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January 6, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

My takeaways from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers

So far, Outliers is my favorite Malcolm Gladwell book and having the opportunity to listen to Gladwell read it gives a bit of extra-flavor. It focuses on themes of community (context), commitment (persistence), and luck in the journey towards excellence (success).

The top quick takeaways from Outliers in addition to J.C. Hewitt said, although with overlap:

• Daniel Levitan 10,000 hour rule for the development of expertise.
• The role of communities of practice and deliberative practice (Dr. Anders Ericcson)
• Education should take into account and group classes based on date (because thats a marker of maturity and educational attainment). Note: I think he only makes the case till age 10 or 12, because thats when things “level out” a bit.
• Extra-ordinary programs seem to be part of the special sauce, because they allow the individuals to put in that time and for a “…special time for practice.” [There is also a community of practice, mentorship, & exposure to modeling the experts are all argument to be had here.]
• Cultural difference in work ethic between East Asia and United States (and by extension anglo-centric Europe).
• KIPP Academy’s success proves that schools are doing their jobs. Issues of class cause poor students to lose their knowledge over the summer.
• Our notions of school reform should look away from the current model and to 1. increasing grit/persistence 2. increasing school day 3. education for kids during the summer (whether lengthening the school year or some other program like educational summer camp.
• Overall: Success = luck, timing, context/culture, & persistence over time (grit & resilience). Groups are absolutely critical to this concept.

Resources:
Outliers concept is very similar to positive deviance: http://www.positivedeviance.org/
Daniel Levitan & associated research on 10,000 rule: http://www.daveswhiteboard.com/archives/294
Deliberative Practice http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2010/08/six-keys-to-being-excellent-at.html
Communities of Practice http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_of_practice
Grit and Education http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/magazine/what-if-the-secret-to-success-is-failure.html?pagewanted=all

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