Archive for November 28th, 2002

have-nots

Thursday, November 28th, 2002 at about 11:58 pm

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

have-nots

Just got back from Zuke’s house. Dinner was nice, it was a welcome first holiday here. After eating we played Cranium, at the request (or demand) of Zuke’s 9-year-old brother Nick. Zuke, Nobu, Amy and I were all on a team. We lost miserably, but it was still fun. Most of the people there weren’t American, so we tended to get the pop culture questions wrong. We tended to get most questions wrong, actually. You’d think with at least half a dozen chemists they’d get the science questions right, but no. No matter, it was quite enjoyable.

Thanksgiving is a good time. It does a body good to reflect on his life, what he has to be thankful for. The cynic in me says that Thanksgiving is just an excuse for the spirit of the have-nots to kick us in the stomach and force us to become guilt-ridden. Maybe, but it’s necessary. Without that kick every once in a while we lose touch with reality. Or, more accurately, reality becomes to narrowly confined to only what we know, instead of taking into the account the lives of other people. And besides, its not as if those less fortunate are asking for this to happen; it’s certainly not their fault. So I’ll take my kicks. I need them.

These thoughts on Thanksgiving came to me after my dad turned a short story about lunch with one of the secretaries in his office into a lesson about the meaning of giving thanks. He did it rather well, too, I must say. It was my kick in the stomach. It did what it was designed to: made me think. For this I am thankful.

Posted in General
by tom

feet on the ground

Thursday, November 28th, 2002 at about 12:51 pm

This is from last night, but I’m only getting around to publishing it now

feet on the ground

Dinner conversation tonight was more interesting than usual. Out of the daily dinner conversations we have, only one in every week or two is worth anything. It’s usually only decent once my sister leaves, too. I cannot understand why. It’s most likely just my relative perspective on a dialog’s value.

We talked for a while about boredom. My parents don’t want me to be bored in school. It’s very kind of them, but I’m afraid it’s a rather futile cause. My mom asks if I would want to skip a grade. I say yes, sure, but I won’t. It’s too difficult logistically. Even if I could handle starting in all sophomore classes right now, which I may or may not be able to do, I would first have to place out of the freshman classes. It’s a matter of volume; I just can’t learn all the information necessary to do so. This is why most people skip grades at lower levels: there it was more about thinking than content. Here it’s supposed to be about abstract thought, too, but this thought is achieved in a much more content/information-driven manner.

It’s such a waste of intelligence, Uni. Certainly within it there are varying degrees of intelligence, and very little (if any) true genius. But whatever there is, it isn’t fully used. So many of these kids have been forced into to dispicable mold of the A-freak. I would probably curse myself for wishing this to happen if it did, but we should be pushed to our limits. Instead of arranging it such that we can all work at whatever level we have to and be able to get an A, we should be all be stuggling to get passing grades. The emphasis must be taken off the grade and put upon actually learning something. Kids here don’t care about learning something (for the most part), they care about getting a decent grade. The A-freak does not learn much more than the kid who isn’t that concerned and gets a B or C. Furthermore, the kid who’s relaxed is more likely to actually remember some of it. The A-freak may get his (or more often her, for some reason) A, but they don’t stop to think about what they’re doing. It’s just a fervered and constant race for that A.

The problem goes beyond just the desires of the kids, however. There are a lot of kids here who are quite intelligent. Why not push them a little? Again, instead of setting it up so everyone gets a good grade, set it up so that we’re really, truly thinking, no matter what grade we end up with. Don’t waste this intelligence.

The key to all of this is the execution: don’t strain the kids by giving us tons of tedious work, strain us by making us think. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming, but it should be hard.

One of the problems with pushing kids is that there are such varying degrees of intelligence. To set up a uniform educational system that taxed everyone equally simply doesn’t work. Some kids are always going to “get it” faster than others. But that’s a problem I’ll have to tackle another day.

I’m bored because I’m not thinking. Writing this took more abstract thought than anything else I did today. Although that might just be because this is something that I care about more (and how sad is that?).

Once again I repeat: it’s all about limits. We cannot define ourselves in any way with intelligence until we know exactly what the capacity of that intelligence is. And once we define ourselves relative to intellect, we can take emphasis off of it and define ourselves in more unique ways.

Dinner conversation also dealt with Thanksgiving, but that’s going to have to wait a little while. I’m all worn out.

Posted in General
by tom