Outliers Syllabus


I’ve found Outliers to be a great book for layering in supplementary materials and taking the conversation beyond the scope of the book itself, giving students the opportunity to bring in their own experiences and viewpoints on many occasions.

The following schedule represents the reading units and
accompanying papers I’ve used to organize this class.

For a more specific example of day-to-day activities, you may find these general syllabi templates useful.


Readings: Outliers Introduction and Chapter 1
“Dispelling the Meritocracy Myth” by Lorriz Anne Alvarado

Writing Emphasis: Brainstorming, Reflection

What is Success?


ReadingsOutliers Chapters 2-4
“How Do You Raise a Prodigy” by Andrew Solomon, New York Times article
“Are We Pushing Our Kids Too Hard” by David Elkins, Psychology Today article
Video of Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglass and family discussing childhood practice routine

Writing Emphasis: Audience, Format, Persuasion, Synthesis

Letter to a Prodigy’s Parents


ReadingsOutliers Chapters 4-5
30 Powerful Quotes on Failure”
Barkley 100 Marathon Documentary

Writing Emphasis: Reflection, Synthesis, Organization, Narrative

The Role of Failure in Success


ReadingsOutliers Chapters 6-8
Introduction to Media Literacy
Music Videos

Writing Emphasis: Organization, Introductions and Conclusions

Success in Pop Culture


ReadingsOutliers Chapter 9-Epilogue

Writing Emphasis: Style, Grammar, Syntax, Reflection

Paper 5: For the final paper, students write a reflection on what they’ve learned in the course about both the course theme (success) and writing. They use examples from their previous papers to illustrate their growth as writers and to demonstrate any changes to their thoughts on success.

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