Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Accumulative Advantages & Outliers

Haley Scholar Reading Groups

Gladwell’s chapter “The Matthew Effect,” a title which refers to the biblical Scripture the Parable of Talents, illuminates how the talented greatly increase their talents. Biblical and popular retellings of the parable of talents often concentrate on the lesson that if talented people do not use or maximize their gifts, those gifts could be relinquished. But Gladwell, a writer always interested in providing an alternative take on familiar ideas, concentrates on the gifts talented people receive prior to attaining their most notable achievements.

Gladwell draws on a body of research from various scholars and reveals that all-star hockey players, for example, do not simply become all-stars because of their accomplishments as professional athletes. Instead, their achievements are rooted to a larger system of rewards offered early in their childhoods and which continually compound, a process known as “accumulative advantage.” To illustrate his point, Gladwell shows how, on average, young people born in the early months of a given year get a literal and significant head start over their peers who are born in later months of the same year in youth hockey and soccer leagues.

A cursory search of “accumulative advantage” on the internet connects that concept to inequality, showing how those fortunate enough to be born or situated in the right time and place receive tremendous advantages and benefits.

What do you think about the workings of accumulative advantage? Or better yet, how should we be thinking and talking about apparently hidden systems of rewards or disadvantages that exist at universities like SIUE?

33 comments:

Jacquelene G. said...

I believe in hockey there is definitely an accumulative advantage for those born in the earlier months. The author stressed the fact that someone who is ten can play hockey with someone who does not turn ten until the end of the month. Thus the older boy is more mature and his strength is seen as more natural ability.

That boy then gets put on a more advanced squad with better coaching and more practice. Eventually he really does become a better athlete than his semi-younger teammate. The same thing happens in education.
Due to the age difference in preschool, some college students are behind, because the gap has followed them. However, I feel we should not target the age difference in universities such as SIUE. Many people choose to attend college at different ages, and such cases as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. do very well at a young age.
There are also plenty of tutoring services available. We should be targeting the preschools for their age division and advanced placement groups. Like the author stated the feeling of unsatisfaction starts here. By the time these students attend universities it is too late.

Jacquelene G.

Ashley B. said...

I think that accumulative advantage has a great affect on how a person's abilities later in life are. People who have for instance doing a sport since they were a little child have an advantage over a person who just started in junior high school. I do not think that accumlative advantage is unfair, I think it is just a part of life, and life is not always fair. At universities like SIUE I think that there are advantages over other students. Like for example students who has help with their financial aid has an advantage over students who do not. Disadvantages at universities are you have no one to "hold your hand" but if you were never given that guidence its harder for some students.

lance13 said...

Gladwell made some good points in this chapter of the book. Children born in the earlier months of the year do have a big advantage. They are more developed than children born later in the year so they are given more opportunities. This causes them to do better in school and sports so when they reach the age to go to college they are further ahead than the other people so they get more recognition for their athletic ability and academics, so they recieve more scholarship money and other benefits from colleges than people that were born later in the year.

Candace P. said...

The workings of accumulative advantage is an example of the unfairness and inequality of society. Using the aspect of accumulative advantage affects an individual's ability later in life. In particular, those who are "considered" to have a small advantage become better at a certain aspect because they are then given certain and more opportunities. However, there is no true way to determine those individuals that are advanced when most are not developed mentally or physically enough to be judged. For instance, there is a birthday deadline for children to be considered ready to start elementary school. Thus, those who are not eligible are left behind and forced to start the following year. This pattern continues throughout school; those who have advantages in academics are placed in honors or gifted programs and those who have advantages in sports are placed in the spotlight in games. In college, those who are "academically ready" are placed in level 100 courses and those who are not ready are forced to enroll in academic development courses. Yet, we cannot measure those academically ready as "better" or "more advanced" when compared to others because they have always been given the upper hand.

Charris Wells said...

Accumulative advantage does have a great effect on a person's abilities later on in life. Hockey is a good example but it's not the only one. Another good example is people who begin speaking another language earlier on in life. It has been proven that children who are taught a second language early are better able to retain that knowledge than someone who began to speak it later on in life.

Accumulative advantage does also occur at the University level, especially in the instance of financial aid. People who are born to disadvantaged families receive more government help than students that are not.

Jessica L-W. said...

Malcolm Gladwell's approach on how a birth date can play a part in the members that make a hockey team is creative. I never once thought of a correlation between a birth date and anything dealing with whether someone is successful at something in particular. It is peculiar how majority of the members on the hockey team were born between January and April.

