The value of uncertainty and tomato sauce


Malcolm Gladwell’s wonderful talk and article on Tomato Sauce. Using this lesson from¬† Howard Moscovitz, Gladwell shows how the world of Tomato Sauce market research teaches us to move away from the search for universals to the understanding of variability in the world – when we pursue universals in food we do ourselves a massive disservice, and so, he suggests, in life.¬† How much more is it true of education. Educators often debate, like big endians and little endians over whether we should use phonics or real books for teaching reading and whether history should be narrative or source based. I wonder whether adhering strictly to one of those methods gives learners the best service. Particularly when opinion is so divided that there is little chance of them experiencing the other side of the coin.

In Moscovitz’s case, he was successful because his tomato sauce tasting experiment led him to believe that there are many ways to be valid. He didn’t try to change people to fit them into one perfect box, he catered for differences. He sold more than one kind of tomato sauce.