Spare Parts

by Joshua Davis

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What is the author's claim in Spare Parts?

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As he follows four high school boys who made an award-winning robot, Justin Davis shows how a combination of personal, educational, and social factors combined to place the boys on a highly productive and cooperative team. One main point that Davis raises is that an elite education and vast resources are not necessary for people to produce innovative technology.

There are many cautionary elements in his narrative, however; these cautions also form a larger part of his central message. Davis clearly shows that there is no single right path or educational approach that could guarantee success: one size does not fit all. The boys themselves proved highly dedicated and disciplined to their robot project, but they also initially worked toward relatively modest goals. In addition to their own efforts, both individually and as a team, the boys benefited from being mentored by two exceptionally gifted teachers.

These and other factors combined into a “perfect storm” that supported the boys’ efforts and allowed them to succeed. Even if one piece of the puzzle had been missing, Davis suggests, the outcome could have been vastly different. Further, their success in high school would not guarantee sustained future success for all of them because of their varied family and social circumstances.

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