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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And, the good news is that no-one is doomed to mediocrity!
Shenk: The genius in all of us.

The great thing about Shenk's book is that it casts out the belief in the immutability of intelligence. I grew up with the concept of "g" (general intelligence) and saw its profound effect on education. It suited stratified societies to continue the myth of "g" but it couldn't explain away drive and motivation. Yong Zhao (2009)...
Published on 29 May 2010 by Dr Neil MacNeill

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting but a confused conclusion
This was a fascinating read, but with the final section on epigenetics, it seemed to fundamentaly contradict the claims the book made in the first section. Also like a lot of books that take this position, it argued somewhat ludicrously that West African males have no particular innate advantage in sporting events like the 100 metres and it's all down to attitude and...
Published on 25 Jan 2011 by Stuart Fairney


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And, the good news is that no-one is doomed to mediocrity!, 29 May 2010
By 
Dr Neil MacNeill "Dr Neil MacNeill" (Ellenbrook, Western Australia, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genes, Talent and Intelligence is Wrong (Hardcover)
Shenk: The genius in all of us.

The great thing about Shenk's book is that it casts out the belief in the immutability of intelligence. I grew up with the concept of "g" (general intelligence) and saw its profound effect on education. It suited stratified societies to continue the myth of "g" but it couldn't explain away drive and motivation. Yong Zhao (2009) also warned of the educational problem of high scores, low ability.

In an equation that acknowledges that intelligence is a function of environment (G X E), the triggers for intelligence growth were identified as:
1. Speaking to children early and often;
2. Reading early and often;
3. Nurturance and encouragement;
4. Setting high expectations;
5. Embracing failure;
6. Encouraging a `growth mindset'. (pp. 39-40)

In the story of Suzuki developing a world famous violin pedagogy, his starting point was a faith that every student has enormous potential, and then with parental support that potential is developed.

Shenk says that at birth the parents of the child have two alternatives:
a. The prodigy that is pushed by narcissistic parents, and then fall back into mediocrity in adulthood; or
b. The emotionally balanced child who will gather skills and develop greatness as an adult. Walter Mischel's marshmallow experiment of delayed gratification is still as relevant today as it was thirty years ago.

Epigenetics is an area of genetic study that is developing, and it claims that the effects of events and trauma can be transferred across generations. John Cloud wrote in Time magazine- Why Your DNA Isn't Your Destiny (January 6, 2010).

Shenk's contribution to genetics, education and life is his belief in the plasticity of human potential. All educators need to rejoice at this conclusion, and the book should be compulsory reading for all teachers and aspirant teachers.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A self-help book with loads of references? What's going on?, 2 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genes, Talent and Intelligence is Wrong (Hardcover)
The Genius in All of Us traverses a similar path to Talent is Overrated and Outliers, but has enough differences to warrant a look. Unlike Gladwell's splendid Outliers, which is more of a journalistic investigation and less aimed at personal development, The Genius in All of Us focusses on the specific type of 'hard practice' that high acheivers perform. Unlike Talent is Overrated, Shenk's focus is less on corporate excellence and more on personal excellence.

Shenk's focus seems more personal (almost -if one can forgive the cliche- existential), and this permeates throughout his work. At one point, he even discusses the struggles he has as a writer, and he clearly puts himself through some punishment in the writing and editing process, re-drafting until he is absolutely happy. As a consequence of his own perfectionism, this book is short, with only half of it being taken up by the actual text- the last half is his notes and references. It is good to see a book in this genre with a flora of referencing; I did however, feel a little cheated when I realised this book was over halfway through (especially after buying the hardback).

Had I been aware of this before hand, I would still have bought the book, and having realised Shenk's network of referencing at the back, I would have worked through his notes concurrently, as they do provide an extra level of analysis. He is also -as far as I am aware- the only author in this genre to tackle the issue of genetics and how they relate to level of performance (he goes as far as to critique the 'monozygotic twin' studies so beloved of Pinker in The Blank Slate). In addition, he also deals nicely with some of the many critiques leveled at Gladwell's thesis about how many hours is required to make someone 'elite'.

Finally, he focusses heavily on the successes of Michael Jordan, but Jordan's success is only part of the story- I would have liked some consideration of Jordan's brief (but disastrous) flirtation with professional Baseball. Why did Jordan's drive not translate into results? Was he too old? I'm quite sure that Shenk's thesis would not be harmed by Jordan's failure, but strengthened, after all, part of the thesis of this book is the embracing of failure.

In the end, this is a well referenced, even-toned book that adds to a growing number of well researched self-help books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why "genetic influence itself is not predetermined, but [rather] an ongoing process", 27 Jun 2013
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Whereas in Denise Shekerjian's book, Uncommon Genius, the focus is on 40 recipients of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship grant (often referred to as "the genius grant"), David Shenk's focus is on how and why, "dynamic development," greatness of achievement "is something to which any kid - of any age can [and should] aspire." If not in all of us, there is potential genius in most of us. "I am arguing that few of us ever get to know our own true potential, and that many of us mistake early difficulties for innate limits. I am arguing that genetic influence itself is not predetermined, but an ongoing process."

