Daniel Coyle's 'The Talent Code' has some useful ideas but should not be a blueprint for education, says Swheatie of the KUWG
The Talent Code: Greatness isn't born. It's grown'
In the Monday-14 July to-Sunday 20 July lead up to my departure and up till Wednesday morning 23 July, I was reading 'The Talent Code: Greatness isn't born. It's grown' by Daniel Coyle. (I ordered that through my local independent bookshop.) My cue for ordering it was a reference on youtube where a musician was talkingabout the importance of 'deep practice' as emphasised in 'The TalentCode'. The book talks about the newly emerging scientific understanding of myelin as an insulator of skill-related circuits in the brain, and its role in people developing 'automaticity' through hundreds of hours of practice. 'Deep practice' is where, say, a musician goes through a piece they have already practised, and takes each phrase and slows it down to a point where they no longer make errors. I have also found deep practice to be very helpful in, say, my:
- silent explorations from string to string of baritone ukulele, acoustic guitar and classical guitar, so that I could, say, more clearly identify the string my parallel fretting fingers were on by the gauge of the string under those fingers
- going beyond the physical motions of following the musical tadpoles with hand-eye-coordination, to developing a greater capacity to 'hear the notes' in my head and mimic them with my voice
Cause for concern
Further, I find the chapter 'How to Ignite a Hotbed' more disturbing than inspiring. I take the viewpoint that the so-called 'Knowledge Is Power Program' is, as its critics have stated, more 'Kids in Prison Program' in that it does not really encourage independent thought and veers instead toward robotising children through a 'college is all that there is' view of life's goals. Instead it uses group coercion as I witnessed on 'New Deal Intensive Activity Programme' at A4e Holloway in 2008. Thus it is little wonder to me that “KIPP received a $15 million donation from Donald and Doris Fisher, founders of the GAP clothing store.”
In the 'Epilogue: The Myelin World' chapter, Coyle goes on to venerate Albert Ellis and his 'Cognitive Behavioural/Behavioral Therapy' (CBT) at the expence of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Thus he limits the scope for examining, say, the impact of physical, economic, and social structures that turn a person's impairment into a disability. A psychoanalytic approach would also help to reveal why something is important to a learner, especially an introverted learner who does not merely take on board the values of the social matrix into which they are thrown. I also point out that some people, through devoting far too long in the scale of things to their chosen discipline, have become unhappy and frustrated in other areas of their lives.