Excellence Achieved by “Deliberate Practice” That Is Critiqued by Tough Expert Teachers

(p. A12) Dr. Ericsson, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, argued that sustained practice was far more important than any innate advantages in determining who reaches the top in athletic, artistic and other fields.

That practice, however, couldn’t be mindless repetition. He called for “deliberate practice,” preferably guided by an expert teacher, focused on identifying and correcting weaknesses and monitoring progress. If you were enjoying the practice, it probably wasn’t working.

Dr. Ericsson’s research gained prominence with the publication of “Outliers,” a 2008 book by Malcolm Gladwell. Drawing loosely on Dr. Ericsson’s findings, Mr. Gladwell proclaimed “the 10,000-Hour Rule,” to denote the typical amount of practice time needed to master certain skills, such as playing the violin at an elite level. Dr. Ericsson later wrote that Mr. Gladwell’s rule oversimplified the relevant research.

. . .

He was comfortable in an office surrounded by mounds of books and papers that appeared to have been arranged by a tornado.

For the full obituary, see:

James R. Hagerty. “Professor Studied Habits Of World-Class Experts.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, June 27, 2020): A12.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date June 25, 2020, and the title “Professor Studied How Elite Performers Reach the Top.”)

The Gladwell book that made highlighted Ericcson’s research, is:

Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success. New York, NY: Little, Brown, and Co., 2008.

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