Thursday, April 22, 2010
I was instantly hooked. I read passages outloud to Greg. I stayed up until 1 a.m. before I made myself put it down (which felt awesome when E woke up at 5:45). Before going to sleep, Mr. Gladwell had me convinced that we cannot possibly send Ellie to kindergarten when she is 5 (since she has an August birthday), and should keep her back for a year, since the youngest children in their grade score 12 percentage points behind the oldest children, and are underrepresented in college by 11.6%.
Mr. Gladwell has some interesting suppositions about the reasons why people are "lucky" and successful. Every conclusion he made is one I have heard before, but not collected together into his own theory of success. I especially loved how he recognizes that cultural heritage plays a large role in success. My favorite example is an explanation of why Asians typically out-perform English-speakers in Math. It comes down to language. English has a weird way of counting (e.g. eleven, twelve, thirteen); Asians say ten-one, ten-two, ten-three. When English-speaking children learn to add, they have to translate thirty-seven plus twelve into numbers and then add, while Asian children add three-tens-seven plus ten-two. Fractions are expressed in Chinese as "from five parts take three" where English-speakers say three-fifths. So math skills may be related in part to grasping the concepts early on as a result of the language. Interesting concept, eh?
The take-home message of the book for me is that uber-successful people have a combination of talent, preparation, hard work, AND come of age at the right time for their skill sets. Gladwell places a lot of emphasis on being the right age at the right time.
An interesting read. Great pick, Mary! (Now I just have to remember to get your book back to you.)