“MOM, watch me, I am doing the impossible”

 “Let´s hit the sweet spot away, candy tonight… I am ready to go…”
Flo Rida “The Sweet Spot” featuring Jennifer Lopez

For many the daunting need to understand and work with talent is present every day. The kindergarten teachers who look at the eyes of children in their care groups, and see the amazing future ahead but are unable to support their individual learning needs, because for twenty four children in the group there is just one adult working with them. The parents who have to take their children to daycare starting as early as possible for their bosses do not except long maternity leaves and the house loan needs to be paid every month. If give just few examples that are everyday realities for people all over the globe.

Daniel Coyle introduces us in his book “The Talent Code” his perspective on talent, a perspective of a white successful Western male. He makes a trip to Brazil, Russia and to different locations in US in order to visit some special schools for young talented people and see what happens there, how they learn. He interviews experts like Robert Björk at UCLA[1], gives us glimpse of Henry Roedinger´s work [2]. Unfortunately we do not get any further references to the research done by these men.

In the first chapter we will meet two hands on guys Edwin Link[3]  and Simon Clifford[4]. Both of the practice based people are also presenting us a beautiful example of a typical American success story.[5] Can it get any more boring? Yes.

One of the first things Coyle does is to share a picture of his perfect small family probably living in some suburb in a big university city.

“My daddy is a treasure hunter!”

Isn´t that sweet! He is a good man, we think. Or perhaps things are not as innocent as they look like?

Seems as if in Coyle´s life every day is like a birthday, he himself calls his ethnographic field trips to these various places in the world as “GREAT EXPEDITIONS”. It used to be the Europeans who were discovering the world in medieval times with the weapons in their hands, now it is men like Coyle with the words instead of swords. He loves the images of great old times, using also the picture of a gracious deer running on hills in various occasions. Almost poetic in a way but isn´t that the symbol of old aristocracy in England, the ones who used to rule all the people and made them feel miserable?

This is a story of a white man hunting and conquering the world. Will history repeat itself and many get hurt? I am afraid so. Actually, how many times did Coyle repeat the idea of “Brazil PRODUCING his TALENT” (starting p.14)? Critical examining of his notes from the field trips presented in the book makes it clear that actually he has no respect for the country. At some point he is even making cold hearted and impropriate jokes about the 40% of population being “desperately poor” (p.15). On top of it he names one of his subsections “Brazil`s secret weapon” as if being in war with the country.

Coyle loves black and white, big and small, rich and poor division. Due to the overly simplified and dualistic worldview interesting word combinations like “Everest-size amount of talent” (p.11), “places so small, humble and titanically accomplished” (p.11) are caching the special attention of a careful reader.

Coyle is doing several classical tricks with words but giving us quite little to think about when it comes to the actual topic of his book what is talent and how it can grow. He admits that in his travels he expected to “witness world class SPEED, POWER and GRACE” (p.12) and ads that he has even found it! What was he looking for after all? Was it a red Porche or people working with their talents?


What a way to present your findings!  I am not convinced, Coyle, you need some deep practice with your academic writing as well as your ability to really depict what is happening out there with people and their talents.



Coyle, D. (?). The Talent Code. Greatness isn´t born. It´s grown. Here is how.

Flo Rida and Lopez, J. “The Sweet Spot”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuD0JZVdW0A music video [29.03.2013]

Vonnegut, K. “Shapes of the Stories” Lecture in youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP3c1h8v2ZQ [29.03.2013]  


[1] It remains unclear throughout the chapter what kind of institution is the author referring to.

[2] Doyle is unclear about his secondary as well as primary sources of knowledge all the way through the chapter. It is also not clear what kind of research methods he has been using.

[3] Through the historical viewpoint Coyle aims to show (using unknown historical evidence) that his claims about talent have been verified long time ago. Link developed a successful training system for US air forces during the II WW.

[4] Clifford has been probably interviewed by Doyle but it is not clearly stated. Clifford introduced a special kind of Brazilian football in US that has made some teams succeed.

[5] Look at a short online video lecture by Kurt Vonnegut about how it is done and why people love it “The shapes of stories”.


Me, a writer?

I like silence.

Sometimes I cannot stay silent and have to talk. The words are making their way through me. Thoughts rush to become words, to become a real thing in time and space.

I come from a country that is totally unknown. There are just few of us being able to understand each other in our own secret language, Estonian. I love to write in Estonian. It is like a holiday or a cure when I am not feeling well. Eesti keeles kirjutamine on otsekui puhkus.

Often I am forced to use some other languages to make way for the thoughts or ideas that want to be born in the big world. This is hard, much harder. I look at the words that are floating around me and wonder what they are really bringing. Was this actually what was about to happen or just an outcome of my dis-ability?

English is much more like playing than being for real. I am like a child learning the tricks of a new instrument or skill. Blogging is a safe route for me. It is not too serious, not too demanding for a beginner. It is a bit like a computer game. In blogosphere everything is allowed. You are not even expected to be correct with your grammar. It is a space of endless experimenting and freedom with words.

Every communication process has to start from within and grow to be met by the others. If it creates something new it is like a miracle. Sometimes miracles do happen. Knowing that keeps me going.

I like silence. To put the thoughts to the paper or on the webpage leaves the silence untouched.

Via texts I can talk to you in silence. We can meet.

First assignment for academic writing classes at MOOC, created by Denise Comer, English Composition I Professor at Duke University.