Malcolm Gladwell Talks With TIME

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

By Zach Jevne

Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell has written some of the most thought-provoking books in recent years and shared his interesting takes in an interview with TIME.

The author of the best-sellers Blink, The Tipping Point and Outliers, said he likes the notion that two mildly good stories put together can equal one really good story.

"I'm interested in placing things in a larger context and in making lateral connections," Gladwell said.

When it comes to the educational system, Gladwell believes that experimentation with schools could possibly improve things.

"There's precious little experimentation in education," Gladwell said. "I think we need to try 100 different things. I don't know if it will work, but it's certainly worth a shot, and we could learn something really useful.

As someone who enjoys and studies statistics, Gladwell had an interesting take on making predictions for people and their careers based on test scores and other measuring tools.

"If you want to find out if someone can do the job, you have to let them do the job," Gladwell said. "If you want to find the best teachers, you let everybody into the profession, monitor them for two years, and then pick the 10 percent that are the best. That's how you do it, and that's completely the opposite of the way we do it now."

The former staff writer for the New Yorker also shared some advice to young journalists.

"The issue is not writing," Gladwell said. "It's what you write about. Aspiring journalists should stop going to journalism programs and go to some other kind of grad school. If I was studying today, I would go get a master's in statistics....and then write from that perspective. The role of the generalist is diminishing. Journalism has to get smarter."
(Photo Credit: Brooke Williams)


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