Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rice Paddies and Outliers

 Haley Scholars Fall 2013 Reading Groups

In chapter eight, “Rice Paddies and Math Tests,” Malcolm Gladwell continues to explore his claim that cultures can have significant impacts on various aspects of success. He takes an in-depth look at the work ethics of farmers in southern China and reveals how rice cultivation can be an intricate, laborious, and, if done well, rewarding process for an entire family. And over long periods of time, the processes and culture of rice cultivation appear to yield benefits to a people well beyond the farms.

According to Gladwell, rice farmers, the majority of whom have limited resources, improved the returns on their labor by “becoming smarter, by being better managers of their own time, and by making better choices.” In other words, more than simply working hard, they worked intelligently and strategically. Gladwell proposes that cultures “shaped by the tradition of wet-rice agriculture and meaningful work” tend to produce students with the fortitude to “sit still long enough” to find solutions to time-consuming and complex math problems, for instance.
 
What did you view as most useful about the topics that Gladwell covered? Why or how so? Please identify the page number for the concept or idea that you cite. 

17 comments:

Alex J said...

Beginning on page 239, Gladwell's example of finding the line's slope was my favorite part of this specific chapter. This concept backed up his other points on how these particular students work so hard and are persistent with their work. When given the answer, most students would settle, accept, and move on, not thinking about it twice. Here, Renee is determined to find the relationship between the numbers to find her slope. Also, I found the differences within mathematics very interesting as well.

sierra lucas said...

The most notable part of this chapter was on page 239. It reinforced his idea that successful people work harder than mot if not everybody. for example, although everybody else just accepted the answer to the slope question and just moved on, Renne would not rest until she found the relationship between the numbers when finding her slop.

Sierra Ewing said...

I like the dissection of the "mechanically" oriented culture versus the "skill" oriented culture. This brings in the difference between using machines and mechanical labor and the use of hard work human labor. The machinery will help get farther and cover more land in a quicker amount of time but the person who works more diligently and cultivates the field himself can appreciate his hard work and become a better manager. I can appreciate this point about the hard work that a person must input to appreciate the outcome. This directly applies to higher education. These ideas are discussed mainly on page 232 and 233.

Deandre Howard said...

I find pages 227 through 230 to be quite interesting; it discusses on the differences in language when related to counting. I never really thought about shorter phrase that could develop into faster counting ability, especially if you can memorize and recount the phrase in a incredibly small amounts of time.

As a tangent, I will note that in contribution to "cultural legacies", adding language to that may be highly irrelevant as communication develops differently in other areas and dialects of those respective languages as well. The definition of "cultural legacy" starts to deviate from history and traditions to purely language structure rather than the development of said language structure. (also counting quickly won't do well in high level mathematics as it is the concepts that matter most.) -DeAndre H.

gabriel said...

On page 246 Gladwell talks about the researcher Schoenfeld and his findings. What makes a good student is how hard the person works at the subject. At one point he says that those that succeeds aren’t necessarily born with “it” but have the ability to work at it. Another benefit of being born in Asian countries their counting system is a lot easier than western countries system. With a better working mentality and an easier numbering system it is evident that they will grow to be better at math and other subjects that include numbers. With that mindset people tend to do better in other subjects. He makes some valid points in this chapter.

Lindsey McCall said...

The most interesting part of this chapter started at page 239. I found it most interesting because I felt as though he was describing me. I love mathematics and I've always been one to question the answers given and look deeper into the problem. This shows that successful people don't just settle, they like to find out things for themselves and figure out why?

Isaiah Blackburn said...

I felt that the one of the most useful points that was mentioned in this chapter was from page 229-30. This is the passage where Gladwell is explaining how the Chinese number system is easier to comprehend than the English one because there are no exceptions. Gladwell explains that this gives Asian children an advantage over Western children because they do not have to learn any exceptions for their number system. This allows them to process a math problem faster because the number sounds like it looks. For example, in the book the mentioned eleven which is loosely translated to be ten-one.

Evan Townzen said...

This whole chapter was interesting the rice paddies being harder to work, math being easier to understand for Chinese children, The difference in western farming compared to eastern farming, finding the slope, and that hard work makes a better student. The most important was section 2 which started on page 227.

America is not known for being good at math and that is more than likely the case because of what he discussed. Students in America get a late start simply because it makes less sense. So maybe this means we should start teaching children to count earlier and maybe we should start teaching fraction as 3 out of 5 parts instead of 3 fifths. I think this may be a very simple conversion that could take math in America a long way simply because most kids hate fractions for a long time.

Andriana C. said...

Pages 228 to 230 were the most interesting to me. We always hear how children in certain Asian countries do exceptionally better than those in Western countries in math and science, but this was never fully explained to me. From this section, I can see how it could be seen as true. The simplified number system can lead to an easier time solving math equations.

Rodrick Robins said...

To me, the most valuable part of the chapter on rice cultivation and it's affects on math and general student quality was the part about hard work, and the TIMSS test (pages 247-248.I found it very interesting and logical that students who took the time to fill out the whole of the survey also did well on the math portion of the test. To me, this passage holds a part of the thesis of the chapter: that hard work and diligence are the reasons why the Southern Chinese succeed in the classroom, not because their math skills are innate.

Trion Taylor said...

The most interesting topic he covered was why Asian countries do much better than their Western counterparts in math on pages 228-230. Its such a baffling concept that because there language is not as drawn out as ours, they are able to learn and memorize things better.
Also I find that this concept, in a way, fits in with the idea of accumulative advantage. These kids get an initial advantage simply because of the region they are born in, and this small advantage transcends into the major advantage they have today.

Joi M. said...

On 239 I found that Renne's hard work was the most important concept. His concept that those who excel work hard relates to my life. I find this interesting because at an University students enter at different levels and come from different walks of life. Knowing that I can be just as good as anyone through hard work is comforting.

Alexandra Donaldson said...

My favorite part of this chapter starts on page 239 where Gladwell discusses finding the slope of a line. It really stuck out to me because math is my favorite subject and I'm always trying to find the reason behind the answer to the math problem. Also, the study shows the lack of determination and willingness to give up without exploring all options of today's youth. In order to be successful you must dive deeper into the answers given to you whether than just accepting them.
Alex D.

Shervonti Norman said...

My favorite part of the chapter was the quote on page 238. "No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich." The quote was strong to me considering I have had a few internal battles with some of my courses I'm enrolled in. It made me realize that if I'm not working hard enough at it, then I won't succeed it.

Like mostly everyone else, I also really enjoyed the part with Renee. I admired how she wasn't going to give up until she figured out the problem she was working with.

Anonymous said...

Mercedes Henry
The part that left me thinking was on page 239 when he talked about putting in the amount of work that gets the job done. I am a very hard working person and when i find something i really enjoy, I do it as much as I can. It really felt as though the text related to me. How can you become better at something if you do not go all the way and do not practice it? Will you become better if there isn't someone better who you want to beat?

Anonymous said...

i like everything on page 69. 69 is sexy number ;)

Maria Piggy said...

I like the dissection of the "mechanically" oriented culture versus the "skill" oriented culture. This brings in the difference between using machines and mechanical labor and the use of hard work human labor. The machinery will help get farther and cover more land in a quicker amount of time but the person who works more diligently and cultivates the field himself can appreciate his hard work and become a better manager. I can appreciate this point about the hard work that a person must input to appreciate the outcome. This directly applies to higher education. These ideas are discussed mainly on page 232 and 233.