outliers summer reading questions

Thought Questions

1. Please summarize your view of the idea known as the “American Dream,” as you understand

it. Is your understanding of this concept significantly different from the way Gladwell seems to

define it?

2. Malcolm Gladwell is interested in what makes some people more successful than others.

Overall, how would you describe his thesis, or central premise? Do you agree or disagree with his

ideas? How is this view different from the way you have thought about and understood success

in the past?

3. What does Gladwell mean by the term "outlier"?

4. Why does Gladwell insist that IQ is not the determining factor in one's ability to achieve

success? What does he mean when he suggests that IQ reaches a point of diminishing returns after

reaching 130?

5. Gladwell draws upon Robert Sternberg's idea of "practical intelligence." What is practical

intelligence, and how does it differ from IQ?

6. According to Gladwell, what is the reason that Asians excell at mathematics? Discuss the

cultural and educational differences that he points to as explanation.

7. In “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes,” Gladwell discusses one extreme way in which

different “cultural languages” manifest themselves. In your opinion, what is a “cultural

language” you are a part of? How did this “cultural language” emerge and evolve? Does this

language work in your favor with regard to social structure?

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Last updated by Tameya B #550991
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Gladwell believes in the American Dream. He believes that, by sheer will power and hard work, anyone can "make it to the top". I think the American Dream is very much an illusion. It is based on the idea that wealth equals success. Unfortunately the odds are stacked against most of the population for this "success", especially if one does not fall within the parameters of a very narrow demographic. You will have to submit your other questions separately.

By the term "outlier" Malcolm means men and women who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in august.