Sunday, January 11, 2009

Things are not as they first appear

Things are not as they first appear. This is a familiar phrase that Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers proves to me is true. Assumptions are probably wrong; digging deeper will come up with a more complex web of interactions than is apparent on the surface.

On the surface it appears that outliers - those who rise to the top of their chosen field - may have gotten there by way of their sweat and hard work. And to a certain extent this is shown to be true. But in fact, it is also a mixture of lucky breaks, timing, advantages, and circumstances particular to that person that combine together with his or her hard work, strength and presence of mind to seize opportunities that make that person successful.

I definitely give this book a thumbs up and would recommend it. The value in a book, though, beyond it's pleasure factor - the enjoyment of reading the book - lies in the questions: Has it made a difference in my life? Am I a better person for having read the book? Will I now approach life differently?

I give Outliers a three star rating (see sidebar for explanation).
Take-away points:

  • look for opportunities that can be a jumping point to future success
  • work hard!
  • nix summer vacation for students


Lifelines said...

I'll have to check that one out... what do you mean exactly about nixing summer vacation? Are you changing your tune?

Lifelines said...

Love your star rating, by the way! :)

Maureen said...

Gladwell makes a convincing argument for eliminating summer vacation if academic success is important. He compares countries that score highest in math to those that don't, and one difference is the amount of time they put in at doing it - either at a time or over the year. Taking off for an entire summer puts you wayyy behind. Not to say I plan to school over the summer, but I'm going to think seriously about seeing how we can keep the math up anyways. Our home is very "rich" educationally, so learning in other ways doesn't stop in the summer months. Math, though...that's another story