Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Accumulative Advantages & Outliers

Haley Scholars Fall 2012 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?

19 comments:

Jhalia Barber said...

I do not believe in the concept of "accumulative advantage". I think that everybody has the same chance to use their talents, no matter what month of the year you are born. Just because a person was born in January instead of October does not give them a special advantage over one that was born in October instead of January. Everybody has talent, and what they decide to do with it is strictly their choice. Everybody has an equal chance to achieve greatness. So, the entire "accumulative advantage" concept is untrue in my opinion.

Jhalia Barber said...

I do not believe in the concept of "accumulative advantage". I believe that everybody has an equal chance of achieving greatness, no matter what month of the year they are born in. A person born in January does not get special rewards and advantages over a person born in October. Everybody has talent, and what they decide to do with it is strictly up to them. In my opinion, Gladwell's theory is untrue. Let's take this theory and apply it to SIUE's enrollment pattern. If we were to do a study, and more students were born in the later months of a certain year than the beginning, would the "accumulative advantage" theory still work? No, it would not. Therefore, I believe that this theory is incomplete and needs more study behind it to eliminate other options and opinions that it could be false.

Malia G. said...

I do not believe in the concept of accumulative advantage. The thought that someone's birthday could be the main cause of their success isn't entirely accurate. I believe that a person's success, whether it be academic or physical, is based on their skill level and dedication to what they are doing. Everyone, in my opinion, has equal opportunity to showcase their talents, whether their birthday is in the beginning of the year or the end of the year. In regards to SIUE and university like it, I don't believe this concept applies.

Sandra Nnoung said...

I do not believe in "accumulative advantages". In the book they focus on self fulfilling prophecies. They take the kids born earlier in the year and give them special training. That makes it seem as if they were born with a talent that the other kids did not have.
Kids born in the same year usually have the same level of understanding. I do not think being born in earlier months give them an advantage over other kids their age. If given the same opportunities, kids have equal advantages in achieving success.

Anonymous said...

Being an athlete I firmly believe in "accumulative advantage". The fact that Gladwell uses hockey players and their birthdays to display this is a great example. Most people that have many hours of practice are usually better than those that do not.

This can be applied to any aspect of life, including education. Many kids in Chicago didn't start school until age 5 and I started at 2 years of age. The drop out rate is 40% but I'm now a highschool graduate and college student.

It seems like I may be living proof of the "accumulative advantage".

Jeremy H.

Anonymous said...

Maya E.
I believe that the workings of accumulative advantage are not healthy for society today. Accumulative advantage creates large disparities in the community. Although the theory is correct that many did not do this all by themselves and had help along the way by a system that favors their birth dates.It does not make it right, because it leaves a lot of people in the shadow, because they were not born in a specific month. Which is not right morally in my opinion.

As a university we should bring these issues up to the forefront of conversations and confront them head on. Many people like to leave this topic untouched and ignore the reality of the situation. It is important that we as critical thinking individuals acknowledge that some of us did not get here simply because of our own contributions. It is important that we acknowledge that there have been systems put in place that have allowed us to get where we are now in life. People need to know about these hidden systems of rewards and disadvantages, and how they are unfair in some instances as far as physical needs, and educational needs, because some kids are left out because others receive more attention.

Anonymous said...


Stelisa J said...

I do agree that the workings of accumulative advantage can lead to the idea of inequality. I do not believe that it is fair to give particular children special opportunities just because of the month they were born in. Children can mature and excel within their environment if they are given the chance and support in order to succeed. I think there are hidden systems such as this one not only at SIUE but other institutions as well.

Conradette King said...

I believe that every child deserves the right to prosper in any thing that they do. The concept of " accumulative advantage" is unfair and unjust. No child should have special advantage because they were born in January.

Conradette King said...

I do not agree with the concept of " accumulative advantage" No child should get special treatment because of the fact that they were born earlier in the year. I hope that accumulative advantage is not used in any institutions especially at University like SIUE.

Joneshia Y. said...

I do not believe in the concept of accumulative advantage. Being born in the early months versus being born in the later months should not have an effect on the level of success and power you can attain. Being successful is based on dedication, motivation, and skill; not on the month you were born in.

Joneshia Y. said...

I do not believe in the concept of accumulative advantage. Being born in the early months versus being born in the later months should not have an effect on the level of success and power you can attain. Being successful is based on dedication, motivation, and skill; not on the month you were born in.

Kayleigh E. said...

I believe the concept of accumulative advantage. It makes sense for athletes especially. In the academic sense though, I think it does not have that big of an effect on people. In sports, children mature and grow at fast rates and a couple months can make a big difference. In school, being a couple months older does not make that big of a difference. Intelligence is partly from genes but also from hard work. I also believe that accumulative advantage only affects people at a young age. So the damage has already been done by the time we get to college. SIUE does not need to do anything, it is the grade schools.

Terry Taborn said...

I agree with the concept of "accumulative advantage". I saw it in High School. The best athletes were the ones who were older. The starters on the basketball team were juniors and two years older than I was my senior year. It only makes sense though. If someone is older, even if only a year, that is a year they have to mature, learn, and grow. The people in these positions cannot help but to be good.

Jenee' Brown said...

I think that the author made a good point when talking about "accumulative advantage". I believe that those who work harder for what they want will ultimately go farther. However, those conveniently born just after the cutoff dates are given a bit of a boost and those born later can get left behind much easier. In some ways it is unfair, but it's a difficult problem to fix. I also think that people should not simply say that their success is all their own because every successful person has been given at least a few advantages and has had help along the way.

Jamal Sims said...

Growing up as an athlete, I definitely believe in "accumulative advantage". Take high school sports for example; individuals who are in the same grade as you, but are a year older than you are more likely to be stronger, faster, and more experienced athletically due to their age difference. Considering this example along with Gladwell's hockey example, I believe this theory to be valid in the world today. When individuals are given better opportunities, they are more able to excel, whether it's academics or athletics.

Jamal Sims said...

Growing up as an athlete, I definitely believe in "accumulative advantage". Take high school sports for example; individuals who are in the same grade as you, but are a year older than you are more likely to be stronger, faster, and more experienced athletically due to their age difference. Considering this example along with Gladwell's hockey example, I believe this theory to be valid in the world today. When individuals are given better opportunities, they are more able to excel, whether it's academics or athletics.

Robert F said...

I believe in the concept of "accumulative advantage". The numbers prove that this statement is true. It isn't coincidence that all the hockey players were born in the earlier months of the year. They were a year older, with a extra year of size and strength. Everybody has the same opportunities, it is just that some people are already at an advantage over the other. Even without the advantage, anyone can achieve their highest goals as long as they put their all into it.

Robert F said...

I believe in the concept of "accumulative advantage". The numbers prove that this statement is true. It isn't coincidence that all the hockey players were born in the earlier months of the year. They were a year older, with a extra year of size and strength. Everybody has the same opportunities, it is just that some people are already at an advantage over the other. Even without the advantage, anyone can achieve their highest goals as long as they put their all into it.

Trinity Foree said...

The effect this concept of "accumulative advantage" has on the society is unfortunate, and it can be very beneficial that this is being further explored and discussed. In light of this information, schools should begin to reconsider cut-off dates and special programs that are available to students at a young age.