Rice Paddies and Math Test as well as Maritas Bargain
It is common sense to motivate and inspire oneself to provide the best work after completing a college degree. When a person embraces challenges that come with work and effort, that person engages in meaningful work, which is the key concept described by Malcolm Gladwell in both Rice Paddies and Math Test and Maritas Bargain. In both narratives, Gladwell explains the process of meaningful work, including the hard work involved and the realization of desired outcomes. The narratives further demonstrate how cultural legacy influences the perception of work in American and Asian societies. Lastly, Gladwell shows how cultural legacy is connected to the education outcomes of Asian and American societies. Meaningful work is a key concept that helps understand Gladwells main point concerning education in both narratives because it explains the activities founded on culture that entail meaningful work, how the cultural legacy impacts the conceptualization of work, and how this conceptualization of work in different societies impacts education.
In both narratives, Gladwell explains the effort needed for meaningful work. In Rice Paddies and Math Test, Gladwell uses the rice fields of Chinese to demonstrate meaningful work that leads to optimum outcomes. Gladwell expands on rice farming, a central part of China’s cultural legacy, as an example of meaningful work. Gladwell explains the building process of rice paddy fields, showing the demanding, exacting, and complicated nature of the process. He further describes rice farming as a process of perfection and sustained vigilance. The process of rice farming explained by Gladwell shows that creating and maintaining a rice paddy field is tedious and hectic (Gladwell 225). The author also posits that an Asian rice worker works on the farm for approximately three thousand hours and has minimal breaks. From the Asian point of view, the harder a farmer works, the more rice that farmer will produce. The Chinese, for instance, depend on rice for survival, and meaningful work influences the production of rice sufficient for one’s survival. Meaningful work described by Gladwell, based on planting rice, encompasses challenging work that yields desired outcomes. In Maritas Bargain, Gladwell explains America’s differing work culture derived from the regions past agricultural practices where fields were left fallow for long periods to boost the lands fertility. The approach by America towards agriculture created a notion of work that alternates patterns of rest when the farm is left dormant with periods of activity. The criticism of America’s approach to work accompanied by rest in Maritas Bargain sheds light on Gladwell’s view of meaningful work culture. Gladwell finds work accompanied by rest unnecessary and less productive when compared to the concept of work derived from Asian rice paddy fields. The notion of work in America goes against Gladwells conception of the tenets of meaningful work that include working hard with precision for long hours, leading to mastery and the realization of one’s goals (Gladwell 102). A comparison of the two narratives by Malcolm Gladwell reiterate the authors view suggesting that meaningful work is precise, constant engagement in tedious, complex, and demanding work that leads to the desired outcomes.
In both narratives, cultural legacy shapes the conceptualization of work for the respective communities. Planting rice is a cultural legacy for the Chinese and Asian communities. In Rice Paddies and Math Test, Gladwell explains the rigorous creation of rice paddies and maintaining them. He describes the rice growing process as meaningful work that yields results. In China, the community links rice growth, which is key for survival, with the concept of meaningful work. Their culture of rice consumption shapes the Chinese conceptualization of meaningful work. The conceptualization of work informed by the cultural legacy of rice farming is mirrored in other fields, including education, as learners develop the ability to complete long, tedious math problems or exercises with relative ease compared to other groups. In Maritas Bargain, Gladwell explains the historical American agricultural system where work on the farming fields is interchanged with long breaks to allow the land to revitalize and improve fertility. The system influenced the view of rest as an important part of work that allows the body or systems to revitalize, leading to better productivity. The American notion of work is evidenced by the long summer vacations between school terms, the lower number of classroom days a year compared to Asian schools, keenness on the work-life balance in organizations, and fewer working hours among America’s workforce.
In both narratives, Gladwell shows that culture impacts education outcomes. In Rice Paddies Math Test, the rice-growing culture of the Asians is associated with the built-in advantages of the group when solving math problems. According to Gladwell, the regular nature of math governed by simple rules without exception mirrors the precision, concentration, and tediousness required when producing rice in rice paddy fields. Gladwell observes that Chinese children can count to forty approximately two years earlier than their American counterparts because of the rules governing their language and rice farming. The rules governing the cultural legacies of language and rice farming in Asian culture are similar to the precision, regularity, and complexity of mathematical tasks (Gladwell 234). In addition, Gladwell refers to a study concluding that the willingness to complete tiresome tasks like an engaging questionnaire while being organized is directly linked to better performance when solving complex mathematical problems (Gladwell 231). The tiresome and engaging process of filling in the questionnaire compares to the rigorous and engaging practices of rice farming. The nature of rice farming and the required thoroughness primes the learner to easily tackle long, complex, and seemingly tedious math problems. In Maritas Bargain, Gladwell shows how the culture of planting and leaving the bare land months after the harvest is reflected in American education. The past agricultural practice influenced the view that rest is necessary for a working individual. Gladwell clarifies the prioritization of rest in American culture by narrating that the reformers responsible for Americas education systems saw the need for long summer vacations to help the learners break away from the hectic school schedule. Schools prioritize the concept of work-life balance in the education system. Gladwell then cites the work of Karl Alexander, who in a public school in Baltimore. The sociologist noted that students of different socioeconomic backgrounds recorded similar performances at the start of the year. However, students from poor backgrounds did not improve as much as their counterparts after the summer holidays. Gladwell suggests that the American system puts the underprivileged learners who cannot access learning materials during the holidays at a disadvantage (Gladwell 103). Gladwell links the cultural legacy of rice paddies to better education outcomes and the American system based on breaks and vacations to Americas education crisis.
Both narratives connect the cultural legacy of meaningful work signified by rice farming to better education outcomes. In both narratives, meaningful work is linked to hard and sustained efforts leading to a targeted outcome. Gladwells perspective in Maritas Bargain shows his disapproval of long breaks as part of work. In both narratives, Gladwell explains how cultural legacy shapes the perception of work. The Asians whose cultural legacy includes the meaningful work of rice farming have a perception of work that sets them up for success in academics. The group acknowledges the principles of persistence and perfected effort in meaningful work. In America, the cultural legacy emphasizing breaks influences the perception of work as a process that necessitates resting or relieving activities. Gladwell attributes the superiority of the Asian and KIPP students in academics to the cultural legacy of meaningful work derived from working in rice paddy fields. Gladwell associates the success in education with the cultural legacy of building rice paddies that fosters perfection, endurance, and sustained hard work.
Gladwell, Malcolm. “Rice paddies and math tests.”Outliers: The Story of Success(2008): 224-249.
Gladwell, Malcolm.Outliers: The story of success. Little, Brown, 2008.
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