The 10,000 Hours Rule Doesn’t Actually Work: The Tabula Rasa Fallacy
IT’S a common enough idea, that you need to practice at something for 10,000 hours to actually be any good at it. And that might well be true, too. However, the idea does sometimes (ie, in almost all of he UK education system) get mixed up with the idea that if you do 10,000 hours practice then you will be good at something. And that just ain’t true.
The idea that all children can be anything they want to be has deep roots in the UK educational system. If only people were educated in just the right manner then anyone at all could become a doctor, a pilot, a politician. Looking around of course that last has happened bu the other two not so much. And we’re constantly told that it really is only inherited privilege that stops everyone from having prices. This is known as the “tabula rasa” argument and it’s complete bollocks of course.
Quite apart from anything else if skills, aptitudes and intelligence were not inheritable then we’d have a hell of a time explaining how evolution happened.
But back to our 10,000 hours argument. That much practice is a necessary condition for being really good at something but not a sufficient one:
More than 20 years ago, researchers proposed that individual differences in performance in such domains as music, sports, and games largely reflect individual differences in amount of deliberate practice, which was defined as engagement in structured activities created specifically to improve performance in a domain. This view is a frequent topic of popular science writing–but is it supported by empirical evidence? To answer this question, we conducted a meta-analysis covering all major domains in which deliberate practice has been investigated. We found that deliberate practice explained 26% of the variance in performance for games, 21% for music, 18% for sports, 4% for education, and less than 1% for professions. We conclude that deliberate practice is important, but not as important as has been argued.
It is necessary to have the initial talent, the aptitude, as well as the practice. It just isn’t true that every unique little snowflake can be whatever they want to be.