Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Outliers and Practical Intelligence


Extending his “Trouble with Geniuses” concerns, Malcolm Gladwell offers insight about those particular skills that give talented people the extra edge to become outliers. Gladwell explains that we too often assume that success is based purely on intellect or physical talents. Genetics tend to play vital roles, but they are hardly the sole determining factors.

To describe the differences between a highly intelligent yet underachieving person and a highly intelligent and successful one, Gladwell highlights psychologist Robert Sternberg’s concept “practical intelligence,” which includes “'knowing what to say to whom, knowing when to say it, and knowing how to say it for maximum effect.’” Practical intelligence is “knowledge that helps you read situations correctly and get what you want. And, critically, it is a kind of intelligence separate from the sort of analytical ability measured by IQ.”

The practical intelligence that Gladwell presents can also be thought of as a kind of “social savvy,” an ability to skillfully negotiate multiple social and professional environments. People with high IQs who seemed to squander their talents were actually people who lacked “a community around them that prepared them properly for the world.”

How did you respond to Gladwell’s ideas about the roles of wealth and parenting in the lives of those who are more likely to become socially savvy and/or highly successful?

Or, to take a different concern, what could SIUE do to ensure that larger numbers of students develop higher degrees of practical intelligence during their time here?

18 comments:

Ralicia Hawkins said...

A great deal of knowledge is obtained through communication and more importantly interaction. If a person knows countless textbooks inside out, but does not have the skills to apply the knowledge learned to his everyday life, that knowledge is meaningless. SIUE can provide that connection between the textbook, classroom, and more importantly, the world.

Lindsey Fisher said...

I believe that Gladwell's ideas about practical knowledge are exactly right. If you do not know how to communicate with others effectively then it is hard to get what you need/want from them. Communication is key to getting a good job and keeping that job. SIUE does a really good job trying to teach practical knowledge through the Career Development Center. They set up mock interviews and help you any way they can. Practical knowledge is key to getting ahead in life.

Hilary said...

It is important for a person to be well-rounded, not just smart. Like the old cliche' "Communication is key". Knowing how to express yourself in ways that others can understand you is an important skill to have along with knowledge. SIUE has many resources to help anyone who is willing to look for it. There is no excuse for not knowing where to find help. COMMUNICATE with those there to help you. It will help you in the long run.

Kiev Broadwater said...

In my opinion, practical intelligence is the most important kind. If you can't apply anything you know to real-world situations then that information is useless. SIUe does a good job of applying book smarts to things in real life.

Bryan M. said...

I don't really believe that a person's success is determined by their parenting and level of wealth. If you have more money you might start off ahead of the rest of the kids your age because you might be put in a private school or something at a higher level of education. Other than that, it is up to yourself to become successful. It does help if you are able to communicate, but the only way to get better at that is to put yourself out there and talk to many different people. SIUE is good at making communication easy. Everybody here is really laid baid and accepting of everybody.

RobB said...

The problem with the idea that we are all in charge of our own fate is the idea of practical knowledge. The people that see a homeless person on the street and think to themselves that he did it to himself need to read this. So many factors add in to not only the opportunities given to individuals but even the personalities of the individuals. Those who have the ability to interact and get what they want have a self-serving bias and don't give any thought to how their parents raised them to be practically intelligent. However in reality everything that makes us who we are cannot be credited solely to us.

Dextavius Chatman said...

So that SIUE can ensure a great population of students will become outliers and or those who utilize a great deal of their intellect for their own benefit, SIUE should continue to promote real world communication amongst students. Everything in the school should be centered around the real world, every assignment and project, should be preparation for a success after college. Put that knowledge to work.

Jayson Garrott said...

I agree with Gladwell's ideas about the relationship of "parenting and wealth" with the chances to become more socially savvy. In Annette Lareau's study, a boy by the name of Alex Williams was more "socially savvy" than Katie Brindle, not only because the school he goes to is better and his family is wealthier, but his parents taught him and put him in situations to become more assertive. I believe the parenting is the more important part of this equation. The values a childs parents instill in them at a young age tend to continue on through adolescence.
Speech classes, which are already offered at alot of schools, could potentially allow students to break out of their shells and express theit thoughts about a topic. Outside of speech classes, SIUe could offer some type of course that allows the participants to be put in social situations where they expess their ideas and opinions correctly, and to become a more assertive person.

Corey Houston said...

Practical intelligence has much more applications that IQ related knowledge. The world revolves around interactions with others and those who have been brought up with that knowledge may be better off. Just like the saying "its not what you know its who you know" states. They are both needed but practical intelligence has much more application.

Jessica Hickman said...

SIUE overall has to promote communication and interaction throughout the campus. Students have to understand that learning from a textbook is important and helpful. But interaction is useful in learning practical knowledge. SIUE leaves the opportunity for every student to become involved and connected with the world around them.

Anna Dibler said...

I agree that wealth and parenting are important to whether or not we are successful. You have to have the brains and IQ yes, but that itself may not be enough. The opportunities you are presented with can make or break how successful you become. If you come from a wealthy family, it is easier to become successful. More opportunities come when you live in a community that can help you get to where you want to be. Not to say that someone less fortunate is unable to succeed, it just may be harder.

Briana Collier said...

communication is extremly important in just about every apect of life. communication leads to success whether it be in work or in personal relationships. either way, communication is key to acheving basically anything

lauren said...

I could never agree with Gladwell's concept of practical knowledge more than I do now. There is so many people in society today that are very intelligent as far as schoool goes, but does not know how to talk in front of an important crowd. Yes, they have the necessary materials because all of the intellect is in their head. However, the lack of knowing how to communicate makes them seem ignorant. So, its the person that can communicate all day with an important crowd with little intellect that actually seems and is smarter. At the end of the day that perdon has the practical knowledge. SIUE ca procide that connection by not only preparing students in the books, but by also teaching students to prepare for reality and tieing their knowledge with real-world concepts.

Terrence Brooks said...

Communication and interaction is key to knowledge. You can not make it far in life without being able to communicate with people. I think SIUE does a great job at preparing you for the real world. They get you out of your little shell and allow you to interact with other students, professors,and other people that can help you later in life.

SierraB said...

In the reading Chris lost his scholarship because of his mother's negligence. Chris came from a troubled background like many kids these days. Because of his situation, his transcripts said that he was not smart when he was in reality brilliant. This happens too many times in our society, where a poor situation hinders students that are intelligent.

Joe said...

I agree with Ralicia. I have Asperger's syndrome, that allows me to have a great deal of textbook knowledge, but not that great a deal of practical knowledge via communication. I lacked nonverbal communication skills, and that left me in the dark on a lot of things. I had to go to Asperger's classes to learn those of things, and I think that I didn't have those lessons, if I wasn't forced to assert myself then I might not have been at SIUE by now.

Keori Johnson said...

I believe SIUe should provide safe effective learning environments where students feel that it is okay for them to try to excel. Gladwell's idea sound all fine if you had the type of parents that were willing to work with you. With the way things are going now many students might not have had that learning environment at home they should have had and that quite possibly may alter their chance at success.

Sable said...

I find the results of the study to be somewhat relevant to real life. Of course, some rise out of extraordinary situations, but the results of the study show typical situations. I believe in the findings regarding middle-class individuals because it describes the settings in which I developed. I have also seen truth in some of the information regarding low and high class families as well. I like to think that anyone can rise to success based on hard work and sometimes luck and special abilities. SIUE creates an environment where students can flourish based on their talents. They also offer the correct amount of services inclined to help other students succeed.