It debunks the idea that when you watch somebody who is good at something, they must have been blessed with a natural gift ....
Most people have to train for a minimum of 10, sometimes 15 years, to reach mastery, but even by being committed for one year there has been a very big change in Sam's ability level and this is because the human brain is very adaptable. This idea that purposeful practice, over many years (10,000 hours is one oft-mentioned target), leads to proficiency has great relevance for education. But parents and children in the U.S. often think that academic success is the result of genetics, not effort. According to OECD education expert Andres Schleicher, it is our attitude about abilities that is the "key factor in test results":
Mr Schleicher says in western countries failure to succeed in math is frequently attributed by
In contrast, studies of top-performing Asian countries have shown pupils attribute their success or failure to their own efforts and the ability of their teachers.
"In subjects like mathematics, if young people are not very good at the beginning they tend to give up because they don't think they have got a brain for numbers," he says.
Whereas in places like China there is a very widespread cultural belief that you get better with training, so people tend to persist longer.
"The very belief about how success happens shapes the behaviours that we adopt."
Mr Schleicher says in western countries failure to succeed in maths is frequently attributed by students to an innate lack of ability, arguing that success depends on being naturally gifted.
In contrast, studies of top-performing Asian countries have shown pupils attribute their success or failure to their own efforts and the ability of their teachers. As I have seen with my own performance in school, at work, in relationships and in most other endeavors, results are much more about my effort than about my abilities. And as my kids are (I hope) learning through piano lessons, math facts, basketball and boy scouts, what is really hard is having the discipline and motivation to practice. And practice again. And practice even more. If our students learn this kind of resilience and perseverance in school and at home, they will be better-prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities that are ahead of them. More info from a Scientific American study on the same topic is here.