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Sports, Complexity, and the Ten-Thousand-Hour Rule

Posted Friday, 13 September 2013

Forty years ago, in a paper in American Scientist, Herbert Simon and William Chase drew one of the most famous conclusions in the study of expertise:

There are no instant experts in chess—certainly no instant masters or grandmasters. There appears not to be on record any case (including Bobby Fischer) where a person reached grandmaster level with less than about a decade's intense preoccupation with the game. We would estimate, very roughly, that a master has spent perhaps 10,000 to 50,000 hours staring at chess positions…

In the years that followed, an entire field within psychology grew up devoted to elaborating on Simon and Chase’s observation—and researchers, time and again, reached the same conclusion: it takes a lot of practice to be good at complex tasks. After Simon and Chase’s paper, for example, the psychologist John Hayes looked at seventy-six famous...

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The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent before Anyone Else by George Anders

Posted Friday, 13 September 2013

This is a book about identifying talent and predicting high performance.  It takes examples from a number of activities: from sport, the military and business. 

One of its central premises is that this is a difficult task, in which failure is the norm.  Anders also suggests that adopting conventional methods leads to conventional, unremarkable, results.  He therefore examines what some of the top institutions -whose success depends on identifying people who might have extraordinary abilities - do to judge  ability and predict high performance.

Anders suggests that "rare talent often emerges in unexpected ways" , which makes talent spotting a search for hidden virtues.  The most significant of these, the author believes is resilience.  He looks at how the Marines seek to identify this, and concludes that there is not a single...

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The Importance of Play

Posted Friday, 13 September 2013

Guided by six learning principles and three core values, connected learning is the outcome of a six-year research effort supported by the MacArthur Foundation into how learning, education, and schooling could be reimagined for a networked world.

The film asks: 
‘Might we have underestimated the value of ‘play’?’
‘How would your life look if seen through a playful state of mind?’
‘Might confidence sit at the heart of an extraordinary education?’
'Might a playful frame of mind stand to transform the experience of education?'
‘Might a playful state of mind enable the strength of our true human spirit?’

The interview subject is game designer and DePaul University professor Katie Salen, executive director of a non-profit called Institute of Play ( that is focused on games and learning and leader...

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The Age of Obesity

Posted Friday, 13 September 2013

Years ago, after a plane trip spent reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground and Weight Watchers magazine, Woody Allen melded the two experiences into a single essay. ‘I am fat,’ it began. ‘I am disgustingly fat. I am the fattest human I know. I have nothing but excess poundage all over my body. My fingers are fat. My wrists are fat. My eyes are fat. (Can you imagine fat eyes?).’ It was 1968, when most of the world’s people were more or less ‘height-weight proportional’ and millions of the rest were starving. Weight Watchers was a new organisation for an exotic new problem. The notion that being fat could spur Russian-novel anguish was good for a laugh.

That, as we used to say during my Californian adolescence, was then. Now, 1968’s joke has become 2013’s truism. For the first time in human history, overweight people outnumber...

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