Image via WikipediaMalcolm Gladwell, author of such books as The Tipping Point, Blink, and, most recently, Outliers, gave the keynote speech at the opening of NECC (National Education Computing Conference). I always enjoy these speakers because they don't tout the latest tools we all hear so much about already.
Instead, Gladwell, like others before him, focused on what makes learners successful, and his examples tend to be unexpected (eg., Fleetwood Mac, Mozart, and various chessmasters), and his solutions, counter-intuitive. Gladwell simply emphasizes the importance of 2 factors: time and persistence. According to his research, it takes approximately 10 years of working 4 hours a day in order to master cognitively complex skills.
Perhaps Gladwell's ideas could be critiqued on the basis of the "hindsight bias". After all, what of all the people who put their time in, without giving up, and never became successful? And what defines success in his examples? Wealth? Fame? High test scores? Regardless, his explanation of the math score differences between Asian and Western students seems to be compelling in terms of how these young people attribute their respective outcomes (Asian > Western).