Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rice Paddies and Outliers

In chapter eight, “Rice Paddies and Math Tests,” Malcolm Gladwell continues to support his claim that cultures can have significant impacts on various levels and aspects of success. He takes an in-depth look into 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 skill intensive processes or time-worn cultural practices are you aware of in our own society that have been especially important for preparing students for high achievement at SIUE? How so?

Or, try this.

You’ll recall the proverbs Gladwell cites that emerged in southern China such as “No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich.” Help us come up with local remixes to that saying. In no more than 10 additional words, compose useful and creation insertions to complete the following sentence: No one who can _________________________________________ a semester fails to achieve high levels of academic success at SIUE.


Anonymous said...

It's often stressed to be on time or at best early to your destination. However few manage to follow this or at least everyone who doesn't follow seems to stand out more than those who do arrive on time or early. This principle proves to be effective on the college campus. When your on time or early on a consistent basis professors may build a perception of you as being a dependable and efficient person, qualities they can respect. More importantly, qualities they may be more likely to help out or encourage throughout your academic career.

For my proverb...No one who can remain passionate about their purpose a semester fails to achieve high levels of academic success at SIUE.

Janssen said...

I agree with the first posted comment. In G.A.M.E it was said that "To be on time is to be 5 minutes early, and your late if your on time." To this day I try to be 5 minutes early to all classes and any other events that require my attendance.

My proverb: No one who can find a balance between social life and academics throughout a semester fails to achieve high levels of academic success at SIUE

Wesley Sloan said...

I think America's culture is constantly changing and evolving so there are really few "time-worn cultural practices." However, one thing that i believe is a cultural practice in our society is the strive toward education. We, or at least I recognize that the smartest and the most knowledgeable have the best chance at being successful in whatever endeavors. We all desire to be successful and the obvious tool to get there is education/school. Though it seems apparent, studying and retaining knowledge is ours, as well as many others' cultural practice. It could also have to do with farming like the rice Paddie farmers in China. American farmers toiled and worked hard for months then relaxed and enjoyed the fruits of their labor. I think our culture has the same idea where if we study and work hard now, we will be be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor; success.

No one who can study and gain tremendous amounts of knowledge a semester fails to achieve high levels of academic success at SIUE.

Robyn Rhone said...

I agree with what the previous bloggers have said. When you show up a few minutes early or on time to anything, thats not only showing respect but also dedication. To me being punctual means that i really want to be there.I as well believe that America's culture is constantly changing. We live in a society that is constantly raising its qualifications or pre-requisites. In this society you have to work REALLY hard to be succuessful, there is always someone who is trying to take your place, so I feel like we always have to be on pins and needles.

My proverb: No one who can prioritize and have good time managing skills a semester fails to acheive high levels of academic success at SIUE.

Unknown said...

A Schneider
I think that Gladwell hit the nail on the head when talking about culture and work ethic. On one hand, I think that anyone can come from any background and socioeconomic community and have this trait. But, I think that if you were raised to work hard and smart that you have a better chance of demonstrating that trait in your adult life. I come from a small farm community where there wasn't a lot of extra money floating around. I learned from my father that it takes hard work, sweat, and sometimes blood to get the job done. Many adults do not know what it is like to make a living doing something that you cannot control the outcome. They have to produce year end and year out and actually make something to get paid. Farmers live by rain and sunshine. Some years (like this one) you can get too much rain or too little. At the end of the day, there isn’t a larger company giving a paycheck to farmers. I have seen my father endure drought and flood alike. Because of this situation, my father would log much longer hours that is usually necessary just to be sure he gave himself the best chance for success. This is something that I try to use in my life. I am not a farmer and I have no intention to farm, but I can take the work ethic and dedication to something larger than myself and use it in whatever field I go into. I was raised to work hard and that is all I have ever seen out of both my parents. I have the knowledge to, it is just a matter of if people like me apply it or are we going to waste these teachings?

Brittney Spiller said...

I believe it depends on who and what part of the population you ask as to what is a "culturistic norm". In America we are such a diverse people with an even more diverse background. I do agree with previours bloggers that punctuality is a huge value and i have to be fifteen minutes early to anywhere I go in order to feel comfortable. Yet, there are still many people I know in my own personal life that do not believe as I. To us time is precious, and if it is not spent in a somewhat valuable way...we consider it time wasted. But what is valuable? And is it really so beneficial to us as a person to be so stressed for time? Time is indeed precious, so why must we waste it constantly running from one big thing to the next in order to feel it was well spent? Just food for thought.

No one who can have belief and desire to gain and use knowledge a semester fails to acheive high levels of academic success at SIUE.

N.L.W. said...

