The Predictable Course of Success

Everything we have learned in Outliers says that success follows a predictable course. It is not the brightest who succeed… Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities–and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.

…To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages that today determine success–the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history–with a society that provides opportunities for all.

~ Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

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The Problem with Math Education

I find that the problem with math education is the sink-or-swim approach. Everything is rapid fire, and the kids who get it first are the ones who are rewarded. So there comes to be a feeling that there are people who can do math and there are people who aren’t math people. I think that extended amount of time gives you the chance as a teacher to explain things, and more time for the kids to sit and digest everything that’s going on–to review, to do things at a much slower pace.

~ Frank Corcoran (in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success)

Hard Work

Working really hard is what successful people do, and the genius of the culture formed in the rice paddies is that hard work gave those in the fields a way to find meaning in the midst of great uncertainty and poverty. That lesson has served Asians well in many endeavors but rarely so perfectly as in the case of mathematics.

…[Erling] Boe’s point is that we could predict precisely the order in which every country would finish in the Math Olympics without asking a single math question. All we would have to do is give them some task measuring how hard they were willing to work. In fact, we wouldn’t even have to give them a task. We should be able to predict which countries are best at math simply by looking at which countries are best at math simply by looking at which national cultures place the highest emphasis on effort and hard work.

~ Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

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Image by Tuan Hoang from Pixabay

Working on problems during sleep

I found if I go to bed with a question on my mind, all I have to do is concentrate on the question before I go to sleep and I virtually always have the answer in the morning. Sometimes I realize what the answer is because I dreamt the answer and I can remember it. Other times I just feel the answer, and I start typing and the answer emerges onto the page.

~ Chris Langan, in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success