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Education Bookcast

Mar 19, 2023

Cover image: horse and rider by Nadia, age 5.

The nature of talent is something that I dealt with near the beginning of the existence of Education Bookcast, reviewing books like Genius Explained, Outliers, The Talent Code, and Bounce. The general consensus was that talent is an illusion - people simply get better at things through exposure and practice.

My confidence in this assertion was shaken when reading the IQ literature, but now, in the book The Road to Excellence edited by K. Anders Ericsson, the article The Rage to Master: the Decisive Role of Talent in the Visual Arts by Ellen Winner. She points out how some exceptional children are obsessed with drawing, and draw in a way that is qualitatively different to ordinary children. She argues that the aforementioned orthodoxy of talent apparently not really existing is in fact incorrect, in light of these prodigies and their extraordinary output.

In the recording, I discuss these findings and try to find a way to put it all together. Benjamin Bloom's book Developing Talent in Young People also comes in handy, as not only does Ellen Winner cite it (incorrectly, in my view), but he also provides a valuable insight into his forty years of research into learning in schools which helps us make sense of the conundrum of talent's apparent non-existence while we have well-documented examples of extraordinarily talented individuals, in the visual arts at least.

Enjoy the episode.



18. Bounce by Matthew Syed

20. Genius Explained by Michael Howe

22. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

24. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell


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