The New York Times published an opinion piece a couple of weeks ago titled Sorry, Strivers: Talent Matters by two professors. In it, they attempt to dismiss the claim popularized by Malcolm Gladwell that you can reach an extremely high level of skill in just about anything after practicing at it for 10,000 hours. The professors claim that innate intellectual ability and working memory capacity is a key determiner of success.
A number of other researchers have since pointed out that the column’s authors dramatically overstate what their evidence shows. In fact, 45% of improvement was attributed to deliberate practice and only 7% to working memory capacity.
I’ve used the 10,000 hour finding effectively as one way to help students see that it can be possible for them to achieve their hopes and dreams.
A lot of my students have plenty of reasons already why they might not accomplish their goals. Perhaps professors should double-check their figures before coming-up with even more….