Malcom Gladwell's Outliers

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In Outliers, Malcom Gladwell deconstructs the misconceptions in modern society surrounding the idea of success. Gladwell jump starts the book with the intriguing thesis that “it’s not enough to ask what successful people are like,” but that it is only important to ask “where they are from so that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t” (19). It is often assumed that individuals with grand achievements, from the field of athletics to computer programming, have an innate ambition or talent that propels them to greatness. This, according to Gladwell, is only a piece to the puzzle of success. In Outliers, Gladwell supports his thesis that success is often resulted from where someone comes from rather than solely individual will by arguing that the likelihood of achievement…show more content…
He begins by stating that many people assume that Asian students have an “innate proclivity for math” because Asian countries “have substantially outperformed their Western counterparts” in international mathematic exams (230). But in reality, Gladwell proved that Asian countries actually have a cultural advantage in the subject due to their number system. Most numbers in Chinese “can be uttered in less than a quarter of a second” while English numbers take a third. This difference allows Chinese children to memorize and count at an earlier age, leaving Western children a year behind at age five. Similarly, Gladwell cited Chinese culture of hardwork growing rice paddies as a reason for mathematic success. Berkeley professor Alan Shoenfield argued that math “is not so much ability” as it “is attitude” (246). Given this idea, Gladwell asserts that because Chinese culture is founded in perseverance, they are much more effective in mathematics. Gladwell uses the cultural legacy of Chinese history to make the point that success is often rooted in the culture of your community and
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