David and Goliath is a biblical story in which Goliath, an intimidating and fierce warrior, is defeated in the battlefield by David, a simple Shepard boy without any experience in the battlefield. This breaks the popular myths about underdogs and misfits. Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath starts with this compelling story and goes on to demonstrate this fact by digging into various popular myths.
Education and Class Sizes: The chapters where the myths about education and class sizes were explored were really interesting to me. The popular myth here being smaller class sizes are more beneficial to the kids whereas research suggests that using the tax payers money to increase teachers salaries would have greater benefits. Then there was the discussion about how a class with very few students actually yields negative results, leading to the inverted U curve for results.
Big fish in a small pond vs small fish in a big pond: It’s better to choose a good program of study from a decent college and finish it as opposed to choosing the same program from an Ivy League College and drop out of the program without finishing it. I see the craze to send their kids to Ivy League colleges among parents all around me. Kids are prepared for this from very early on. Parents enroll their kids in extra math classes, science competitions, etc from early on hoping that they can beat the competition and secure a seat in an Ivy League college. Most parents don’t realize that the drop out rates are very high in such colleges (also suicide rates). They also don’t realize that it is more important to find a curriculum that fits their kids needs in a decent college as opposed to aiming for admission in top notch colleges. This section of the book offered practical examples and research statistics to drive this point home. I particularly liked it because I don’t believe in setting concrete future goals for my kids. As a parent, my goal is to foster a love for learning in them and I am sure they will find their way on their own. This section of the book gave me more concrete evidence that I am on the right path.
Dyslexia: Gladwell argues in the chapters about dyslexia that bring a dyslexic actually builds resilience and courage to make unpopular decisions. Case in point: the owner of IKEA stores. He uses a few other examples of successful people who were diagnosed with dyslexia and how they made up for this deficiency by taking bold/risky/unpopular decisions and making up for this deficiency by really honing up other skills (example: great listening skills).
Excessive use of power has an adverse effect: Gladwell discusses how the British used excessive force in Ireland back in the day to control the Irish rebellion and in the process lost their own credibility with the Irish population in the end. He argues that the popular myth that excessive use of power yields to submission is just that, a myth. He argues that excessive use of power actually produces the adverse affect and causes people to rebel. As a parent, I couldn’t help relate this to parenting also. It’s true that the more we try to force our children to comply to our wishes, the greater their chances of rebelling against us at some point in their lives.
There was an interesting example related to crime and punishment where love and logic were used successfully to curb crime in a community as opposed to harsher punishments (again, made me draw parallels between this and parenting). And another example of how a grieving couple chose not to spend the rest of their lives trying to get their daughter’s killer to justice but found peace in forgiving and letting go. I thought both of these were interesting case studies.
Overall, this was an interesting read. I listened to this book on Audible, narrated by Gladwell himself. I felt like the message got a bit repetitive towards the end but surprisingly it got interesting again in the final chapter when the example of a small French town that provided shelter to Jews during World War II was discussed. I learned a few interesting facts via this book. My rating: 4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️