Critical Review of "The Talent Code: Talent is NOT Born, It's Grown"

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Draft Critical Review:

Coyle, D. (2009). The talent code. New York: Random House Publishing Group (Extract from Chapter 1: The Sweet Spot)


March, 27 2013

English Composition I : Achieving Expertise


In the midst of ‘talent show’ era,  one of the most compelling question, “Where the talents come from?” has influenced Coyle in his book “The Talent Code” shares his expedition in finding the origin of talent that comes from two simple words: deep practice. Using Robert Bjork, the chair of psychology at UCLA arguments, Coyle elaborates the meaning of deep practice which means “struggling in certain targeted ways, operating at the edges of ability, mistakes makes smarter learning experience” (p.18). Coyle also adds arguments that to find the secret of talent source, we should find the sweet spot which become “the bridge of what we know and what we are trying to achieve where learning takes off” (p.19). Coyle suggests several evidences to support his arguments. First, the origin of Brazil soccer player  comes from continuous, consistent, and committed futsal practice. Then, he also argues how the human memory and learning hit to the maximum level where human experience the difficulty, test, and struggle for their talents. After that, Coyle also shows Edwin Link’s pilot training method which claim that talent is not only born, instead, talent is grown with drilled training experience.

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The purposes of Coyle’s arguments are to tell people that deep practice is what matters in talents. He wants to tell people that the talents could be achieved by finding the sweet spots which is the moment when human committed to practice the talents deeply. Then, he wants to encourage people to pursue their own talents by doing a deep practice, learning from mistakes, experiencing struggle, test, and difficulty.


There are three methods that Coyle use to share his arguments. First, Coyle ‘weaves’ his argument with story-telling way that is shown by starting the chapter using his story visiting Moscow, Brazil, Dallas, Carribean, and New York (p.11). He wraps his arguments as someone who tell his own experiences that keep people want to know the end of his story. Second, Coyle’s share his arguments by inviting the readers to interact with his concrete evidences that were shown when he asks the readers to think “How does Brazil produce so many great layers?” (p.16), to practice words memory (p.16), and to think from pilot’s training mistakes (p.21). Third, Coyle also uses exaggerate and compelling words that attract the readers emotion such as “Everest size of talent”(p.11) and “Titanically accomplished” (p.11), and “Great expedition” (p.12).


The context of Daniel Coyle’s arguments comes from the era of positive thinking psychology that focus on self help, improvement, and actualization,. In addition, with the strong interest in sports, Coyle tries to generalize ‘sport’ talents as all super talents that people want to achieve. It was shown by how strong he put the sport examples to support his arguments to attract the reader’s mind.

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The potential uses of his arguments are to inspire and motivate people to work out deep efforts to learn everything in this world consistently, to encourage people who do lots of mistakes evaluate their own mistakes as part of learning process, and to give confidences to everyone to have deeper and more experiences to achieve their talents.  However, Coyle’s arguments have some possible limitations. First, Coyle’s drilling practice that force people to achieve the talents coul
d make people too ambitious to pursue his talents without caring their surroundings. In fact, there are lots of meaningful things to be taken care such as family, environment, social life, and everything that might be not part of talents. Then, Coyle’s argument could not be implemented directly to every aspects of education since it is too focus on skills because, the main goal of education is to shape the students holistically include personal, emotional, social, spiritual life of the students, not only skills.


There are several questions he raises for the readers to interact with the readers. First, he asks several rhetorical questions, “But how?” in the third paragraph (p.12) and “How?” (p.14), “How does brazil produce so many great player?” (p.15). These rhetorical questions draw the reader’s curiosity to think and find the source of talents based on Coyle’s examples. Then, Coyle also challenges the readers to enter his world by answering personal questions to the readers to do words practice, “from which column do you recall more words?” (p.16).


In summary, Coyle have successfully made me not only understand his arguments of finding the sweet spots of the talents, but also analyze, evaluate, and reflect the relevancies of his arguments for my personal life as human being who pursue the excellence of talents.

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