David and Goliath

Posted by Marissa Carroll on 10/21/2016

Our inaugural Parent and Faculty Book club was an intimate discussion group of faculty members and parents who met in our theater over coffee and pastries. The discussion centered around Malcolm Gladwell's book, David and Goliath. Gladwell's ideas caused the group to ponder the success of underdogs in society and, considering college admissions, whether or not being a "big fish in a small pond" is helpful to the college experience.

Through his accessible and vignette style writing, Gladwell introduces us to many examples of underdogs who challenged the status quo and won, using a myriad of tactics along the way. Whether it be outlining the non-traditional basketball coaching of an inexperienced team in the Silicon Valley or highlighting the events that led to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s success in overcoming racial tensions in the South, our readers were exposed to stories of underdogs that we did not know existed. Of particular interest to our readers was the section on students initially declared as science majors perpetuating to graduation while staying declared as a science major.

Gladwell asks his readers to consider two students who have the same SAT scores, grades, and passions entering college. One attends a school where they are towards the top of the incoming freshmen class and the other attends a school where they are in the middle. He then asks us to consider the classes where the student will be competing with other students in the field and how each student will feel when comparing herself to her classmates in the same field. He theorizes that for the student who feels successful in her respective "pool," she will continue to feel successful and perpetuate to graduation; for the student who, with the same credentials, feels unsuccessful in comparison to her peers who are doing better, she will change majors because she feels she cannot be successful in the coursework. This particular example sparked discussion in our group which wandered to the topic of college fit, college choice, and how students preserve intellectual confidence when they are faced with other students from across the nation who are similarly situated in their high schools.

I had the opportunity to hear the audio book read by Malcolm Gladwell himself. If you find yourself on a long car ride or a few long commutes, I highly recommend it!

We invite you all to our next book club meeting, January 5, 2017, at 7:00 pm. We will discuss the book Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz.