Posted by: jowanderer | January 31, 2008

There is some hope, since talks between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood studio bosses resumed last week after a long and acrimonious stand-off over the Christmas holidays

The biggest issue remains the royalties paid to writers for TV shows and films streamed over the internet, as well as content downloaded on iTunes. So far, the writers have had the support of the Screen Actors Guild, which will face the same issues when its contract runs out in June.

When Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, published her findings on gifted children she uncovered a more depressing outcome. “I get countless letters from adults who say that they had that false promise, that people told them how clever they were and how successful they were going to be – so they never worked hard, never persevered. Many of them have a hugely high IQ, but they never graduated from college and never seriously pursued a profession.”

More generally, Dweck has found that telling children that they are clever can hold them back – they develop fixed mindsets. A child labelled “gifted” may become risk-averse in his work, try less hard and take the easier option every time because he doesn’t want to jeopardise his “clever” status. And many children believe the hype – that if you’re clever you can just “coast”.

“I don’t think there’s any evidence that you can suddenly become a genius. Everyone has to put in the years of concentrated practice,” says Anders Ericsson, Professor of Psychology at Florida State University and editor of The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance. He points out that when we see an individual who has achieved extraordinary mastery in a field, we think we can see at a glance why they are such a high achiever, yet few of us pay attention to the 15 to 20 years that person spent slogging it out before they hit gold.

After interviewing thousands of high achievers, Ericsson and his colleagues believe that they have discovered what it takes to be great: deliberate practice. There is a wonderfully egalitarian whiff about this belief – a possibility that with the right tuition, the right mentors and at least a decade of extremely intense focused work we could all get there.

Controversially, Ericsson even questions whether any of us is born with “genius” – as opposed to something that can be manufactured, an asset that a few highly motivated individuals can acquire.


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