Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rice Paddies and Outliers - Chapter 8

[Outliers Reading Group]

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.

11 comments:

Mikaela Suggs said...

On page 238, several quotes from penniless peasants were given and the one that struck me most was, "No food without blood and sweat". While back in those times this quote applied to working people, this can easily be compared to students. To earn the grades, recognition, program acceptance, etc., you have to give it all you've got.

Jasmine Williams said...

I think the most useful concept is given from the quote on page 238 that states, "In winter, the lazy man freezes to death." To me, this means that you don't just get what you want; everything in life requires some sort of effort. Those that don't apply effort won't ever succeed or accomplish anything.

Jaleelah Muhammad said...

The most striking "advice" to me was "No one who can rise before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich" on page 238. Now I know my limits, I can barely get up for class every day so I know that waking up before dawn would be difficult. That's true dedication.

Tashawna Nash said...

One of the things that I found to be most useful was one of the quotes from the penniless peasants on page 238. The quote says, "Don't depend on heaven for food, but on your own two hands carrying the load." I feel like this is the most useful in the way that you can interpret the meaning behind it. This quote can apply to any aspect of your life all you have to do is change the words. The quote basically is saying that you cannot depend on something or someone to do something or provide for you and you need to be able to do it yourself; so to me this quote is basically telling you take responsibility for yourself and your actions which is what I have learned to do since coming to college.
~Tashawna N.

Tayla Myles said...

The concept I found to be most useful was "Don't depend on heaven for food, but on your own two hands carrying the load," from page 238. This is kind of like saying don't just wait for things to happen but actually get out there and make them happen on your own. Pretty much just do it yourself.

Terri McFadden said...

I found the example starting on page 227 most interesting because it showed that something as simple as your dialect can make a difference in how you learn. The Chinese dialect is much faster and from there pronunciation videos alone is noticeable.This was the most relateable to me because in high school the speed was the biggest barrier I can see this can help chinese speakers have quick processing.

Kelsey Walker said...

I think the author has a point in this chapter. I think ultimately most people are going to get out of life, whatever they decide to put in. It is kind of a culture thing but not really. I kind of confused myself thinking about this but for a culture that works hard all the time it makes sense to work their hardest in every aspect of life, not just rice paddies. On page 246, "But to Schoenfeld , it's not so much as ability but attitude. You master mathematics if you are willing to try." I think that is true most of the time. It's like... you can do anything if you set your mind to it. Or believe to achieve.

Anonymous said...

One of the things that I found o be most useful was a quote on page 237. The quote said "the thing about wet-rice farming is, not only do you need phenomenal amounts of labor, but it's very exacting...There's a big difference between lining up the seedlings at exactly the right distance and doing it sloppily". I think this quote is saying that you not only need to perform the task, but you need to also put forth your best effort while doing so. This quote can be applied to anything in life, whether it be wet-rice farming or writing your next English paper.
***Brittany P

Tracee Williams said...

The quote "Don't depend on heaven for food, but on your own two hands carrying the load," from page 238 is something I hold to with pride. It reminds me of the scripture in the bible " a man that doesn't work doesn't eat". I have lived life learning that if you want something done, don't depend on others or what people expect from you, but make your own goals and reach them with your own strength and will to achieve that goal.

YaqKeha Witherspoon said...

The most useful concept to me was given in a quote on page 238, it states "No food without blood and sweat." This is the most useful because this concept can be applied to any aspect of life. You only get rewarded for hard work, and effort.

Tiera Williams said...

The topic that I found most useful is the concept of attitude over ability. The reason this topic was most useful to me is because I'm having trouble in my Chemistry class currently. The trouble is not due to the content, but due to my unwillingness to take the time to apply myself.
On page 246 Gladwell says,"Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds." I agree and know that's the type of time I'l have to commit if I want to be successful. Attitude over ability will be what gets me through a lot of things now.