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.