Letter to a Prodigy’s Parents



  • Duration:
  • Intended for: Individuals
  • Formality: Graded
  • Completes in: 11 steps
  • Comments: 0
  • Materials: 3
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Michelle is a writing instructor at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park where she teaches developmental writing and composition classes. She received her PhD in rhetoric…

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Assignment Overview

Chapter 2 of Outliers introduces students to the 10,000-hour rule, the concept that it takes 10,000 hours of practice (or about 10 years of full-time commitment) to become an expert at something. Chapters 3 and 4 follow up this assertion with an examination of Christopher Langan, one of the smartest men in the world who is living in relative obscurity because his upbringing in poverty with inattentive parents left him ill-equipped to handle college.

Together, these chapters provide an opening for a discussion of practice, commitment, sacrifice, and parental involvement in a child’s future success.

This assignment explores the intersections of those topics by asking students to put themselves in the place of a gymnastics instructor who has a young student showing tremendous innate talent. How will they advise her parents? Should she leave school and commit to full-time gymnastics practice, setting her sights on the Olympics? Should she continue practicing a few hours a week like a typical first-grader, preserving her childhood but giving up her shot at stardom? Is there a middle ground?

Assignment Sheet
“Are We Pushing Kids Too Hard?”
“How Do You Raise a Prodigy?”

Image: CC by Torkn2U

Required Materials
  • Articles2
  • Computer
  • Outliers Book
Skills developed
  • Analysis
  • Argument
  • Summary
  • Incorporating Sources
11 Steps to complete

1. Read Chapter 2

2. Discuss Chapter 2

3. Read Chapter 3

4. Discuss Chapter 3

5. Read Chapter 4

6. Discuss Chapter 4 and Gymnastics

7. Introduce Paper

8. Read Articles

9. Discuss Articles

10. Peer Review

11. Final Draft

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