Failures

What do you think other’s fail at? What do you think YOU fail at?

As a society, we tend to shun those who fail.

The homeless person on the street? Someone who has failed in managing money. The recluse who prefers the company of books more than people? Someone who has failed to gain social skills. The 49ers? A team that failed in front of the Seahawks (haha jk)

Usually, a definition of failure is good. Because people don’t enjoy failing, or the negative connotations that are attached, they will work their butts off in order to do better. I could put in remarkable effort to finish a project mere hours before the deadline, even as I remained stuck for the proceeding week. Failure serves as a reminder to work harder and smarter, to do more with our lives. Without the bitter, there would be no sweet.

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Get Smart

“Wow, you’re so smart! You’re always so good in school, getting straight As and being at the top of the class. My mom always wanted someone like you…. I wish I had your brains.”

Stop.

Rewind.

What just happened here?

In our society, we have a very specific definition of “smart”. While Merrian-Webster defines the adjective to be “Mentally alert; Bright; Knowledgeable”, it seems to me that us common folks usually measure smarts in other ways. For the most part, if you are a smart kid in school, it means that you range in the top 15% of your class; that you typically get As and Bs on all of your tests; that you maintain a perfect GPA, that you always do your homework; that, in short, you are a model student.

But is that really what smarts are?

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Physics Pasta Party

[SO, sorry for not posting the promised Saturday Book Review. I’ve actually finished quite a couple a books and was going to write, but then… things got in the way. I’ll write it up by Monday!]

Okay, so first things first: today was a really awesome day, in all the ways that you would expect and in so many ways that you wouldn’t have. Like the last couple times that this happened, I’ll go through the day in chronological order, with several brief interruptions in between.

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Score Shaming

Today is the last day for early AP score access, as well as the first day that the west coast, where I live, will be able to see those scores. Also, the IB scores were also released today, for my fellow International Baccalaureates.  Judging by the messages and reactions I’ve been getting from friends all week, I think that this post is quite obligatory for all you high school students out there.

Ever since Friday, I’ve been seeing posts about students using proxies to get access to their scores just a little bit earlier, or trying to find some way to see those numbers. People have been messaging me in a frenzy, trying to figure out why their browser was crashing or why they couldn’t find the proper identification codes. And you know what all of this means?

It means that we are placing way too much of our dreams and hopes upon the college board.

The Advanced Placement program, that which seems to dominate our lives.

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Apathy

“So, what do you want to eat tonight?”

“I don’t know, I can go anywhere. Where do you want to go?”

“You know me, I’m up for any kind of food. I’m not even that hungry. Let’s just choose somewhere and eat.”

“Yeah, let’s just go. Just choose something, anything. I don’t even care at all.”

“It’s too hard to choose. Why don’t we just head over to the drive-thru or something and be done with this.”

“Okay, let’s go.”

This conversation isn’t just the premise for Weird Al’s hilarious parody, Trapped in the Drive Through, but it’s also the current sad state of our youth.

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Farewell

swinging on the tip of the plane
as it cuts through the dark night.
gazing upwards to twinkling stars
but downwards to my heart.

departing from the land I loved,
from the place where time was still,
still moving even through golden days
and silver nights, resting on memories passed.

memories of the days of old
where not I, but others were the ones to go.
bidding adeus and farewells, but not long
’till teardrops fell like heavy welts upon the earth.

day after day turning into year after year
and yet never getting over the heartbreak
of leaving behind those familiar faces
and passing by, as ships in the distance.

but each bittersweet departure between friends
only opens up more to be explored,
only makes this dark planet a bit brighter,
only makes me closer to this small world of ours

and as the chilly air cuts through my mind
my thoughts turn crystal as the green light beckons me on
onwards to a new future and a bright beginning
chasing the horizon to the edges of the earth

but the compass for a fantastic future
will always be cemented in the lives of our past
And no matter how the dreams of our future change
we find solace in the friends we have made, in the gentle embraces, in the sweet farewells of the past.

The End

As the school year winds down, my mind turns to a more contemplative state, of times gone past.

The natural tendency at this time of graduations and promotions seems to indulge in some fond memories as the teachers grow more lax and there finally emerges the hopes of free time.

Reminiscing about the past has the ability to bring many tears of joy to your eyes, as the memories of success and bliss can be quite powerful. But, just as importantly, one must remember the mistakes, the hardships, the blunders and stupidity of times past.

I have not lived up to my goals, and I am disappointed.

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Teaching

There is much going on in the field of education, most of which I do not understand. However, one thing that can be quite distinct is the way teachers teach.

Even if we would claim that our system is broken, that the natural causes of learning and becoming interested in the world around us is broken, it is still arguable that there are teachers around us who try to change that. There are still those golden people whom every student wishes to get, who are able to turn learning fun, and make facts stick.

But what happens if even the most devoted of teachers get it wrong?

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What next?

Education is in shambles and there is clearly some problem in the system. Even if we don’t agree on the exact root cause of the problem, although the “grouping everyone into one big program” argument sounds pretty sound to me, we do agree that there is a huge problem with what is going on. However, we are students after all. Any real reform that we can do will not be experienced for many years, at least until after we graduate or even when those pesky younger cousins graduate. It is hard to change the direction of such a large program with so much inertia, and while it is possible, it would take lots of time and lots of money.

Still, it is in the face of true difficulties that the beauties of humanity can most aptly be shown. Even if we are not able to change the entire world immediately, there are so many small steps that we can take in order to incite an air of revolution. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so we better make sure that step is towards the right direction.

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Rant on Education

Inspired by a late night chat about the failures of education … as I was doing a time-filler exercise from one of my teachers. Oh how we love irony.

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I’m not exactly sure where I’m going to go in this post, but I do know that in order to do a full OPVL on anything that I write, you should probably know a little more background about me, my educational experiences, and what has influenced me to be where I am.

As covered in a couple of older posts, I’m pretty engrossed in education these days. It hasn’t always been that way though. Even though I have always been in a family that has heavily focused on the pursuit of education, the schools that I attended didn’t constantly reflect that view point.

Through my elementary and middle school years, I attended the Farragut group of schools, located in a suburb of Knoxville. Within the Appalachia cultural region of America, one of the less prosperous areas of the US, there isn’t really that large of a regard for education. Even though I was exceptionally blessed to be attend one of the wealthier schools, as well as having certain opportunities to challenge myself, there wasn’t the same culture of education that was at Farragut than there may be here, in Bellevue. Primarily, not all the students had their long term goal to go into academia, or needed that level of education.

Cultural shock was a big part of moving to Bellevue, if not in the edge-city feel, then in the radical change in the attitude of the people around me. The air of discovery, masked beneath a faux display of contempt was enough to drive me through 8th grade and into high school, to where I stand today. I would like to believe this fabulous little lie, that because of my origins, I am able to appreciate this education better than others, even though that’s fallen through so many times, evident in my own actions. Still withstanding, however, is my passion to learn.

And from there, why don’t we start on my rant?

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