Are Homeschoolers Really Outliers?

Outlier, noun.

out·li·er

1 : something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body

2 : a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample

According to Salon book reviewer Louis Bayard, an interesting premise lies behind a new book by über-consultant Malcolm Gladwell, whose previous titles, “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” (2000), and “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” (2005), struck a chord across many layers of the American psyche. After a long and rambling introduction and explanation of who Gladwell is and why he reaps $40,000 per speech, Bayard quotes from and comments on Gladwell’s newest book “Outliers: The Story of Success” (2008):

“People don’t rise from nothing,” he writes. “They are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot … It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.”

In other words, don’t ask how Bill Gates got so smart. Ask what unique set of circumstances allowed him to harness his smarts toward world dominion. “Successful people don’t do it alone,” the author tells us. “Where they come from matters. They’re products of particular places and environments.”

“Oh really?” Homeschoolers ask in amused unison…

What makes this review interesting is that reviewer Louis Bayard actually disagrees with author Malcolm Gladwell. You’ll have to read the review and make up your own mind about who’s got it right.

Extra credit: USA Today article on Malcolm Gladwell.

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