I agree with Galdwell when he starts making connections between birth dates and the starting age of school. There is a relationship between maturity and the appropriate age a child should start school. A 5 year old born in January is going to have advantages over a 5 year old whose birthday is in November. Furthermore, while the child may be disadvantaged that should not hold them back from being able to perform with kids a few months older than them. In my opinion, there should be additional help extended to the children at the beginning to get them up to speed but after a while it will be up to them. The children with the younger birthdays should not be catered to forever because of the month they were born in. Once reaching college or even high school, there is no longer anyone to guide a student through every obstacle. The responsibility of understanding falls into the hands of the student.

Vanessa C. said...

Gladwell makes a completely valid point in this chapter. It is clearly seen that athletes born closer after the eligibility date have accumulative advantages. Not only are they more mature, they are also more in practice. Those extra months of practice ultimately help the athlete in their later years.
Like hockey players get more months of practice, preschoolers get more time to pick up skills unlike the kids who did not make the deadline due to their birth date. Those same advantages may have a huge effect on their education as they grow older, maybe even as they move onto a university.
-Vanessa C.

Nicholas Moore said...

I think accumulative advantage provides a advantage for few and a disadvantage for many. We as a society let the workings of accumulative advantage slip through our fingers. We fail to notice how it can greatly affect today's society. A person given more opportunities is more likely to become successful. Therefore, that individual has more of an advantage than a person who is not given those opportunities and is left to feel the full effects of what life brings. Some might think this is not fair. Life is not fair. We see accumulative advantage not only in real life applications but in our school systems. A kid is given a leg up on the competition because his is placed in higher track classes, most likely due to his family status. While a kid with a poor family situation is provided with less opportunities to be successful in the classroom, which puts him at a disadvantage.

mburchett said...

Gladwell brought up a good point, with accumulative advantage. I had never heard of it before but after reading the passage I believe in it, and agree with Gladwell. Since one child can be dramatically encouraged threw life and another can be dramatically discouraged through out life based simply on what month they were born in we should set up various sports leagues and classrooms based on birth. I think by doing this we would have a lot more professional athletes, but more importantly a lot more people hat continue their education after high school at universities like SIUE.

Anonymous said...

I believe that accumalative advantage is a ridiculous idea. It is unfair to those that so happen to be born at the end of the year to have a disadvantage to those who aren't. I couldn't imagine if Siue or any other college was like that. Some students receiving scholarships, financial aid, etc. just because of their birthdate. As far as younger children that have to be in a different grade or a lower grade because of their birthday is also unfair.Just because their birthday is at the end or beginning of the year shouldn't make them at a higher advantage than others.

Ariana H.

Christina Rojas said...

I think that though it seems that the "accumulative advantage" does exist I still don't believe that it is all you need to become successful. Sure the Hockey and Soccer players had an advantage over other younger players but there are ways around this obstacle in which younger players can still become excellent players. I played soccer from the age of 6 to 18 and I was consistently the youngest on the team. However, I worked hard and found ways around the obstacles of girls who were bigger and taller than me. I just worked harder than anyone on the team and I got results.

Corinthian Holts said...

I don't feel that accumulative advantages are very valid, especially when the difference between is only a few months. Hard work and dedication to catch up for missed time. There are plenty of younger players and people who make up for their age with talent.

In different environments such as the workplace and schooling, these advantages can seem overwhelming, but I don't see the definite disadvantage someone could have because of age, the real issue is since people feel they are behind they should do work to get even and ahead. In this land, there is always a way to overcome any odds, no matter how insurmountable they seem.

Michelle E said...

Accumulative advantages is simply another example of our society creating division in an otherwise unimportant area. Any sport should be based on talent, ability, and agility, and not your zodiac sign. Early in childhood we are separated into groups that will carry with us into adulthood. These hidden systems prove to be detrimental to those on the "not" list, denying them of the essential guidance they would get if only they were a couple of months older. An accumlative advantage, if used at all, should include a group of people who all meet the same qualifications but are separated by certain abilities.

Grace Figgers said...

Or better yet, how should we be thinking and talking about apparently hidden systems of rewards or disadvantages that exist at universities like SIUE?

After reading the chapter, I can't ignore the evidence supporting the author's claim. Accumulative advantage exists. I'm just surprised that know one has done anything to address this distinct disadvantage for many children.

I strongly believe that everyone, including universities like SIUE, should be shaking off their apathy and rising up. If school systems, sports programs, etc. were just organized in less rigid systems, more potential could be recognized and utilized. Instead, we are ignoring the big picture and sticking with the "status quo."

Grace Figgers said...

After reading the chapter, I can't ignore the evidence supporting the author's claim. Accumulative advantage exists. I'm surprised more isn't being done to protect children from an obviously flawed system.

If everyone, including universities like SIUE, were to shake off their apathy, I believe a lot could could get accomplished. Our schools, sports organization, etc. could be organized in a manner that truly recognizes and utilizes potential. Instead of mistaking maturity for intelligence or natural ability.

shanon stofer said...

