Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thursday Thinking – Expert Level

I listened to a presentation that gamers (as in video gamers) could be the world’s next secret weapon in problem-solving so we should encourage more gaming.  The presenter sited Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that we become experts after 10,000 hours of concentrated practice and that most gamers easily have that by the time they finish high school.  The presenter has a PhD in gaming and argues that 1) few people have the concentration and commitment that serious gamers have – they can suspend basic human needs and desires in order to perfect their craft; and, 2) gamers also have an all-pervasive optimism that they are on the cusp of conquering and this confidence could be helpful in solving complex social issues.  Truly.  This woman seems to believe her argument (at least her enthusiasm and conviction is measurable) that more gamers, and more games for more gamers, will solve our problems. 

As I ironed away listening to her, I concluded that she was simply a persuasive salesman selling . . . addiction.  Anybody that is addicted to anything, be it substance or behavior, suspends basic human needs and desires while staying extremely focused on the substance or behavior; but that is hardly the definition of a leading problem-solver. 

But her comments made me wonder what I have spent my blocks of 10,000 hours doing, and where my expertise lies.  Do I even want to own up to what I’ve done with my blocks of 10,000 hours?  It’s easy enough to scoff at others' hours spent out-jumping dragons and falling down tubes of underworld pipes, but I wondered what have I to show for my time.

I’ve been alive 420,459.013 hours.  That’s 42 blocks of time. I’m not ashamed of the time spent cooking and washing dishes, clothes, faces, and floors.  I’m grateful to have been able to log lots of hours in mothering and wifing.  I wouldn't mind accounting for most of my reading hours.  And sleep . . . well, everybody’s got those.  But the rest of my blocks.  What about those?  And perhaps more importantly, what am I going to do from here on out with my 10,000 hour blocks of time?  I could have another 30 or so.  In what do I want to become an expert?


michelle said...

I do love your Thursday Thinking. I had heard the 10,000 hours tidbit and wondered about that as well. My initial thought was that I haven't spent 10,000 hours doing anything, but I guess I'll have to re-evaluate that.

A Ph.D. in gaming??! What institution grants that degree?

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

I think it was Berkley, Michelle. Don't quote me though. I don't want to spend the time listening to her again to find out for sure =)

Barb said...

Your new banner sure is pretty! I heard the 10,000 hours thing related to Mozart and how it was possible that he had that many hours in on the piano before he was 10 years old. Didn't that poor boy sleep?

Amy said...

Wow. Thanks for making ME think!

Lucy said...

My sister-in-law posted about this idea as well, but her thoughts came from reading Outliers from Malcolm Gladwell about how those people who really do excel at things spend 10s of thousands of hours doing those things. She gave the example that General Authorities and apostles probably spend that kind of time studying the gospel, which makes them...well...experts and how she'd like to follow their example (vs. becoming an amazing runner or biologist or piano player).

I wish I were the ambitious sort, who wanted to be an expert in anything. I don't have that drive though. I'm afraid the hours, which we all spend doing something, won't have that kind of focus. But, I'm hoping to still turn out. :)

Susan said...

I agree with Lucy. I just don't have that kind of drive, but I do like knowing something about everything. So I guess I'll just do a little here and a little there, hoping to get some expertise in being mediocre. :)

Becky said...

What wonderful thoughts! I cringe to think of 10,000 hours spent gaming which translates in my mind to hours avoiding real human contact.

I would love to become an expert in teaching and learning....I can't imagine many things that would be better than sharing and receiving all different kinds of knowledge.

What an intriguing post, Jane!