This summer Newton South students and staff read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The One School / One Book event will take place the morning of Friday, September 27 and we still need some panelists for our discussion groups. Below is a list of the panels with brief descriptions. Please email Julie Sall (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested and available to speak. In your email please include a brief background statement about yourself and on which panel you believe you can add value.
- College – Should Harvard hold an admissions lottery? Gladwell explicitly endorses this notion, claiming that above a certain level, admissions officers cannot claim to accurately differentiate between those students who would succeed at a particular university. A group of admissions experts discusses whether he’s right.
- Sports – Why are these athletes exceptional? A group of successful athletes discusses their own personal stories. To what extent are the systemic advantages Gladwell discusses present in their lives? What other factors account for their success?
- Race – If 10,000 hours is all it takes, does race matter as much as we think it does? If the circumstances of your birth are all important, does it matter more? The book cuts in a number of different directions when it’s applied to racial issues. Writers and thinkers about race in America try to make sense of the implications of Gladwell’s ideas.
- Music and Art – Why are these artists and musicians exceptional? A group of successful artists and musicians discusses their own personal stories. To what extent are the systemic advantages Gladwell discusses present in their lives? What other factors account for their success?
- Culture – Why are Asians good at math? Gladwell presents at least two different reasons that Asian cultures are particularly well suited to success in mathematics. Do these theories hold water on deeper reflection? A panel of students and academics discuss.
- Science – How accurate is Gladwell’s reading of social science? MIT’s Stephen Pinker notably disagreed with Gladwell’s reading of social science data in the New York Times Book Review. Our own panel of social science experts attempts to settle the dispute—can we trust the science in the book?
- Business – Why are these business leaders exceptional? A group of successful business people discusses their own personal stories. To what extent are the systemic advantages Gladwell discusses present in their lives? What other factors account for their success?
- Education – How well does Newton South help students become successful? Our goal, after all, is to produce successful people. Do we succeed? Do we do so because we’ve embraced the theories in the book? Despite them? Or could a closer reading of the book’s implications for education make us a better school? A panel of current and former faculty, students, and parents discusses.
We plan to finalize the panels over the next week so please email email@example.com by Friday, September 13 if you are interested in participating.