In “The Matthew Effect” chapter of Outliers, journalist Malcolm Gladwell argues that success is not always a function of exceptional individual talent or effort. Instead, he reveals, external factors beyond the control of individuals contribute to success.
While Gladwell uses junior hockey to illustrate his argument, he is making a broader argument about success in order to counter the widely held cultural narrative that individual talent and effort are the sole factors determining success. Let’s try to use his argument to think about what kinds of factors external to the individual might shape the literacy success or failure of individuals.
In a reply to this comment, compose an informal mini-essay (with a beginning, middle, and end) in which you consider what kinds of external factors might have shaped the literacy successes or challenges of one of the Rising Cairn writers.
To make the connection between Gladwell’s theory and the literacy experiences of your writer, you’ll first need to use TRIAC to summarize Gladwell’s argument about success. As you explain Gladwell’s theory, be sure to convey enough of his evidence to make his ideas credible to your readers. You’ll need to paraphrase and/or quote Gladwell in this segment; be sure to use signal phrases and parenthetical citation.
In a second segment, you will need to connect Gladwell’s ideas to the literacy experience of your Rising Cairn writer. To do so, consider how Gladwell might explain the literacy success or failure of your writer. What factors external to him or her might contribute to his or her literacy successes or failures? The Barclay’s paragraph structure may be helpful here. You’ll also need to summarize, paraphrase, and quote from a Rising Cairn literacy narrative in this segment.
In a third segment, consider the degree to which the external factors you identify as contributing factors in your writer’s literacy successes and failures might explain the literacy successes and failures of a substantial number of people. What one or two things do we learn about literacy by considering your writer’s literacy successes or failures in light of Gladwell’s theory? In this segment, you’re focusing on the implications of your analysis of your writer’s experiences for our understanding of literacy. You might make a connection to Gee or Delpit here, if something strikes you as relevant.