Saturday, October 24, 2015

The making of an expert - Gladwell and Ericsson and the 10.000 hour rule

There is a story that is usually told about extremely successful people, a story that focuses on intelligence and ambition. However on his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argues that the true story of success is very different, and argues that to understand how some people thrive, one should spend more time looking around them and at such things as family, birthplace, or even birth date.

Throughout the book, Gladwell repeatedly mentions the "10,000-hour rule", claiming that the key to achieving world class expertise in any skill, is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours.

Anders Ericsson is widely recognized as one of the world's leading theoretical and experimental researchers on expertise, sharing such view as you can read this article.

But Malcolm and Ericsson likewise also argue:  before practice, opportunity, and luck can combine to create expertise, the would-be expert needs to demythologize the achievement of top-level performance, because the notion that genius is born, not made, is deeply ingrained. It’s perhaps most perfectly exemplified in the person of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who is typically presented as a child prodigy with exceptional innate musical genius. Nobody questions that Mozart’s achievements were extraordinary compared with those of his contemporaries. What’s often forgotten, however, is that his development was equally exceptional for his time. His musical tutelage started before he was four years old, and his father, also a skilled composer, was a famous music teacher and had written one of the first books on violin instruction. Like other world-class performers, Mozart was not born an expert—he became one.

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