The Educator's PLN

The personal learning network for educators

Another one of my favorite books over the last few years is Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.  For those who haven't read it, Gladwell tells the untold stories of success. Rather than telling the typical story of intelligence and/or ambition, Gladwell argues that the true story of success can found by spending more time looking around those who have succeeded - their family, where they were born, even their birth date.  He argues that the story of success is much more complex that it initially appears.

The first chapter immediately caught my attention for two reasons.  First, it's about hockey.  As a Canadian I am obligated, by law I believe, to pay excessive amounts of attention to anything related to hockey.  The second reasons is because much of what he wrote about relates to us in education.  The chapter is about cut-off dates; the dates that decide whether an athlete plays with one cohort or another. Gladwell argues that these artificial cut-off dates create an unfair advantage for young athletes.  At an early age, maturity is sometimes mistaken for ability which creates an imbalance of coaching, access, and opportunity.  The cut-off date for hockey is December 31; most NHL players are born in January, February, and March.  The cut-off date for baseball is July 31; more Major League baseball players are born in August than any other month.

Two things Gladwell wrote in this chapter have a directly applicability to education.  First, the idea of success:

We cling to the idea that success is a simple function of individual merit and that the world in which we all grow up and the rules we choose to write as a society don't matter at all. (p. 33)

Individual merit makes for a better story - a better After School Special if you will - but the context in which students are learning makes a significant difference to the level of success possible.  We create the conditions - the rules - in which the students are expected to perform. We personalize success to a point where we see it as an outcome of will and some form of pit bulldetermination.  However, the second thing Gladwell said shows how our "rules" can get in the way.

Because we so profoundly personalize success, we miss opportunities to lift others to the top rung.  We make rules that frustrate achievement. We prematurely write off people as failures. We are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail. And, most of all, we become much too passive.  We overlook just how large a role we all play - and by "we" I mean society - in determining who makes it and who doesn't. (pp. 32-33)

What rules do you make that frustrate achievement? Have you ever prematurely written off someone as a failure? Are you too much in awe of those who succeed?  These are some tough questions that only you can answer in your private moments. They are more questions for reflection than public declaration.  I think we take too much credit for the students who are successful and too little responsibility for those who aren't.  I believe we should only take credit for the successful students to the level at which we are prepared to take responsibility for the students who fail.

The rules we create - zeros, late penalties, homework scores, attendance - all have the opportunity to frustrate achievement.  These are rules we create since most schools/teachers have slightly different "rules" about all of these things; some have no "rules." The point is that we need to reflect on what rules/routines we have put into place that might be getting in the way of our students true ability and/or potential.  Our "rules" can distort achievement levels that make it hard to find the "truth" in what a student knows or doesn't know; can or can't do.

There need to be rules - this is not about anarchy - but our rules need to be used as vehicles for learning, inclusion, and support. I've said many times that the punishment paradigm will not produce the academic epiphany. Reflect on your "rules" and ask one simple question: Are my rules frustrating achievement? If 'yes', get rid of the rule....and yes, it is that simple!

Views: 73

Comment

You need to be a member of The Educator's PLN to add comments!

Join The Educator's PLN

About

Thomas Whitby created this Ning Network.

Latest Activity

George Danke posted a discussion

Integration with The Latest Technology in Education Field

It is with certainty that we can say that the future of education is looking very bright. Today the kids are taught so many new innovations that we adults couldn't have imagined learning at school. They are also given exposure to more practical lessons. Integration with the latest technology and the accessibility to global platforms have made the industry take a whole new perspective towards imparting knowledge to students. Though the current generation is much advanced and keep up with the…See More
Jul 25
George Danke replied to Nanacy Lin's discussion Future Of Education
"Hi! I think that exactly AI will have a great impact on feature of Education. Technologies are rapidly developing and soon there will be tools with the help of which the learning process will be faster and more efficient."
Jul 24
George Danke replied to Shanshan Ma's discussion Personalized learning network and social media
"Hi! I agree that this platform it is a nice place for educators.  However, you can find people and education groups in such social medias as Facebook and Twitter which also can help you to find some useful information.  So, I can not…"
Jul 24
Profile IconSharon Boling, Jerry Hansen, Sara Maynerich and 40 more joined The Educator's PLN
Jul 23
Ruth Herman Wells posted an event

Seattle WA Teacher Behavior Management Professional Development Workshop at Marriot Courtyard South Center

April 23, 2020 at 9am to April 24, 2020 at 4pm
Got Problem Kids? Here's your Problem-Student Problem-Solver Workshop. You name the problems and this workshop delivers hundreds of immediate problem-stopping answers. You will leave with innovative, more effective strategies for school failure, truancy, dropping out, work refusal, violence, delinquency, bad attitudes, depression, and more. Online workshop, college credit and free clock hours also available. For more info go to our website,…See More
Jul 18
Deidra Campbell liked Thomas Whitby's blog post Parent Communication Isn’t What It Once Was.
Jul 6
Daisy Hastings posted a blog post

How and Why To Get Into National Honor Society

The National Honor Society (NHS) is an organization for the high-school students. It is dedicated to recognizing and appreciating the young ones for their excellent performance at educational establishments. Hence, those who satisfy the membership requirements laid down by the school’s chapter can apply for the NHS membership.How to get into National Honor Society?The first task is to figure out if your school consists of an NHS chapter. And, if it does…See More
Jun 24
Christine Hinkley posted an event

OLC Collaborate Maui at University of Hawaii Maui

September 19, 2019 at 8am to September 20, 2019 at 5pm
Join your fellow digital learning education professionals, educators, and administrators to network with experts and collaborate on solving the challenges we all face in online higher education today. You’ll get the chance to hear from regional experts regarding current and emerging trends in online learning, collaborate and network with your peers during group discussions on top-of-mind challenges that may impact the future of online, blended, and digital learning – and your career.See More
Jun 20

© 2019   Created by Thomas Whitby.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service