I learned so many new facts in this chapter that would have never crossed my mind. For example, rice being cultivated in China for years and years. I recognized that people from China and Japan eat rice with almost every meal but never thought about where it came from. Or that human manure also known as night soil was used in the process of making rice.
I also never realized how many various methods people in different countries use to count and do mathematics.
I had an idea that students in foreign countries were more advanced than Americans, but through Gladwell's explanation it all makes more sense. The systems that they are taught in help them process things quicker than Americans.

A skill that I feel is most important to have that will help SIUE students succeed is having time management. Students need to be on top things, aware of what they have to do, and when it needs to be done. Waiting to the last minute to do things is never a good idea. But through time management, one can plan out there schedule better and make effective use of the time that they have to get things done. Study more if you can, take a nap if time allows, get involved on campus, and enjoy life. Networking is also another skill to have on SIUE's campus. It's not always about what you may know. Knowing people and connecting with them is always a plus. When networking, you might always meet someone in a field of study that you may be interested in and they may know someone that can help you get to where you need or would like to be. It pays off to talk to people and know what they are about.

No one who can stay focused, attend classes, and do what is asked of them a semester fails to achieve high levels of academic success at SIUE.

Glennda Lyles said...

I agree with Gladwell's proposal. It is very important to teach our youth (as early as possible) the value of hard work and instill strong work ethics. Growing up, my parents always taught me that anything worth having is worth working for. In an increasingly competitive society, it is important to stand out in regards to work ethic whether its our education, the workplace, or social roles. I agree that time management is a much-needed aspect of a college student's work ethic and success. However, it is equally important for college students to be proactive in all that they do. College is more independent and can be more stressful than our previous levels of education. In order to make the process more manageable it is imperative for students to take initiative, take advantage of all resources available (math and writing labs,etc.), and practice strong study habits.

My Proverb
No one who is proactive in their education and implements strong study habits a semester fails to achieve high levels of academic success at SIUE.

Keondra Walker said...

In our society, I feel that we put a big emphasis on getting an education (specifically higher learning). However, I do not believe there is anything that really helps people obtain this education more so than self-motivation.

No one who can utlize all the available resources and put forth true effort a semester fails to achieve high levels of academic success at SIUE.

Katrina Sivels said...

I was raised to be at least 10 minutes early for everything because you never know what could happen to make you late so I understand that and still follow it today.

I found it interesting that chinese math is so much easier. If American math was easier, maybe people would embrace it more. Most people do not like math because of its complications and rules.

The story of the method of rice paddies was interesting as well because I think we lack the motivation and work nowadays. Even thinking about how hard African Americans worked on plantations, they had the strong work ethic and strong morals that we lack today. Hard labor creates diligentes and strength a person inside and out.

Alycia Peebles said...

When readind this chapter, i thought back to my experiences of times i did my school work and not really analyzing it to find logical reasoning of why the answer was the way it came out to be. But what the lady did to find her answer is what i think everyone should do to challenging questions. Also, following the proverb in this chapter,i automatically think of the quote, "the early birds catches the worm." I feel that its highly important to be early than on time. Learning this from my prevous F.A.M.E class, being ealry is on time and being on time is late. No professor nor T.A. appreciates a student walkin inlate for class and interrupting and thing they might be doing, and this doesn't have to just apply to a classroom setting.

My proverb: No one who can remain motivated and press foward, fails to move foward and progress in time.

Unknown said...

Erik Sanders

I feel that one time honored tradition in American society that can help one attain high achievement at SIUE is being assertive and speaking up for yourself. At a young age I was taught to be strong minded and have confidence in myself and my decision making. Those virtues have helped me in all areas of my life, from sports, to work, and most importantly, in education.

It is difficult to attain greatness without being assertive in your journey to earn a degree at SIUE. When participating in group exercises, it is important to make sure your voice is heard so that the group is not dominated by one voice. This is especially important if you feel one person is dragging the group down. Also, one should be assertive when approaching an instructor with a question about a grade or an assignment. If you cannot ask the question in a confident manner then you may not get the answer you were hoping for. Finally, it is vital to be assertive when attempting to get scholarship funds. No one is just going to go around handing you money. I cannot even fathom how many letters, emails, and inquiries I sent out for financial aid. If had not gotten a certain amount of aid, I probably would not have been able to attend this semester, thus rendering any hopes of academic success futile before even getting my feet off of the ground.

In essence, it is important to be assertive and confident whilst in any setting in academia. Not only will you feel better about your situation, but people will notice you for your efforts.

No one who can find confidence in their own self fails to achieve high levels of academic success at SIUE.

tiawanathomas said...

I believe that time management and effective studying pays a very important part in preparing studnets for high achievements at SIUE. Dividing you amungst daily tasks is important in the real world and SIUE prepares you for that. It is also important to study effectively in the amount of time that you expected in order to stay ahead of your studies.

