Monday, December 15, 2014

Tư liệu: Tại sao một số nền văn hóa lại nhấn mạnh tính cá nhân hơn những nền văn hóa khác? (New York Times 3/12/2014)re individualistic than others?
Wheat People vs. Rice People

Why Are Some Cultures More Individualistic Than Others?

Dịch tóm tắt một số đoạn quan trọng:

Một nghiên cứu được công bố trên tạp chí Science vào tháng 5 vừa qua đã cho rằng nguyên nhân của sự khác biệt giữa phương Tây và phương Đông là do những định hướng xã hội khác nhau của cách làm nông nghiệp ở những nơi trồng lúa gạo và trồng lúa mì. Do việc trồng lúa gạo cần phải có các ruộng nước và chúng đòi hỏi một hệ thống thủy lợi phức tạp mà hàng năm đều phải đưa nước vào và rút nước ra. Việc sử dụng nước trong đồng ruộng của một người có thể ảnh hưởng đến năng suất của người hàng xóm. Vì vậy cộng đồng trồng lúa gạo cần phải phối hợp làm việc cùng nhau một cách chặt chẽ.

Credit Bratislav Milenkovic

AMERICANS and Europeans stand out from the rest of the world for our sense of ourselves as individuals. We like to think of ourselves as unique, autonomous, self-motivated, self-made. As the anthropologist Clifford Geertz observed, this is a peculiar idea.

People in the rest of the world are more likely to understand themselves as interwoven with other people — as interdependent, not independent. In such social worlds, your goal is to fit in and adjust yourself to others, not to stand out. People imagine themselves as part of a larger whole — threads in a web, not lone horsemen on the frontier. In America, we say that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. In Japan, people say that the nail that stands up gets hammered down.

These are broad brush strokes, but the research demonstrating the differences is remarkably robust and it shows that they have far-reaching consequences. The social psychologist Richard E. Nisbett and his colleagues found that these different orientations toward independence and interdependence affected cognitive processing. For example, Americans are more likely to ignore the context, and Asians to attend to it. Show an image of a large fish swimming among other fish and seaweed fronds, and the Americans will remember the single central fish first. That’s what sticks in their minds. Japanese viewers will begin their recall with the background. They’ll also remember more about the seaweed and other objects in the scene.

Another social psychologist, Hazel Rose Markus, asked people arriving at San Francisco International Airport to fill out a survey and offered them a handful of pens to use, for example four orange and one green; those of European descent more often chose the one pen that stood out, while the Asians chose the one more like the others.

Dr. Markus and her colleagues found that these differences could affect health. Negative affect — feeling bad about yourself — has big, persistent consequences for your body if you are a Westerner. Those effects are less powerful if you are Japanese, possibly because the Japanese are more likely to attribute the feelings to their larger situation and not to blame themselves.

There’s some truth to the modernization hypothesis — that as social worlds become wealthier, they also become more individualistic — but it does not explain the persistent interdependent style of Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.

In May, the journal Science published a study, led by a young University of Virginia psychologist, Thomas Talhelm, that ascribed these different orientations to the social worlds created by wheat farming and rice farming. Rice is a finicky crop. Because rice paddies need standing water, they require complex irrigation systems that have to be built and drained each year. One farmer’s water use affects his neighbor’s yield. A community of rice farmers needs to work together in tightly integrated ways.

Not wheat farmers. Wheat needs only rainfall, not irrigation. To plant and harvest it takes half as much work as rice does, and substantially less coordination and cooperation. And historically, Europeans have been wheat farmers and Asians have grown rice.
The authors of the study in Science argue that over thousands of years, rice- and wheat-growing societies developed distinctive cultures: “You do not need to farm rice yourself to inherit rice culture.”

Their test case was China, where the Yangtze River divides northern wheat growers from southern rice growers. The researchers gave Han Chinese from these different regions a series of tasks. They asked, for example, which two of these three belonged together: a bus, a train and train tracks? More analytical, context-insensitive thinkers (the wheat growers) paired the bus and train, because they belong to the same abstract category. More holistic, context-sensitive thinkers (the rice growers) paired the train and train tracks, because they work together.

Asked to draw their social networks, wheat-region subjects drew themselves larger than they drew their friends; subjects from rice-growing regions drew their friends larger than themselves. Asked to describe how they’d behave if a friend caused them to lose money in a business, subjects from the rice region punished their friends less than subjects from the wheat region did. Those in the wheat provinces held more patents; those in the rice provinces had a lower rate of divorce.

I write this from Silicon Valley, where there is little rice. The local wisdom is that all you need is a garage, a good idea and energy, and you can found a company that will change the world. The bold visions presented by entrepreneurs are breathtaking in their optimism, but they hold little space for elders, for longstanding institutions, and for the deep roots of community and interconnection.

Nor is there much rice within the Tea Party. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, declared recently that all a man needed was a horse, a gun and the open land, and he could conquer the world.
Wheat doesn’t grow everywhere. Start-ups won’t solve all our problems. A lone cowboy isn’t much good in the aftermath of a Hurricane Katrina. As we enter a season in which the values of do-it-yourself individualism are likely to dominate our Congress, it is worth remembering that this way of thinking might just be the product of the way our forefathers grew their food and not a fundamental truth about the way that all humans flourish.

T.M. Luhrmann is a professor of anthropology at Stanford and a contributing opinion writer.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Về dự án xây dựng đại học Minerva (2)

Minerva chắc chắn là một dự án đầy tham vọng. Có nhiều nghi ngờ, nhưng cũng có những người cảm thấy thích thú và ấn tượng về tính cách mạng của nó.

Đây là một bài như vậy. Bài viết cách đây mới hơn một tháng, vào tháng 10:

But while there are many things that make Minerva unusual, the curriculum is what makes it truly unique. Minerva toys with the notion that in a world where information is never more than a click away, what matters most is not what you know off the top of your head, but how you analyze and interpret everything you learn. And so, the school takes a hard stance against teaching hard skills. You won’t find any of the typical gen-ed courses in its freshman curriculum. Instead, freshmen take esoteric-sounding courses like “Empirical Analysis” and “Multimodal Communication.” The entire first year at Minerva is dedicated to teaching three things and three things only: critical thinking, creative thinking, and effective communication.  

Dịch tóm tắt: Trong một thế giới đầy rẫy thông tin miễn phí như ngày nay, điều quan trọng không phải bạn biết gì, mà là bạn phân tích và diễn giải những gì bạn biết như thế nào. Vì vậy trong năm đầu tiên Minerva chỉ dạy đúng có 3 điều thôi: tư duy phản biện, tư duy sáng tạo, và giao tiếp hiệu quả.

Minerva does teach students practical things, of course. Freshmen learn statistics and historical analysis, but only within those much broader courses. “Usually schools teach you English and chemistry and hope you’ll pick up critical thinking and communication,” Dr. Kosslyn says. “We’ve flipped it on its ear.”  

Dịch thoát: Minerva cũng dạy những điều cụ thể. Sv năm 1 có học thống kê và phân tích lịch sử, nhưng lồng trong những môn học rộng hơn (3 môn được nêu ở đoạn trên). TS Kosslyn nói: Người ta dạy tiếng Anh và Hóa học rồi mong rằng sv sẽ tự phát triển được tư duy phản biện và khả năng giao tiếp. Chúng tôi làm ngược lại.

Rất cách mạng, phải không? Một dự án mang tính cách mạng như vậy chỉ có thể xảy ra tại Mỹ, chắc chắn là như thế!