“A JAMAICAN STORY.” Last Thanksgiving, I posted here to give thanks to all those who went before and made it possible to have the lives we have today. In the moving last chapter of OUTLIERS, entitled “A Jamaican Story”, Malcolm Gladwell tells about the string of incidents which led to his Jamaican mother getting a college education. He summarizes: “Joyce Gladwell owes her college education first to W. M. MacMillan, and then to the student at Saint Hilda’s who gave up her scholarship, and then to Mr. Chance, and then, most of all, to Daisy Nation.” W.M. MacMillan was an historian who wrote an influential book in the thirties urging better educational opportunities for poor Jamaicans. The student at Saint Hilda’s had won two scholarships and surrendered one. There was a prize scholarship available for university education. It was awarded to a girl in alternate years. Gladwell’s mother was eligible in the year when a girl could win, but her twin sister won the scholarship. Mr. Chance was the Chinese shopkeeper in the neighboring village who lent Joyce Gladwell”s mother (Daisy Nation) the enormous sum to permit both twins to go to university. And those are some of the circumstances that enable us to read Malcolm Gladwell’s wonderful books.

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One Response to “A JAMAICAN STORY.”

  1. Mary Jane Schaefer says:

    All of Gladwell’s books bear rereading. I think I should make the time to do it. From what I remember of “The Tipping Point” and “Blink,” the analysis is very good but I can’t think, off hand, of any way the insights might make us live smarter and more productively. I know, I probably read too fast, didn’t take notes, didn’t digest. But this third book about outliers is making an argument to the world at large about providing wider opportunities so that more people may be allowed to develop their true potentials. It also says, to me, not to be too hard on yourself if you didn’t achieve what you’d hoped to in life, because there is a certain amount of luck that anyone needs to get in a position to really develop to the full. I particularly feel sorry for the generation of young Americans who are urged to believe that if you BELIEVE enough, DREAM enough, things you want will come true. Talk about a generation doomed to be disillusioned. At least Gladwell is frank enough to say that you have to get LUCKY, and in the meanwhile, you have to WORK HARD!

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