Monday, October 18, 2010
Outliers and Parenting
2. Teach your kids to be a little impertinent. In one of my favorite chapters, Gladwell talks about a sociological study where researchers were flies on the wall in the homes of families of all socio-economic classes. There were many differences between rich and poor, of course, but the one they really found to make a difference was the way wealthier parents taught their children to interact with authority figures. It was what he called "entitlement in the best sense of the word."
The main case he described was an upper-class mother who told her son on the way to the doctor's office, "Now, be thinking of any questions you want to ask the doctor." She showed her son that even though he was a child, he could freely address an authority figure to get the information he wanted. Gladwell compared this to a bonafied genius in another chapter who didn't get anywhere in life because he had been trained to distrust authority and could not competently work with authority figures to work out his scholarship and stay in school when he hit a minor paperwork glitch.