Am reading Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success and finding it extremely intriguing. Getting stuck 3/4 way through as he seems to be meandering. There are a few very interesting notions he put across though: The 10000-hour rule is one of them.
He says that 10000 hours is the magic number for greatness: a study "couldn't find any "naturals", musicians who floated effortlessly to the top while practising a fraction of the time their peers did. Nor could they find any "grinds", people who worked harder than everyone else, yet just didn't have what it takes to break the top ranks."
"The people at the very top don't work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder."
In another part of his book, Gladwell argues that you need a certain level of competency/IQ, but beyond that it is this 10000-hour rule that determines great achievements. This works out to daily practice of about 3 hours for 10 years.
My friend May whose son plays piano beautifully, tells me he has been practising daily for hours since he was about 3. He's now 12, and he wins competitions even when pitted against Russian children who attend music school every day. She doesn't think he is exceptionally gifted, she attributes his success to plain, hard work. Even on holidays, she brings along a keyboard for the boys to practise on. Daily, without fail, all year long, practise, practise, practise. They miss school pretty regularly to take part in competitions and to perform at concerts. The school isn't too happy about this, but May is focused! Piano comes first!
I also know that my friend's son, a math prodigy, works extremely hard at Math(and enjoys it) for hours each day. He wins competitions aimed at kids much older than he is. I think he would have gone further in Math had it not been for other distractions such as PSLE preparations. Thankfully, his mom is a great advocate for him and he has been able to thrive while working within the Singapore education system.
Some of us have been talking about why Singapore is able to produce "great" world-class results when it comes to test-taking amongst children, yet there are precious few "greats" when it comes to the real world. Could it be that Singapore kids are spending their 10000 hours working on scoring at tests? In the real world, there aren't tests to be taken. How many musical, chess, sport talents have chosen to practise that few hours less each day, just to focus on mock test-papers during exam period. Didn't one of last year's high PSLE scorers say she stopped piano practise/lessons for the few months before PSLE?
IF Gladwell's theory is right (and I'm not saying it is); IF it is, Singapore is training its kids to be great test-takers, assessment book writers, and exam paper setters. Discuss!