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Klingenstein Center Honors writer Malcolm Gladwell

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Malcolm Gladwell

Author Malcolm Gladwell smiles as Pearl Kane, director of TC's Klingenstein Center, offers him permanent access to Columbia's library system.

TC’s Klingenstein Center for Independent School Education has presented its 2008 Klingenstein Leadership Award to Malcolm Gladwell, writer for The New Yorker magazine and author of the  provocative and best-selling books Blink and The Tipping Point.

Klingenstein Center Chair and Teachers College Professor Pearl Kane presented the award to Gladwell at the annual meeting of the National Association for Independent Schools, held this year in New York City.

“There are so many ways we could praise you, but today, we choose to honor you for what you’ve contributed to the field of education,” Kane said, adding that she has particular regard for Gladwell’s famous observation that “if schools were factories, America would have solved the education problem a century ago.”

“You know and we know that schools are not factories, and we’d like to see your assertion written in puffs of smoke across the sky.”

In Blink, an exploration of human decision-making, Gladwell introduces the concept of “thin-slicing” – the process by which the mind speed-sifts a complex array of variables to arrive at an instantaneous judgment – and applies it to the analysis of situations ranging from dating to the police killing of Amadou Diallo. In The Tipping Point, he traces the process by which small events become trends or “positive epidemics” that permeate the public consciousness.

The Klingenstein Award is given annually to an individual who has influenced the lives of independent school administrators, teachers, parents or students in enduring ways. Past recipients have included the philosopher and Teachers College professor emerita Maxine Greene; education journalist Diane Ravitch; the educators and authors Theodore and Nancy Sizer; and the organizational guru Jim Collins. The honor includes a $2,000 award.

In special recognition of his legendary passion for reading, Gladwell also received a lifetime pass to all libraries affiliated with Columbia University.

Video of Gladwell’s recent chat at TC with Klingenstein Center students will be available for view soon.

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