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The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genes, Talent and Intelligence is Wrong Paperback – 6 Jan 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (6 Jan. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848312180
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848312180
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 109,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'David Shenk sweeps aside decades of misconceptions about genetics - and shows that by overstating the importance of genes, we've understated the potential of ourselves. A persuasive and inspiring book that will make you think anew about your life and our shared future.' -- Daniel H. Pink, author of 'Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us ' 'A deeply interesting and important book.' -- New York Times 'A great book. David Shenk handily dispels the myth that one must be born a genius. From consistently whacking the ball out of the park to composing ethereal piano sonatas, Shenk convincingly makes the case for the potential genius that lies in all of us. While our genes may provide a nice runway, only hard work and unwavering focus can allow true genius to take flight.' -- Rudolph E. Tanzi, Harvard Medical School 'Old fashioned beliefs, a desire to simplify and the remarkable successes of molecular biology led to an undue emphasis on the role of genes in the development of human intelligence. Environmental determinism exists too, but biology and psychology have moved well beyond these extreme positions. The importance of David Shenk's book is that he has made accessible to a wide audience the advances in the understanding of how each person develops. I congratulate him.' -- Sir Patrick Bateson, Cambridge University "The Genius in All of Us' has quietly blown my mind.' -- Laura Miller, Salon 'A welcome new book...compelling...Shenk's thesis is that intellectual capacity is not a gift, fixed permanently in our cells. It's a process.' -- Boston Globe 'Cogent and compelling...[Shenk's book] will convince many readers that the conventional wisdom about talent is due to be overthrown. Shenk gets that revolution well under way.' -- Week 'The thinking man's Outliers.' -- New York Magazine 'Engrossing...revives faith in not just practice and determination, but also parenting and lifestyle.' -- Booklist 'An incredibly well-researched meditation on the nature of human talent.' -- Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide, Satchi & Satchi 'Outstanding.' -- Examiner 'Shenk dissects and demolishes the notion that some people are "born geniuses"...I hope that The Genius in All of Us is widely read and discussed among educators, and that all of us take a hard look at our own assumptions.' -- Insider Higher Ed 'Teachers, parents and anyone else who is guilty of setting low expectations for American boys should read 'The Genius in All of Us." -- Education Week 'Empowering...myth-busting...entertaining.' -- Kirkus Reviews 'Startling.' -- Midwest Book Review 'Surprisingly compelling...vivid and eloquently described...equally suited to the bookshelf of a philosopher, educator, or popular science reader.' -- Phenotype Journal 'Shenk robustly disputes the popular belief that intelligence and talent are genetically predetermined and methodically explains the thousands of hours of practice behind the 'genius' of a host of musical and athletic superstars (and those amazing London cabbies).' -- Freakonomics Blog 'I wonder whether, finally, it's beginning to sink in among policymakers that the richness of people's lives depends on the richness of their environment, and not on the idea that some are doomed to be born thick. David Shenk's The Genius in All of Us should be read by anyone persisting with that myth.' -- Ethiopian Review 'Clear and exciting prose...Read [Shenk's book] if you want to read one book that will change your thinking about intelligence, genetics, [and] the role of schools in creating learning.' -- Cincinnati Metro News 'The author's presentation is convincing and fascinating. What we learn is that while not everyone can become an expert at anything, we are all hardwired to be adaptive to our environment. The right circumstances, drive, and opportunities can create amazing abilities in peoples.' -- Provo Library 'Solid journalistic research, powerful prose, and penetrating arguments inhabit this work by David Shenk...From time to time certain literary works unmask the fallacy behind 'common knowledge' masquerading as 'certainty.' 'The Genius In All of Us' is one of those.' -- Bill Dahl's The Popoise Diving Life Blog 'Shenk's explanation of the science involved is lucid and accessible... the implications of his argument for teachers are clear. Books with such profound implications for education don't come along very often.' -- Australian Educator

