The #1 key to success in mathematics?

I just finished reading the book Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.  I will be discussing different aspects of the book over the next several posts.

Gladwell discusses the importance of persistence in the study of mathematics,  In a footnote, he mentions a study in which groups of Japanese and American 1st graders were given a difficult puzzle to solve. The Americans, on average, gave up after 9.47 minutes.  The Japanese students?  They worked 13.93 minutes, or about 47% longer than their American counterparts before giving up.

This raises several interesting questions:

1)  How much does culture affect the learning of mathematics?

2)  How do we establish a culture in our country where this type of diligence is more common?

3)  What can teachers and parents do to encourage improvement in the persistence that Gladwell mentions?

Any thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “The #1 key to success in mathematics?

  1. I read the book a couple of months ago. Without a doubt Gladwell’s discussion about culture differences was quite interesting! For that reason, I think it’s a great book for missionaries… as well as mathematicians.

    • This book has made me rethink teaching math, pastoring, parenting…you name it! I especially think his discussion of expert=10000 hours is especially challenging.

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