1st assignment English Composition I {Coursera / Duke University}: Achieving expertice (draft of a critical analysis)

Critical review of the “The Sweet Spot” by Daniel Coyle.

As part of his “The talent Code” Coyle delves in the matter of talent and its components in his initial chapter of the book. The findings are a result of the writer’s copious research along nine so called “talent hotbeds” or as a friend more colloquially suggested “chicken-wire Harvards” [11].

Along with the brief descriptions of his endeavor that took him on what his daughter compares to an alternative “treasure hunt” [12], readers of his work actually come to realize that perhaps the term “talent” is highly overrated; perhaps it does exist in terms of a being prone to a grandeur in certain fields – mainly athletic – but it should be more properly substituted by the term “deep practice”. For Coyle it’s nothing more really than “practice makes perfect” motto reinvented. In page 18 Coyle defines this as a paradox since”… experiences where you’re forced to slow down, make errors, and correct them—as you would if you were walking up an ice-covered hill, slipping and stumbling as you go—end up making you swift and graceful without your realizing it.” Indeed it seems quite reasonable to the author and the audience as well, that through constant effort we redeem ourselves through our mistakes; we actually become better at what we are trying to do by doing it wrong at first – it is in the human nature to strive for perfection amidst fallacy.

In order to back his assumptions Coyle makes use of the scientific world as well as that of empirical data. Professor Bjork, chair of psychology in the prestigious UCLA, provides the very definition of the chapter’s title: “”It’s all about finding the sweet spot,” Bjork said. “There’s an optimal gap between what you know and what you’re trying to do.  When you find that sweet spot, learning takes off.” [19] In other words it takes really more than just  use one’s time and strength; one needs to be able to do that efficiently. However, Coyle uses more practical sightings of his ideas and to do so he implements a worldwide beloved sport: Brazilian football and the “supernatural skills” [24] of Brazilian football players. Coyle’s readers actually discover that unlike Maradona and his infamous hand, skills of the sort do not necessarily come as God’s gift. Moreover they are the result of another game, which happens to be quicker and more demanding, yet lesser in scale. “Futsal” left  Mr. Clifford  – a coach from the other bank of the Atlantic – in awe of its potential implementation. He concurs : “It was clear to me that this was where Brazilian skills were born […]It was like finding the missing link.” [26]

Baring witness to the Brazilian wonder, Clifford successfully paved the way to young Englishmen, following the example of their Brazilian comrades. They began practicing futsal “developing a soccer program for elementary and high-school-age kids that he called the Brazilian Soccer School. He constructed an elaborate series of drills based on futsal moves.”[28]. Laughable at first yet it actually worked providing Coyle with ample evidence, that he is on to something. These junior stars later defeated their Scottish peers and even took noted posts on their national team. “More stars, Clifford says, are on the way.”[29]

To sum up, Coyle’s ideas seem refreshing, yet are we to dismiss gifted people all too easy?

Works cited:

Coyle, Daniel: “The talent code”. New York. 2009.