Review

'David Shenk sweeps aside decades of misconceptions about genetics - and shows that by overstating the importance of genes, we've understated the potential of ourselves. A persuasive and inspiring book that will make you think anew about your life and our shared future.' (Daniel H. Pink, author of 'Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us ')

‘A deeply interesting and important book.’ (New York Times)

‘A great book. David Shenk handily dispels the myth that one must be born a genius. From consistently whacking the ball out of the park to composing ethereal piano sonatas, Shenk convincingly makes the case for the potential genius that lies in all of us. While our genes may provide a nice runway, only hard work and unwavering focus can allow true genius to take flight.' (Rudolph E. Tanzi, Harvard Medical School)

'Old fashioned beliefs, a desire to simplify and the remarkable successes of molecular biology led to an undue emphasis on the role of genes in the development of human intelligence. Environmental determinism exists too, but biology and psychology have moved well beyond these extreme positions. The importance of David Shenk's book is that he has made accessible to a wide audience the advances in the understanding of how each person develops. I congratulate him.' (Sir Patrick Bateson, Cambridge University)

‘’The Genius in All of Us’ has quietly blown my mind.’ (Laura Miller, Salon)

‘A welcome new book...compelling...Shenk's thesis is that intellectual capacity is not a gift, fixed permanently in our cells. It's a process.’ (Boston Globe)

‘Cogent and compelling...[Shenk's book] will convince many readers that the conventional wisdom about talent is due to be overthrown. Shenk gets that revolution well under way.’ (Week)

‘The thinking man's Outliers.’ (New York Magazine)

‘Engrossing...revives faith in not just practice and determination, but also parenting and lifestyle.’ (Booklist)

‘An incredibly well-researched meditation on the nature of human talent.’ (Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide, Satchi & Satchi)

‘Outstanding.’ (Examiner)

‘Shenk dissects and demolishes the notion that some people are "born geniuses"...I hope that The Genius in All of Us is widely read and discussed among educators, and that all of us take a hard look at our own assumptions.’ (Insider Higher Ed)

‘Teachers, parents and anyone else who is guilty of setting low expectations for American boys should read ‘The Genius in All of Us.’’ (Education Week)

‘Empowering...myth-busting...entertaining.’ (Kirkus Reviews)

‘Startling.’ (Midwest Book Review)

‘Surprisingly compelling...vivid and eloquently described...equally suited to the bookshelf of a philosopher, educator, or popular science reader.’ (Phenotype Journal)

‘Shenk robustly disputes the popular belief that intelligence and talent are genetically predetermined and methodically explains the thousands of hours of practice behind the ‘genius’ of a host of musical and athletic superstars (and those amazing London cabbies).’ (Freakonomics Blog)

‘I wonder whether, finally, it's beginning to sink in among policymakers that the richness of people's lives depends on the richness of their environment, and not on the idea that some are doomed to be born thick. David Shenk's The Genius in All of Us should be read by anyone persisting with that myth.’ (Ethiopian Review)

‘Clear and exciting prose...Read [Shenk's book] if you want to read one book that will change your thinking about intelligence, genetics, [and] the role of schools in creating learning.’ (Cincinnati Metro News)

‘The author’s presentation is convincing and fascinating. What we learn is that while not everyone can become an expert at anything, we are all hardwired to be adaptive to our environment. The right circumstances, drive, and opportunities can create amazing abilities in peoples.’ (Provo Library)

‘Solid journalistic research, powerful prose, and penetrating arguments inhabit this work by David Shenk….From time to time certain literary works unmask the fallacy behind 'common knowledge' masquerading as 'certainty.' ‘The Genius In All of Us’ is one of those.’ (Bill Dahl’s The Popoise Diving Life Blog)

‘Shenk’s explanation of the science involved is lucid and accessible… the implications of his argument for teachers are clear. Books with such profound implications for education don’t come along very often.’ (Australian Educator)

See all Product Description

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book tells a similar story to various others in so far as the increasingly accepted position that there is no such thing as talent and that effort and practice is what counts.

Please give this review a like if you find it helpful, thank you for reading.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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