Tuesday, February 12, 2013

WDS: The Art of Failure

Haley Scholars Spring 2013 Reading Groups

By Cindy Lyles

Through the vividly expressed vignettes found in “The Art of Failure: Why Some People Choke and Others Panic,” Malcolm Gladwell explores the differences between choking versus panicking when one is under pressure. Gladwell succinctly summarizes the definitions of panicking and choking like this: “Panic…is the opposite of choking. Choking is about thinking too much. Panic is about thinking too little. Choking is about loss of instinct. Panic is reversion to instinct. They may look the same, but they are worlds apart” (269).

Gladwell later expounds in the article on his ideas about panicking and choking. In regards to choking specifically, he mentions that “stereotype threat” (275) can trigger a certain group to choke and underperform, especially when taking tests that marginalized students knowingly measure their aptitude and abilities as compared to others (e.g. black students on a standardized test versus white students, women on a math test versus men, white athletes physicality versus black athletes).

What's one of the more recent instances of “stereotype threat” have you noticed at SIUE, where failure occurred because second guesses became especially prominent? What outside assumptions influenced the under-performance, and in what ways can we challenge those notions in order to break free from a cycle of choking (or panicking)?


Ashley Bass said...

Recently, my roomate was into this guy and really wanted to talk to him. She decided to find out more about him and learned that he typically only dated white girls. That made her feel like she did not have a chance with him, because she was black. After finding out that information she decided not to try and pursue him, because she assumed she was not his type. Now she will never know what could have happened, because she never gave it a chance. In order to prevent people from choking, no one should ever doubt themselves. No matter the situation people should go into it with their held head high. If people stop doubting themeselves and believe that they can achieve something then they may be able to. When people doubt themselves it causes them to underperform or not perform at all.Going into a situation with bad thoughts will just lead to a bad outcome. If people go into a situation knowing who they are, what they can do and not thinking about everyone else, things are bound to turn out better.

Terry T said...

My example comes from minorities in the engineering program. Several guys from my graduating class wanted to be engineers but decided not to because of the majority of white and asian students in that field. They felt that there would be no scholarship opportunities, they would be at the bottom of the class and they would not be successful. These men all went to college and I'm sure will succeed in their new choice of major but they will miss out on doing what they truly wanted to do just because they felt their race would hinder them. Instead of changing majors I embraced that I was the minority and joined clubs geared towards furthering minority success. I believe this sense of mental maturity is what will make the difference in choking and panicking.

Joneshia Y. said...

My friend was a nursing major and was immensely passionate about the nursing and medical field. But, because of the fact that the nursing program here at SIUE has predominately Caucasian students, she began to doubt herself and her chances of actually getting into the nursing program. As a result of this, her grades began to drop and her GPA became to low to even consider applying for the nursing program. I feel that if she would have believed in herself at the start of the semester and not worry about the ethnic demographics of the program, then she would have gotten a better GPA and better her chances of getting into the nursing program.

Jessica H said...

Being apart of the nursing program shows the difference and causes stereotypes. African American students can feel as if they are not on the same level or capable of achieving the same grade as Caucasian student. This very notion can cause chocking. But each student is capable of achieving the grade that they work for. Searching and using every resource available to you helps in order to succeed. Regardless interacting with each other and not working against each other helps out tremendously.

Dj Sterling said...

I am the only black male pursuing vocal performance as my major at SIUE. I also haven't had any private training in piano or for my voice before attending college, so sometimes I feel far behind the other students in my field. The very first time I had to perform in my studio class was nerve racking. In my mind, I kept comparing myself to the other students and was immensely criticizing myself. The performance ended up being mediocre. It has gotten a lot better since then. My passion is to sing and I stay focused on that to erase all fears and doubts that cause choking.