Does Practice Make Perfect?

Is it a perennial question: are we born with advantages that allow us to become experts or geniuses in particular areas, is it all up to the training we receive, or is it a combination of both?

A July 2016 magazine article in Time examines this question, prompted by the publication of the book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Poole. While Ericsson was responsible for previous research with musicians that may have demonstrated that high numbers of practice hours were responsible for higher performance ability (what Malcolm Gladwell then termed the “10,000-hour rule”), Howard Gardner and Ellen Winner have been critical of these findings. The article references Gardner’s view that the research ignored previous work on skill acquisition and Winner’s point that improvements seen from hard work cannot rule out the role of innate ability.

In support of these critiques and the existence of natural talent, subsequent studies have shown that people may require different amounts of practice in order to reach the same level of skill.

Click here to read more about this nature-vs.-nuture debate via Time.


One Comment on “Does Practice Make Perfect?”

  1. Carmine L. Calabro Jr. September 9, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

    I first came across Dr. Gardner’s work in graduate school (Stony Brook). I was attempting to link ‘music’ to ‘all intelligence’ (Lewis Coser and Michael Schwartz were my advisors). Some of my notes are contained in this PDF:

    While I did not complete my dissertation, others including my professors have used some of my work to advance their own (Ivan Chase). The ‘practice makes perfect’ metaphor does seem to be part and parcel of mastery of any ‘language’ and does not cloud innate skills (in my mind). In any event, should you have the time, I’d love some input from you…

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