Summary – The Trouble with the Geniuses - Prajakta Kanegaonkar “Here we have two very brilliant young students, each of whom runs into a problem that imperils his college career. Langan's mother has missed a deadline for his financial aid. Oppenheimer has tried to poison his tutor…
We come across numerous examples of this sort in our everyday life and we often say this to ourselves, “if only this person would have got the right opportunity, he would have shone as a genius”. Is it really true that opportunities come only to those who have natural advantages over the system? Or are people simply blindfolded to the challenges they may have to take to go ahead in life? Malcolm Gladwell gives a reasoning which as a common reader we have to agree with. He through this brilliant article tries to delve into the psychology of the people and also the circumstances and reasons that lead a person to the road of success. When we read this article we do not have any contrary view to those presented, even when we know that there are exceptions to the rules. Gladwell has explained the concept of “practical intelligence” which in other words means getting things done from the people around you the way you want. It also means turning the situation to your advantage. He has quoted an example of Chris Langan who was always a brilliant student and wanted to pursue education with great interest. However he could not convey his intentions to his teachers, tutors and managements of educational institutes. Gladwell also quotes and example of Oppenheimer who was under a serious charge of attempt on life of his tutor and still managed to get away with probation. What one lacked the other possessed. It was simply practical intelligence to convince people, social skills that are required to make your side of story heard and understood and get things done your own way. Gladwell mentions the concept of concerted cultivation. He quotes an example of research conducted by Annette Lareau, a sociologist. She researched twelve families, from affluent to poor and middle class families on how the children are brought up in various environments and how it impacts them. There are qualities in individuals we recognize such as confidence, self-assurance, self-respect, assertiveness etc. If we go deeper into the psyche of an individual we see that almost all these qualities are trained qualities and not natural. This is the premises of the research conducted by Ms Lareau. There is distinct difference in the environment of the households she has studied. In middle class and affluent families every minute of the child’s life is occupied with various activities, parents are watchful of the outcomes, they go to schools and institutes and defend their children and see to it that they get best of the advantages over others. This is a concerted and concentrated effort on developing the child and his personality. A small instance where, the child is treated as an equal and with respect inculcates assertiveness and confidence in the child. This helps the child to go a long way. The child is never refrained from taking challenges head on. Instead the parents look at it as an opportunity to build the quality required to face these kinds of situations. This in other words is known as concerted cultivation and upbringing of the child. The poor families or households however do not have the time and the effort to bring up their children with concerted cultivation approach. The familial background of education also makes a significant difference in shaping the child’s future. Several families who have taken to concerted cultiva ...
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Andwhat happens? Langan gets his scholarship taken away, and Oppenheimer gets sent to a psychiatrist. Oppenheimer and Langan might both be geniuses, but in other ways, they could not be more different.”
We come across numerous examples of this sort in our everyday
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