October 12, 2006

Malcolm Gladwell Reveals Roots Of Adult Achievement, Proceeds To Tease And Zhoozh Them A Little

genius_hair.jpg

They say, "write what you know." Malcolm Gladwell spoke to a conference of pychologists about precociousness, prodigies, and how bunk it is to use Mozart and even Einstein as justification for what amounts to a misguided obsession with childhood achievement:

We think of precociousness as an early form of adult achievement, and, according to Gladwell, that concept is much of the problem. “What a gifted child is, in many ways, is a gifted learner. And what a gifted adult is, is a gifted doer. And those are quite separate domains of achievement.”

...

Yet Gladwell deftly debunked the Mozart myth. “First of all, the music he composes at four isn’t any good,” he stated bluntly. “They’re basically arrangements of works by other composers. And also, rather suspiciously, they’re written down by his father. … And Leopold, it must be clear, is the 18th-century equivalent of a little league father.”

Einstein's early "gifts" were not intelligence at all, Gladwell went on, but things that don't get mentioned on the DVD box, things like "curiosity, doggedness, and determinedness."

Also unmentioned: genius hair.

The Myth of Prodigy and Why it Matters [aps observer via kottke]
Related: Albert Einstein on a Onesie or a kid's t-shirt, $19 from Reckon [etsy.com]

5 Comments

I don't thin it's genius hair, more than the lack of street smartz to know how to operate a comb...

Gladwell gets it. I have an 18-month old while the grandparents love to point out that she's a "genius", I'm not buying it. I just want to her to be a good person and have the ability to get along with others. The rest, as they say, will work itself out.

[the kicker on that Gladwell article says basically the same thing: if you want to know if a 13-yo running prodigy will be a great runner at 23, wait until he's 23. -ed]

Another sports example is Jordan... He was cut from his High School team...

Fabulous article. It should be required reading for any new parents. Hell, it should be attached to every "baby genius" product, dvd, flashcards etc..

Gladwell's hair is the result of being part African--he's biracial. So, let's be careful about making judgements about people's hair meaning something.

[no sweat, only Gladwell's hair was a lot smaller and less iconic in his pre-Tipping Point days. I'm just saying don't underestimate the impact of a sweet 'do on some forms of adult achievement. -ed]

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