I just finished reading the book Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. I will be discussing different aspects of the book over the next several posts.
Gladwell discusses the importance of persistence in the study of mathematics, In a footnote, he mentions a study in which groups of Japanese and American 1st graders were given a difficult puzzle to solve. The Americans, on average, gave up after 9.47 minutes. The Japanese students? They worked 13.93 minutes, or about 47% longer than their American counterparts before giving up.
This raises several interesting questions:
1) How much does culture affect the learning of mathematics?
2) How do we establish a culture in our country where this type of diligence is more common?
3) What can teachers and parents do to encourage improvement in the persistence that Gladwell mentions?