No one who can be initiative about their studies and ask questions about what they do not know a semester fails to achieve high levels of academic success at SIUE.

dominic williams said...

Time management is key in today's society. You will lose your job if you are not on time today. My freshman year in high school, I took ROTC. When we had events, we were suppose to be at least 30 minutes early. If not, we were considered late and not allowed to participate in the event. Then on top of that, we had to write a 3 page paper explaining why we were late due in within 2 days after the event. So punctuality is a key ingredient in my life now. I strive to be at least 15 minutes early for everything I do. I currently work at an insurance agency and for my job interview I arrived 30 minutes early. My boss told me after I was hired, "My early arrival to the interview showed that I wanted the job and was a good first impression." So, in that instance I knew it was key to success.

My proverb-No one who can remember why they are enrolled in school for a semester fails to achieve high levels of academic success at SIUE,

TaNeal Walls said...

I feel as if being on time is acceptable. However, being early is remarkable. Me myself have always prided myself when I'm at least on time for an event. The way I stand out to others is important depending on the circumstance. If the event is souly for my pleasure, my time of arrival will be based on how much I actually want to be there. But if I am going to a professional place, such as work, an interview, or an organization that I represent it is critical to be early. That way I can stand out to be a good candidate for the cause.

No one who strives to stay dedicated and is truly passionate about a set goal a semester fails to acheive high levels of academic success at SIUE.

Joe Hines said...

No one who can gain a new thirst for knowledge and learning a semester fails to achieve high levels of academic success at SIUE.

Lauren Leohner said...

Its hard to pinpoint a cultural practice in American now since there is such a vast diversity in people. However when looking back on work ethic values of my grandfather versus my father I believe a lot has changed. For instance my grandfather has amazing work ethic and always followed procedure. He also pursued a career that he didn't care for so much but did so for the benefit of sustaining the family. He had the mentality of providing for his family. I think my father has similar work ethic but he pursues things that are more interesting and pleasing to him instead of for merely providing.
I feel that my parents haven't pressured me towards a career that was most successful in regards to high income, but they have respected my interests and carefully guided me toward what I wished to do. I think most Americans today are pursuing the dream job, the career that pleases their interests more so than the job that just pays the income.

Clifford Rush III said...

Clifford Rush III,

For one, I like rice! I have heard about the studies showing that Americans are behind when compared to Asian culture due the the differences in background. I have met many exchanges at my community college before arriving here who were excelled at math. 16 year old who takes calculus 2 and thinks its a joke. I didnt find one exchange student who struggled. A friend of mine from Korea also mentioned that their are different schools. The smartest schools, next, next, etc. He was in the middle and his friend was a level lower; neither of them struggled in Calculus 2. This is my support to that claim.

We are constantly reminded of values in our culture. The previous posts say it all. To be on time is late and on time is early. Even for interviews and auditions, you are reminded to show up early. Although if you show up to movies, musicals, plays, these start late at least 75% of the time. We are taught to be late. So we are taught to be early although their are times in our culture that go against this value of ours.

No one who can stand up and be noticed fails to get a useful letter of recommendation

Joe Hines said...

I agree Adam S. in saying that Gladwell makes a very great point in bringing up cultural differences/ work ethic and success. ( I do think they definitely correlate.)

I'm not exactly sure of too many examples of "cultural specific" practices that benefit certain people. Although I've heard personally as well of others who are African American, that because he or she is black, must work harder, be more punctual, etc.

Now open racism and prejudices have ended however their are definitely still subtle and subliminal things that broadcast the idea. Many people know that there are items today that portray a certain image of one ethnic group or another, and because of it, there are many "blacks" in particular that tell their children, family, etc. that they must work harder to be successful.

I've personally had many people tell me because I'm African American I can't afford to do certain things (not because I literally can't but because it wouldn't look good for me being black.) I've heard I shouldn't say certain things, hang with certain people, and behave certain ways because many blacks already have a certain image/ stereotype given to them and there is no need to add to the amount needed to overcome.

Wether or not people agree that racism is still around, that blacks are still discriminated against, or that blacks have more to overcome to be successful is a debate within itself; but that doesn't change the fact that if you are a young black male or female and hear statements like "you've got to be better than the best" will definitely shape your life, grooming you for success.

I personally don't like to bring up the issue of race just because there are so many avenues within speaking of it that can lead to even more awareness of skin color on a daily basis (which should NOT be.) Hearing statements like "you've got even more obstacles to overcome" have an impact on your choices and thus your success.

Chris jones said...

Punctuality and timeliness are stressed in this society. As a previous poster said, in demonstrating that you care enough to be on time, professors may develop a level of respect for you.

No one who can balance their class load and social responsibility whilst staying sane fails to achieve high levels of success at SIUE.