Monday, October 24, 2016

The inverted U curve: David and Goliath - Malcolm Gladwell

As a lecturer, I agree with the inverted u curve theory.

Many times we thought that the academic achievements of students get better with the lesser number of students in class.

Well, actually most of the time, it works this way:


I agree that there is an ideal number of how many students should be in a class, varying from one subject to the other.

I once taught just one student for postgraduate class, I have no motivation to come to the class to teach.

For me, 30 to 45 pax is the best crowd for undergraduate and 15 to 20 is just nice for postgraduate students. Like how Gladwell put it, "enough bodies in the room that no one person needs to feel vulnerable but everyone can feel important".

 Apparently, the inverted U curve does not happen only in the size of a class, but also in almost everything that we have seen in our life, including parenting.


For poor parents, it is always hard to tell the kids "No, we can't afford that" as well as it is hard for rich parents to say, "No, we won't be buying that".

"No, we won't be buying that" requires you to know how to articulate the kids and how to make them plausible to your kids.

Then, comes the Big Fish in a Little Pond Theory.

People have always wondered how I suddenly shine like this for both my Master and PhD to where I am now.

Truth is, I have always been slightly above average. I was an advanced reader by the age of 4, I was the best student in my primary school, I always got 100% for my Maths, but then I went to one of the best high schools in Malaysia, where everybody got 100% in Maths as well, so I'm just as ordinary as everyone else in the school. I am the small fish in a big pond back then.

But since not so many people my age, my school doing Master and PhD, suddenly I shine. They thought having PhD in Engineering before I reach 28 makes me a genius.

What they do not know is that my class monitor got his PhD by 27, in Engineering as well.

Here, I am a big fish in a little pond, so I shine.

And do you know that the happiest country have the highest suicide rate? It is not that these people are totally unhappy, but looking at others in their country that are happy all the time make them more miserable.

Also do you know that in CRT test, the students got better answers for difficult questions once they made the questions harder to read (small and terrible fonts) as it requires you to push your brain to use more resources to answer them.

And that what makes autism kids become genius sometimes, as they push their brain to use more; compensation learning they called.

So many more interesting facts, guys.. I rate this 4.5 over 5.


It is easy for me to agree with this concept as it is inline with what Islam taught us, to be moderate.

Too much of something is not enough,
But something coming over me to make me wonder,
Too much of nothing is just as tough,
I need to know the way to feel to keep me satisfied.
--Too Much, Spice Girls, ones I've held onto back when I was a rebellious teenager


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