Gladwell made interesting points in this chapter about accumulative advantage. I think accumulative advantage provides some advantages and also some disadvantaes for many people. Our society fails to realize how it affect today's society. If a person given more opportunities they are more likely to become successful. With that being said, that that person has more of an advantage than a person who is not given those same opportunities and is stuck at a full disadvantage all beacaue thhey were born a few months later. Many people can argue that this is fair and many can argue that it is not fair. People experience accumulative advantage not only in sports but in the schools system. A student is given a better opportunity on the competition because they are put in higher quality classroom settings. Meanwhile the next student is put at a disadvantage and not given the same opportunity and guidance.
Shanon Stofer

Sean Pettiford said...

Accumalitive advantage is neither fair nor equal. It involves giving a child an enormous amount of physical and mental support. In this first chapter, many of the hockey players recieved extra practice time and a great team filled with other similar players. These kids were given this oppurtunity because of their birthdate, which eliminates a lot of competition and talent. Also, some kids are held back a year to begin their educational process. Why is this? Accumulative advantage is a one dimensional form of creating sports team or developing students in educational settings. I believe that children should have an "Fair" and "Equal" oppurtunity in these types of situations.

I believe that Universities have many hidden rewards. One major reward is the mood of a success. This may seem lika a cliche expression, but it is true. People who are exposed to a higher learning style tend to perform better in a school setting. Others fall behind and fail or drop out. Although many students are given the resources to exceed standards, they are not frequently used because their previous learning experience does not encourage it. Universities are great for those who are well prepared, but they can become cesspools for potential harmful learning experiences.

Sean Pettiford

Nathan S. said...

Accumulative advantages seems to be a problem whenever there is an arbitrary cutoff for a certain event. It certainly is present in hockey, where older kids are bound to be better players due to their height and their strength, who then in turn get better training. It's unfair, and I think there are good ways around this.

Accumulative advantages quite literally add up. The way to get past such an unbalanced event would be to, like the book suggested, divide the kids up into their respective age groups and birthday months. A separate league for every three months or so would strengthen the kids while making it fair. It would nearly even out everyone's chances at being a good hockey player.

Such an advantage is most definitely present in college, but it is in the form of financial aid. Those who cannot get aid from the state and do not have enough money to pay for college themselves could be forced to work, which gives them less time for extracurricular events, and even less time for studying. This could also mean that they get worse grades or it could lead to them taking less than fifteen credit hours each semester, which would lead to a whole other semester (at least) of paying for college, bringing them down even further in the world.

Beau B said...

I found it interesting that the hockey players that were born in the first three months of the year had a better advantage to be in the higher hockey leagues. It is not necessarily that the players born in January, February, or March were better at hockey. They were just put up against competition that was better than or just as good as them. If the players that were born in the later months of the year were put up against players with similar talent levels, then they would be more likely to end up on teams. Not only do the accumulative advantages exist in sports, they also exist in school too. Students that are older often had more success in school. When they started school they were more developed than the younger kids. So since they have been in school they have always been one step ahead of their peers. This could still exist in students at SIUE. The students with the birthdates closest to the cutoff are going to be ahead of other students because of when they started school years ago.

Beau B

Anonymous said...

Gladwelll stressed a strong point about Accumlative advantage. It seems to happen all the time in everday life. Cildren that did sports at a young age are more well-off than children who just started. People just are born into situations where they succeed others because their already established dominance. Overtime this just accumlates as the word accumlative advantage hints it.


Justin Jones

Anonymous said...

Gladwell made some interesting points about accumulative advantage but I feel with his hockey reference it seemed as if he tried to dim the light on how hard those kids had to work to be the best and focused on their age alone. In a university setting I feel everyone is on a different level coming in and I feel the university does its' best to make sure everyone succeeds by implimenting placement tests. Regardless of your background, no one can remain successful if they do not work hard.

Cornisha B. said...

I believe that the more practiced you are in a area the more strength you will gain and the better you will be. So I agree with that if you don't use it you lose it. This book opens up my eyes to see that everyone who is talented in something have been given a lot of opportunities and advantages as well. There are advantages to everything, here at SIUE it could be seen as an advantage to be a freshmen living in Evergreen due to the dorms filling up.

Zachary Kadiri said...

I feel that the workings of accumulative advantage are very unfair and skewed to favor a selective group of people than others. I believe that accumulative advantage doesn't have meaning especially if it denies or delays people from moving ahead. The birth dates of the hockey players is very good example to show that this advantage is wrong. The workings should be changed so that all people, whether gaining an education or playing sports, equally get a chance to be the best they can be while fairly competing with others

Being a freshman on campus I do not know much about the school. As far as hidden systems of rewards or disadvantages that exist at universities like SIUE, I feel like those who oversee the school should make an effort to make sure that all have an equal chance and that one is better off than another.

Yasmyn K. said...

