Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Another View of Deliberate Practice

According to the Wikipedia entry about deliberate practice psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, a professor of Psychology at Florida State University, has been a pioneer in researching deliberate practice and what it means. According to Ericsson:

People believe that because expert performance is qualitatively different from normal performance the expert performer must be endowed with characteristics qualitatively different from those of normal adults. [...] We agree that expert performance is qualitatively different from normal performance and even that expert performers have characteristics and abilities that are qualitatively different from or at least outside the range of those of normal adults. However, we deny that these differences are immutable, that is, due to innate talent. Only a few exceptions, most notably height, are genetically prescribed. Instead, we argue that the differences between expert performers and normal adults reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.

This Wikipedia entry also cites criticism of deliberate practice. It states the following, “Two recent articles in Current Directions in Psychological Science criticize deliberate practice and argue that, while it is necessary for reaching high levels of performance, it is not sufficient, with other factors such as talent being important as well.”

I wanted to added another source to the Wikipedia’s entry about criticism of Ericsson’s theory of deliberate practice. My edited post is below and can be located at  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Practice_(learning_method).

Malcolm Gladwell’s point-of-view about deliberate practice is different than Ericsson’s view.  Gladwell, staff writer at New York Magazine and author of five books on The New York Times Best Seller list including Outliers: The Story of Success said in a May 2016 Freakonomics podcast interview that, “He’s [Ericsson] a hard practice guy, and I’m a soft practice guy.” Gladwell says that talent is important with intentional dedication to practice and having a support system is vital to produce superior outcomes. It not all about methodical effort as Ericsson claims.

I agree with Gladwell that raw talent combined with deliberate practice is not enough to become a superior performer. The myth that hard work alone will get you to the top of your chosen field is a fallacy.

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