Shenk has done his homework, citing in his 25-page bibliography eight seminal articles published by K. Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University. For almost four decades, they have conducted research on the process of achieving peak performance. Their influence on Shenk soon becomes evident: He names Part One, Chapters One to Six, "The Myth of Gifts." The Ericsson research leaves little (if any) doubt about the importance of (on average) 10,000 hours of "deep, deliberate practice under strict and expert supervision. Natural talent ("gifts") and luck can also be factors. For example, when members of youth sports teams are grouped according to calendar year birthdays, those born during the first six months have an advantage and those born in January-March have a significant advantage.

Shenk suggests another factor to consider, also. "The genius-in-all-of-us is not some hidden brilliance buried inside of our genes. It is the very design of the human genome - built to adapt to the world around us and to the demands we put on ourselves. With humility, with hope, and with extraordinary determination, greatness is something to which any kid - of any age - can aspire."

These are among the dozens of observations of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of the book's thematic scope. All but the first and last are Shenk's.

o "Compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources...Stating the thing broadly, the human individual lives far within his limits." William James)

o "Contrary to what we've been taught, genes do not determine physical and character traits on their own. Rather, they interact with the environment in a dynamic ongoing process that produces and continually refines an individual." (Page 15)

o "Intelligence is not an innate aptitude, hardwired at conception or in the womb, but a collection of developing skills driven by the interaction between genes and environment. No one is born with a predetermined amount of intelligence. Intelligence (and IQ scores) can be improved. Few adults come close to their true intellectual potential." (34)

o "Child prodigies and superlative adult achievers are often not the same people. Understanding what makes remarkable abilities appear at different phases of a person's life provides an important insight into what talent really is." (84)

o "The old nature/nurture paradigm suggests that control over our lives is divided between genes (nature) and our own decisions (nurture)). In fact, we have far more control over our genes - and far less control over our environment - than we think." (115)

o "It must not be left to genes and parents to foster greatness; spurring individual achievement is also the duty of society. Every culture must strive to foster values that bring out the best in people." (144)

o "We have long understood [believed to be true] that lifestyle cannot alter heredity. But it turns out that it can..." (155)

o "Evidence for the contribution of talent over and above practice has proven extremely elusive...[In contrast] evidence is now emerging that exceptional performance in memory, chess, music, sports and other arenas can be fully accounted for on the basis of an age-old adage: practice makes perfect." David Shanks (171) However, Ericsson and his colleagues have concluded that there are many different types and degrees of practice that produce different types and degrees of result.

As indicated, David Shenk`s approach in this book is to review the situation: misconceptions about individual differences in talent and human intelligence; identify the problem: very few of us ever get to know or are even aware of our human potential; offer a solution in the form of an argument: use dynamic development to "tap into the genetic assets we already have"; and then present 178 pages of evidence in support of that argument.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Shekerjian's aforementioned Uncommon Genius as well as Doug Lemov's Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better, Geoff Colvin's Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, Daniel Coyle's The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How, and Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success. All of these authors express their substantial debt to Ericsson and his pioneering research. If you really want to put some white caps on your gray matter, read Gerald Edelman's Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On The Matter of The Mind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changes your view of skill, 12 Jan 2012
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Skill is underpinned form the abilities you inherit from your parents, right? WRONG.
This book will give you many examples of how hard work is far more important than talent.
Recommended reading to my A level PE students.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope for all of us, 3 May 2010
By 
Dr. Eli Joseph Jaldow "red devil" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genes, Talent and Intelligence is Wrong (Hardcover)
I liked this book with its positive message of seeing genes not as fatalistic determinants of us as human beings, but as possibilities shaped by the environment (it's not nature vs nurture, it's nature interacting with nurture). Essentially the message is; if you work hard stay focused and believe, you'll get there. I liked the very detailed references provided supporting the well researched claims made by the author.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting but a confused conclusion, 25 Jan 2011
By 
Stuart Fairney (Hampshire) - See all my reviews
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This was a fascinating read, but with the final section on epigenetics, it seemed to fundamentaly contradict the claims the book made in the first section. Also like a lot of books that take this position, it argued somewhat ludicrously that West African males have no particular innate advantage in sporting events like the 100 metres and it's all down to attitude and culture plus good old racism. This struck me as nonsense on stilts. It's worth reading for the section on epigentics alone and this is an areas that is worth studying as it seems to blow apart natural selection alone as an evolutionary driver, but I do not know how widely this concept is accepted. Interesting but ultimately confused in its thinking.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book!, 23 May 2014
By 
L. Broadhead (Winchester UK) - See all my reviews
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Great informative book. For anyone interested in the nature v nurture debate…this one ticks all the boxes for me! About IQ, talent and genius!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, easy to read, 18 Feb 2014
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Easy to read but goes into enough detail to not leave you wanting more. A lot of these books struggle to appeal to the masses but still gives enough detail, this one doesnt
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4.0 out of 5 stars I think is a great book and give a lot of insights about intelligence and how to use it., 12 May 2013
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Because it is a great book as I expected and recived on time. And for me was very helpful because I am try to learn something about genius
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5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening, 3 Mar 2013
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Interesting educational research making us rethink what we have been led to believe in the past.
Perfect for anyone interested in teaching and learning.
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