(Today is the last in a week of posts by FedUpMom. I really enjoyed showcasing her voice here and would like to give others that opportunity as well. So please email me with your ideas. And, don’t worry. FedUpMom will be back a week from Friday, where she’ll answer some of the questions she posed about George Orwell’s essay on her first post last week. A big thanks to FedUpMom for her hard work.)
Guest Post #5
by FedUp Mom
Talent vs. Hard Work
Recently there’s been a cultural meme claiming that achievement is all about hours of practice. It began with the book Outliers, which I heard quoted so much that I never bothered to read it, and continued recently with articles in the New York Times.
On the one hand, I agree that talent takes a great deal of hard work to develop properly. On the other hand, I don’t believe for a moment that the biggest difference between me and Mozart is that Mozart got more practice. Equally, if you had taken me at the same age Michael Phelps was when he started swimming, and made me spend the same number of hours swimming that he did, I would never have gone to the Olympics. Why? I don’t have the build, the energy, the coordination, or the ability. In short (and how!), I don’t have athletic talent.
My biggest fear about the idea of hours of practice is that it will be applied unthinkingly to our kids, many of whom are already overworked.
If you are passionate about something, the hours of practice can fly by. There must be a balance that will allow our kids to find their passion, and spend their energy wisely and effectively.