I believe that Gladwell brought out so many great cases as to why and how many of the the successful obtain success. In the first chapter of Outliers, Gladwell used an example of the hockey league and how the boys who were very successful tended to be older than the rest of the boys by almost a year. Therefore, the older boys were stronger, smarter, and more skillful than their opponents.

Although the idea of accumulative avantage seems unfair, I do not believe that it is. It is just a way of life. I always try to remind myself, "What God has for me it is for me." As for accumulative advantages at SIUe, I more than positive that it occurs here.
Yasmyn K.

Marta Ayele said...

I find that it is not only interesting that this pattern exists, but that it effects nearly every form of competitive competition, from sports to school. The greatest surprise I thought was that students in the youngest group in their class are under-represented at colleges by 11.6%. This is a perfect example of just how much of a disadvantage one has if born at the end of the year.
In sports, it is much more obvious. Think about two 8-year olds, one born in January, the other in December of the same year, and how different they will be. The January born one will be taller, stronger, and more mentally mature then the December born one. If they were both playing soccer, coaches would naturally give the stronger one more attention and training then the weaker, younger one.
Given the disadvantage a child has simply because of when they were born, it takes considerably more talent and intelligence for a December born child to over come challenges that they will face in their life.

Marta A

Evan Lawler said...

I think that not only hockey but any sport that it is true having an earlier birthday do have an advantage. However, it could also be labeled as a disadvantage. The reason being, someone who is younger and plays against kids older do have a disadvantage. That is clear. But in their own way they have an advantage because they have room to challenge themselves. They are able to go against the bigger, stronger, and more mature person and truly see if they can over come the challenge. This goes the same for schooling. The ones who are thrown into the smarter, more mature group of kids are able to see what they can accomplish. When its all said and done, compared to the kids their own age and level of maturity they will stand out and be much more successful.

Sean Adams said...

First and foremost i want to state that i found it interesting that it was implied that everyone has talent. It is shocking when YOu look at the examples of how not everyone gets the chance to show their talent because of problems that are beyond the control of the individual. How this could apply at SIUE is in sports. Simply being born in an earlier month gives one more time to devlop and hone their skills. Along those lines are maturity(both mental and physical) levels will vary among peers simply based on the fact that one has had more time to mature. This could affect school work and many other aspects of life such as academic sucess. If a prof. expects students to be at a certain level then it is putting a somewhat unfair disadvantge to those students born in the latter months.

Camille D said...

Accumulative advantage is a non factor in my eyes. Although more hockey players born in the winter are better than those born in any other season; there are still hockey players born in other seasons that are just as good if not better. Therefore, I believe it is not an advantage you have that makes you better at whatever you are good at; it depends on your drive, dedication, and time you put into making yourself the best you can be in the field of your choice.

Travontae Williams said...

The first idea that comes to my mind when I think of accumulative advantage is beginning your education. Children who are born within the early months of a given year are always able to start their education in advance to the children born in the laters months of a given year. Even though they are roughly the same age and have the same capacity to learn, the late births will never be able to have that advantage. I dont find accumulative advantage to be a form of inequality. I would suggest it to a variety of opportunity. Just because one may have an advantage in one form does mean that they have the upperhand in life. You may possess a different advantage that is equal or greater than theirs. At SUIe I have not found very many inequalities in educational opportunities. It is what the students do with their abilities that would suggest whether or not it is an advantage.

Ashley Rosales said...

I definitely think accumulative advantage is present in many different formats. From sports to school, older kids usually have the advantage because they are more developed. I think we should take the advantage into consideration at schools like SIUE by making academic help available for everyone. If younger and older kids receive the same help then it will even the playing field.

Shauntay C. said...

I believe that there is not an accumulative advantage per se because everyone is born with their own particular talent. I do not feel that nessicarly the older someone is makes them better. People grow and mature around their own enviromanet for example kids with parents in the military have different expirences then those born and raised in a small town Thus their outlook is affected greatly. Where accumulative advantage may come into play is with exposure in a particualr environment. For example, kids raised in a neighborhood where baseball is a domiant sprt tend to suceed in playing baseball. Depending on where the university is some may nuture extreme veiws pertaining certaint topics.

Rachael Obe said...

I think accumulative advantage, as unfair as it may be to a select group of people, can be a beneficial discovery overall. Children born earliest in the year, have a greater advantage over children born later in that same year. They are smarter, more mature, and can advance their abilities sooner than other children.

Justin Smith said...

The idea of accumulative advantage makes sense. A friend of mine was born so late in the summer, that she started school on her fifth birthday. Throughout the year, the other students were turning six. This trend continued on during the crucial years of brain development. This puts her almost a year behind the rest of her classmates. This was a major disadvantage for her in sports and in the classroom.
On the other hand, with hard work, a child can overcome the disadvantages.