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There’s something here…

I just don’t know what exactly. So, mostly as stream of consciousness and in chronological order…

*This started when Lisa Thumann tweeted about a keynote speaker at BLC ’10 who referred to the so-called “10,000 hour rule” for mastery or expertise.

*I asked her if the speaker had a warrant for that knowledge claim beyond Malcolm Gladwell (who I knew wrote about this in Outliers).

*She confirmed that the speaker did, in fact, cite Gladwell in connection with the “10,000 hour rule.”

*George Siemens chimed in with a more learned take on the situation and linked to a research handbook and a related blog post where he commented with some information relevant to the “10,000 hour rule.”

*The post itself is interesting as an exercise in research and pushed me to think about how to create an activity for doctoral students in educational leadership wherein they identify a commonly accepted “fact” and trace it back through the literature to see if that fact holds up.

*In the meantime, I recently learned about yolink. I don’t exactly know what it is other than it seems to be like Google alerts, only better. So, I took yolink on a test ride. I created an alert for [10,000 hours Gladwell].

*In the first day, I got an alert with three blog posts: One, two, three, and one web link.

*On the second day, I got one web link.

    That web link from the second alert is most telling. Granted it’s a website about horse racing tips, but the author writes:

    “While not famous amongst the general public in his own right, Gladwell is a New York Times bestselling author whose research on extraordinarily successful people led him to come up with the 10,000 Hour Rule.”

    So, apparently, Gladwell came up with the 10,000 hour rule. Ha! Hardly.

    I have little to no subject matter expertise here (irony?), but if you read the comment from George Siemens to which I linked above, and work through some of the information, you can learn pretty quickly that all Gladwell did was synthesize selected research about mastery and expertise. There’s nothing inherently wrong with syntheses of research. But, there are problems when research is selectively chosen for a synthesis with no explanation of how that research was selected. And, furthermore, there are problems when the person(s) who conduct syntheses of research are cited as THE source of the findings.

    We can quibble about the quality of Gladwell’s work, and I’m on record with a negative take on some of his work. But, what I won’t stand for are individuals given a stage and a big audience (of educators!) who point to Gladwell as the source of the research. Malcolm Gladwell did NOT come up with the 10,000 hour rule.

    So, again, I don’t know what this is all about and why it has me all worked up. But, there’s something here…something about, but not limited to,¬†research, original sources,¬†crap-detection and, well,¬†expertise.

    Help me make meaning of this?

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