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Malcolm Gladwell complicates the tug of war between destiny and determination. On one hand, he doesn't think Gifted and Talented Education Programs can or should pick out high-achievers at age 8. But on the other hand, he says aspiring hockey players born after the first 3 months of the year don't stand much of a chance of going pro.

Michael Barrier is the guy you call if you have a big profound question about Looney Tunes. He explains that Wile E. Coyote isn't pitted against the Road Runner--he's up against a universe that's out to get him.

Guests:

Malcolm Gladwell

Comments [5]

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Feb. 09 2014 01:59 AM

Ditto to cjnoyes. My best friend and I had very similar educational experiences (at different schools). Being bored in class led disrupting class, which led to bad behavior in general. When we were finally given the opportunity to take gifted courses, when we were offered material that was challenging and stimulating, we began to thrive in, and love, school.

Other people that I've met who attended gifted classes seem to describe the same experience: an acting out/misbehaving in class that seemed to result from the fact that they could easily complete work that was much more advanced than what was being offered in their classrooms. Once given suitable work, they seem to describe a similar experience of suddenly becoming open to, and in awe of, the world of learning. To suggest that there are no children that need 'extra help' because they need to engage with more stimulating material is like suggesting that there is no such thing as learning disabilities, or kids who need additional time and support because they find certain subjects too challenging.

I have found in find in my experience that people who were not labelled as gifted are the ones that find the notion of it so offensive. They believe that gifted programs take a portion of the population, define them as 'chosen people', and drain everyone else out with the bath water. In reality, gifted means no such thing. It doesn't mean 'genius' or 'smartest', it just means that at a specific developmental period, such and such child needs to be offered more challenging material to be stimulated in school (material that most other children of their age group would find too challenging). This isn't to say that this may change, that a child that has been labeled gifted is going to need to be more challenged than the rest of their peers by the time they are fifteen, twenty, or thirty, or that a 'gifted' child will be more creative or successful, than 'non-gifted' children. I agree that the term 'gifted' should maybe be changed to something more neutral— it is a bit pompous— but the programs themselves, in my mind, are absolutely necessary.

Jul. 04 2011 03:40 PM

The reason people would rather believe genius comes from inborn talent rather than extreme dedication is that they would rather not be responsible for not having it. It's easy to admire someone's skill, perhaps feel some passing envy for it, but ultimately chalk it up to a lucky accident of genetics. What every truly 'gifted' person knows is that the extreme love they have for a particular study, art, or sport is the only 'inborn' spark they needed.
"Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." -- Thomas A. Edison

Apr. 25 2011 04:14 PM

I appreciated the question by Rorbert Krulwich, does he deny giftedness or hate it, given the contempt I heard. As a gifted person who was stuck in borring, classes which were not appropriate for his capacity, because of the lack of gifted classes and appropriate referralls, I understand the reason for them, though Gladwell was surprisingly uninformed and arrogant. Several of his books are very good, but Outliers left a bad taste in my mouth.

Mar. 24 2011 09:49 PM
Margaret Clauder from Arlington, TX

Malcolm Gladwell is spot on in his observations. I read Outliars and it is a brilliant book. Any parent wondering if they should hold their summer born rather immature child back a year before entering kindergarten should read this book before making up their mind.

Nov. 08 2010 12:18 PM

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