In what ways does our identity — how we see ourselves as well as how others see us — impact our ability to be su

Throughout the semester we’ve read a number of chapters from Gladwell. This week we added three more voices to the mix– Greenstreet, Coates and Anderson — that look at the benefits, costs and consequences of identity in our lives.

For this paper, you will the following question:

In what ways does our identity — how we see ourselves as well as how others see us — impact our ability to be successful?

The question is so broad that the only successful approach to it for a 5 page essay is to narrow your focus. Your own thesis should draw the perimeters of your discussion. I’ve brainstormed a few examples below:

1). Our families are our first major influence on identity development. Gender and birth order are often the basis of our first experience of discrimination. Parental dream fulfillment has both negative and positive impact.

Sources to examine: Lang Lang and his father

Marita and her mother

Where are Gladwell’s female examples of the 10,000 hour rule? Look at parental examples in those successes.

Research on immigrant parent to child pressure.

2). Our schools are at least our second major outside influence on identity development. Separating the gifted from the not gifted. Rigid role playing within class groups. Even systems that try to be positive can have very negative impacts.

Analysis of KIPP school’s negative potential (militaristic style/ emphasis on math over other discipines,)

Lang Lang’s piano teacher

Myth of meritocracy article (positive)

research: Homogeneous versus heterogenous student grouping;

3). Many of us are subject to identity feedback that limits our sense of what we can accomplish: we are the wrong race, the wrong gender, the wrong weight, the wrong economic status, the wrong general appearance. These “shortcomings” can be internalized to the point that they become how we know ourselves.

This paper’s thesis requires research on how we internalize negative stereotypes.


It would look at the first and third articles in this week’s reading and the KIPP school’s program to put all discriminated against or underserved minorities in a fair meritocracy. And the Asian’s student assumption that she can do the math problem.

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