Sunday, February 22, 2009

Outlier is an Outlier

Of all of Malcolm Gladwell's books and articles, Outlier is out there.  Based on anecdotes and family stories — good as they are — the book is not the usual Gladwell research-based book.  Clearly The Tipping Point and Blink received rave reviews and are mentioned over and over in conversations from business to education to life. . . I'm afraid that is not the case for Outliers.  As big a Gladwell fan as I am, I have to agree with the NYTimes Book Review.

I will say, though, that one section of the book did catch my eye.   "Johns Hopkins University sociologist Karl Alexander's work suggests that the way in which education has been discussed in the United States is backwards.  An enormous amount of time is spent talking about reducing class size, rewriting curricula, buying every student a shiny new laptop, and increasing school funding—all of which assumes that there is something fundamentally wrong with the job schools are doing. [Collected data does show] Schools work.  The only problem with school, for the kids who aren't achieving, is that there isn't enough of it."

Look at the book.  Decide for yourself if it matches up to his other books.

P.S.  I did enjoy reading the last chapter that talks about Gladwell's family heritage.  And, the book is #2 on the NYTimes Bestseller list today.

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