Lanier's Reviews > The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
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's review
Jan 29, 2011

it was amazing
Recommended for: Business kids, Educators, Law Enforcement, Scientists, Aspiring Actors, Writers, and you
Read from January 26 to February 13, 2011

Amazing read! Gladwell has possible attack points for curbing teen smoking, understanding terrible epidemics in teen suicide, school shootings and other craziness happening in today's modern "civilized" worlds. Technology may have made life easier, however, it's also creating detached and disassociated generations that not only exacerbate negative epidemics instead of re-enforcing positive ones.

Sad, but true.

page 145
Once again Gladwell has turned relatively complex ideas into accessible concepts that are well presented in easy-to-read nuggets.

Basically he's looking at how very small things have extremely dramatic powers that create "epidemics" with fashion, crime, business and even with educating pre-schoolers. Perhaps my favorite part, which I just finished reading, is how "Blue's Clues" took the very best of "Sesame Street", tweaked, researched and pushed the envelope, developing something that defied icon Piaget's child development theories and turned them upside down. This section dealing with the "Stickiness" of ideas, messages, people (charisma) and others is fascinating. "Stickiness" is the degree to which certain things we see and hear STICK with us for decades. Nike's "Just Do It" is one that comes to mind or for those over 35, "Plop, plop. Fizz, fizz. Oh, whatta relief it is!" For those who don't understand this reference, Google it. As non-commercial as I am, I've never bought any of those products.

But I've just come upon the facets that turned NYC's mid-1980s crime epidemic into one of the safest cities in the country in rapid 180-turn-around fashion!

Again, like "Blink", Gladwell's focusing upon the small things that people within the MTA---THAT'S RIGHT, you read correctly---THE MTA's "Broken Window" syndrome which attacked the smallest common denominators; fare jumpers and graffiti in order to "send a message" that the prior decade of worsening Wild West anything-goes attitudes were a thing of the past. In other words, in cracking down on the smallest violators, which actually cost the MTA 100s of thousands of dollars yearly, they chipped away at the problem two-fold. Saving money, which in turn was used to improve services and re-enforce security, which forced more serious criminals to think twice or face very real consequences.

These simple measures have very Real Time implications. In a recent mini-lesson bridging the bold outspoken Transcendentalists; Whitman, Thoreau and Emerson, with my very informal spiel on "The Price of Non-Conformity", I was trying to instill in my scholars how everything we do outside the fold has consequences. Often something as small as disregarding an established Uniform Policy begins a snowball effect that leads to further forms of escalating disrespect. These minor infractions later roll into seemingly slightly larger events which, in turn, quite unexpected led to curricula changes. While education is not a business, yet, [unless Cathie Black, the "born saleswoman" has her way] young people often miss that conforming: unifying to remain safer, establishing a sense of acceptance; a safe environment conducive to cognitive development is part of nearly every positive educational community. I told them about how much I was like some of my former students, who are currently struggling their Senior year. I was the quintessential "Non-Conformist". I was such the badass, I got KICKED out of my first Uni. Hooooray ME! I really showed them, flushing six scholarships and becoming the only one in my family WITHOUT a college degree.

Did I tell them a few pieces of paper from Queens College don't really mean anything. No, not if one is unable to actually apply what those scraps of paper represent, those symbols of conformity carry even less clout.

What I told them, after passing around my two passports and coins from Cuba, Vietnam, Colombia, Peru and China, was that I've learned far more from traveling than I ever have from any institution. After all, Higher Educational institutions are businesses after all. And, while I've learned a plethora of invaluable lessons and have applied most of them in everyday teaching moments, I've learned more in my travels about SELF and the WORLD and how we all fit together in this very small fascinating community we call Earth.

Another reason to rebel?

Perhaps, but the only way I was able to fully access and learn all I have from those peregrinations was from the basics learned growing up. Funny how those recessed irregular Spanish verbs suddenly became available shortly after landing in Quito. All those Journalism classes I actually passed my first time around in URI, affectionately and euphemistically known as UR-Hi, helped me navigate that equatorial city's mountainous terrain interviewing people, exposing scams, informing and entertaining for one American newspaper and a two local tourist magazines.

Epidemics start with a few small incidences, a few highly connected people who have a knack for being at the right place at the right time, being followed, being heard, spreading the message. Gladwell, again has tapped into some very valuable observations; well-documented and researched, awesomely presented and I look forward to finishing so I can begin to take some more of these invaluable lessons and re-adjust how I live to be more effective with those I have the fortune to come in contact with every single day.

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