Lion’s Head, Snake’s Tail

There is an old 成语, or chinese idiom that my parents always say to me: 虎头蛇尾, or translated literally, lion’s head, snake’s tail. It honestly is a back-of-the-hand insult, meaning that you start too many things but never tend to finish them.

Honestly, it describes me quite well. I always have this huge amount of enthusiasm when I begin a project, and for a couple of days, seem to live off the adrenaline rush that accompanies it. I start reading up, getting signed up for everything, and just so heavily involved in every little aspect of it.

Yet, wherever I go, I leave behind a trail of projects that have fallen by the wayside, forgotten or covered up in utter shame. There is so much that I do that just ends up in nothingness.

When I translated this idiom in google translate, it actually gave me the term “anticlimax”, which I suppose makes quite a bit of sense. You tend to build and build and build, but suddenly you hit a brick wall and *poof*, all of your work has gone away.

My attitude tends to make me a person who is a “jack of all trades, master of none”, as I have pointed out several times earlier. I like to dabble, to get involved in the amateur stuff, but my weakness is in persisting through with an idea; to see it to its end. I might blame my short attention span; I might attribute it to low willpower. But whatever it is, it is one of my major flaws.

In fact, procrastination really tends to stem from this. If there is something that I am supremely interested in, I couldn’t afford to procrastinate! It is that I just slowly lose interest and the project falls, dead to my mind.

There are ties to education as well; why I love reading popular science articles yet find it difficult to really sit down and learn. I want to be stimulated, but I’m afraid of putting in the energy.

Like all habits, this is something that I need to slowly work on, day after day. It might just mean doing something that I don’t like very much, just to get into the habit of working. Maybe it means forcing myself to love and to learn even when it feels like that dark cloud of gloom is upon me again. Whatever it is, it is something that I need to change.

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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To Be an Activist

You don’t get up one morning and just think, man, how great it would be to protest for something!

You don’t just think, oh I would love to give all this that I have in order to pursue a thankless cause.

You don’t consider in the middle of the night, wouldn’t it just be great if I became hated by those around me in order to do what I believe is right.

Becoming an activist is tough.

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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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Broken Chalkboards

(Why chalkboards and not the current, quintessential whiteboard? I’m not sure; I think it has something to do with this odd love affair with nostalgia. )

Our schools are broken.

Even if you see the gleaming white city upon a hill, backed by wonderful and miraculous test scores and graduation rates, you still have to admit.

Our schools are broken.

And I don’t mean just a small crack in the soft exterior, or a clean break through a noncritical component. I mean a real mess of mistakes, spiderwebbing throughout the very foundation of education as we know today.

There are so many things wrong with our school that I’m not sure where to start, but in all hopes of full disclosure, I’ll try to just “start from the beginning, and keep going until [I] reach the end.”

Divided into parts because it became too long to handle. Hopefully I’ll have all of these thoughts onto paper before I die on May 1st.

Part 1: Tests.

Part 2: Rant.

Part 3: What Next?

Part 4: Teaching

Part 5: Score Shaming

Part 6: Get Smart

Part 7: Gift. Ed.