In Chapter 4 "The Trouble with Geniuses, Part 2" of Outliers, what is the difference between "concerted cultivation" and "accomplishment of natural growth?"

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The difference between these two things is the difference between having structured opportunities of various sorts and being allowed to simply do your own thing in your own way.  The former is the way that middle and upper class children tend to grow up while the latter is what kids from lower class backgrounds tend to experience.

In Chapter 4 of Outliers, Gladwell describes research done by a sociologist named Annette Lareau.  Lareau studied third graders of various socioeconomic statuses.  She found that the parents of the middle and upper class children were very involved in their lives.  They signed them up for activities and brought them to those activities.  They asked about their children’s lives.  They stood up for their children when they felt that their children needed help in school.  In short, they were engaging in “concerted cultivation.”  They were making an organized (or concerted) effort to help to nurture (or cultivate) their children’s interests and abilities.  They were not simply leaving things up to the kids.  By contrast, the poorer parents were not at all involved in what their kids were doing.  To them, what the children did was not really part of their world.  Lareau tells of a girl who was involved in an after-school choir but who signed herself up and who walked to the practices on her own.  Her mother showed little interest in what she was doing.  These poorer parents are engaging in behaviors that allow their children to experience “accomplishment of natural growth.”  These children are developing their talents in a more “natural” way that is not done through organized activities that are coordinated by their parents.

This is the difference between the two things that you mention.  One is a middle class style of parenting that is very involved in purposely developing children’s talents.  The other is a lower class style of parenting where the children are left to develop on their own without much parental involvement. 

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