Jan Sramek and Racing Towards Excellence

We’ve been having some very interesting meetings with the team from Racing Towards Excellence. They seem to share some of our concerns about the provision for quality, impartial careers advice in schools today.

For the purposes of this post, I wanted to quote a bit from Jan Sramek (the co-author’s) introduction to the book – in which he discusses his own education. Those with especially good memories might remember the small ripples of controversy caused by his astonishing A-level results: 10 A’s.

To Jan:

What was remarkable during those formative years of my life was my parents’ ability to create an inspiring environment where outperformance was natural, rather than expected. The pressure was non-existent, replaced by an almost implicit understanding that I would go on to do great things…

…My parents’ thinking on parenting and education [were] progressive for the time and place [the Czech Republic]..My chores as a child were very light to non-existent, as was any intervention from either of them into how I spent my free time. This allowed me to spend much of it studying what I wanted to study, rather than what others thought I should study.

The idea of naturalizing a habit of mind resonates very much with comments I’ve heard from Matthew Taylor about this. There is obviously cross-over with Outliers too on the role of upbringing for future “outperformance” status, even if Jan’s 10,000 hours remains in doubt.