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The Right Birthday is the Key to Success in the Matthew Effect - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Class 2 July 2012 The Right Birthday is the Key to Success in the “Matthew Effect” Give me your birthdates and I will tell you if you will be successful or not. It sounds ridiculous, but it has statistical and anecdotal evidence to back it up…
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The Right Birthday is the Key to Success in the Matthew Effect

Download file to see previous pages... In hockey, for instance, being born between the months of January to March, gives some talented children the benefit of looking bigger and stronger. As a result, they get drafted to leagues that prepare them for the Memorial Cup. They receive better training, education, and attention, which enhance their chances of success. This is called the “Matthew Effect,” which is based on the concept of “accumulative advantage.” It states that a little advantage early in life, when sustained through subsequent opportunities, lasts a lifetime. I agree with this theory, because I also experienced and witnessed how older people and people, who had the looks and background, find the way to the top easier than the rest, who do not have these advantages. Gladwell’s idea of success is different from the general public, because the latter romanticizes the idea of self-effort, which is vital to the notion of the American Dream. On the contrary, Gladwell asserts that success is largely a product of environmental and biological factors. The general public often thinks that successful people are wholly self-made. They started from the bottom and inched their way to the top. Self-determination and individual effort are well-admired ingredients of the American Dream. In essence, this dream stresses that no one can stop a driven individual, whatever his/her color, gender, and age might be. Gladwell disagrees with this thinking, because he believes that successful people have certain advantages in one way or another. He examined the trends in the birthdays of children and adolescents getting into Canadian hockey teams. He discovered that the cutoff dates in the educational and sports systems give advantage to children, who were born at certain months. As a result, those who were born in other months do not have the same training, education, and attention given to them, which disadvantage them as students and athletes in the long run. These examples suggest that the public’s idea of individual success is not so individual-driven after all. Gladwell’s thinking is important, because he brings into public discussion the implanted disadvantages in society, which is bad for individuals and the general public alike. The “Matthew Effect” suggests that children, who do not get through different kinds of cutoff, get lesser resources and attention than those who do. At the same time, children, who are born at the right time and place, also get unwarranted advantages. This means that one of the negative outcomes of the “Matthew Effect” is social inequality. The society does not benefit from this system too, because it does not maximize all potential talents and skills, as Gladwell points out. This kind of system prioritizes particular people, which promote social inequality in the long run, and leads to unused or undeveloped talents, talents that society can also reap to become more developed as time goes by. Gladwell recommends overhauling the system to ensure that people, who are born at the same months or at certain clusters, are trained together, so that they can access equal resources and attention from their teachers and talent scouts. I agree with Gladwell, because I think that the “Matthew Effect” is real and significant in actual life, based on first-hand experiences and memories. I have a younger brother, who is now14 years old and his birthday is in December. The cutoff for kindergarten is January. Our parents held him back for ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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