[Outliers Reading Group]
The “Marita’s Bargain” chapter focuses on a leading college-prep school, the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) in a struggling community in New York City. Gladwell gives special attention to one of the students, Marita, and the considerable effort and sacrifices she must make in order to do well at the school. She must rise early and study late into the night
Gladwell argues that KIPP “has succeeded by taking the idea of cultural legacies seriously.” That means that a tradition like summer vacation is replaced with year-round schooling; the times that the school day begins and ends are re-adjusted; and students are instructed to pay attention in, well, more attentive ways in class. A student like Marita is given more of a “chance” when someone brings “a little bit of the rice paddy to the South Bronx” and explains “the miracle of meaningful work.”
What aspect of the KIPP Academies system was most promising or problematic to you? Why or how so?