Tag Archives: Thoughts

When I Cry

Never judge from a single moment

Never judge from a single moment

Know that when I cry I am not ashamed. Not ashamed of the tears running down my face, the growing redness of my eyes, and my inability to breathe consistently. That as you judge me I’m still working and thinking.

Know that when I cry, it is not negative. It is not bad or sad or weak that I cry. That tears are natural and beautiful just like a smile or that twinkle in my eye.
Know that when I cry it is not about you. It is not about the words you’ve said or the things you did. That whatever you think you did to target me, to make me cry, is not true.
Know that when I cry it is always for me, by me, in me. You did not break my heart, I did for believing and trusting you. You did not defeat me, I did. You did not hurt me, I did. You can say that I don’t have that control. And I don’t, but neither do you.
Know that when I cry I am strong. I am as strong as when I laugh or when I shout. I am always fighting, whether it is through tears and gritted teeth or with a smirk on my face.
Know that when I cry I appreciate everything that you do. Whether it is a hug or a gentle words, know that every bit helps but also know that whatever it is I will fight, I will work through it, and I will ask for help.
I will change, for better or worse, and I will cry. Just like I will smile, shout and laugh. I will cry and I am proud of it.
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My Trip to L.A.

It’s been close to a month since I got off an airplane and my feet walked the sooty ground of Los Angeles.
I love the hustle and bustle

Those L.A. streets

And I’m still reeling, still amazed, and still yearning for more.

I’d like to thank Students of the World for the trip and all of the amazing opportunities. Without this chance, I’m not entirely sure that I would be as excited for the next two years of my life.

Thanking people always seemed a bit disingenuous to me, they are just words-and they can be such lies (as a writer, I know). But I truly do mean this when I say thank you so much for everything that I have learned and, more importantly, showing me that I am not alone in my ideals and hopes.

It is easy to think with the Internet that it would be easy to connect to people of the same ilk as you and to a certain extent that is true-but nothing can compare to seeing the sparkle in the eyes of someone in front of you when the conversation truly interests them. Nothing is the same as when you sit at a table with strangers you’ve just met and your heart grows because they have seeded themselves in you, and you never want to say goodbye.

The gorgeous view that we got to see every night

The gorgeous view that we got to see every night

I suffered a moment of anxiety when I first received the email that I would be sent to L.A. It wasn’t that I thought it was a scam, that it would be a waste of my time, or that I would be sold into some kind of slavery that would ultimately lead to my young death (though I did think about all these things). I was nervous that I wouldn’t connect with the people, the message, the mission. With organizations like Students of the World, where the ultimate goal is to do good, I often find that people are blinded by hope and good intentions. While that inspires me I often find myself drained of energy because the cynical side of me (believe or not, it exists) just wants to laugh in their face and tell them, “But how is this going to happen? How are you going to convince others? How is this going to keep you alive?” etc. This absolutely tears me up inside, because I desperately want the world to work in a way where everyone is sure in their decisions and their hope and dreams can just power all systems-but it doesn’t.

This probably captures a lot of my feelings about LA as a city

This probably captures a lot of my feelings about LA as a city

You would think that in L.A., a city described to suck souls out of hopeful artists leaving only dried husks of people flailing on poles, would only exacerbate my feelings. And while I admit the city as its own entity was not quite as awe inspiring as places like New York City, Toronto, and my home town of Hong Kong, the people I got to meet blew my mind. Not just out of my skull leaving me just incapable of having quality conversation (*cough*David Simon *cough*) but with so much awesome that some of it actually stayed in my brain and continues to inspire me everyday.

Thank you for all of the wonderful information and stories that made my brain keep turning and turning in hopes that I could figure out a way to create a time machine so that I could keep learning more. Thank you for reinforcing the idea that failure is real, normal, and something that you should embrace. Thank you for believing that my and future generations can do good and trusting us enough to ask for our opinions (sorry about trashing your new TV show, but we just want to help). Thank you for giving us connections and a network with some of the most amazing people I have ever met (so amazing that I don’t feel worthy to mentioned in the same breath as them). Thank you for giving me something real to strive for and work hard towards.

Out on the Walk of Fame-an amazing talent and probably some child labor law breaking

Out on the Walk of Fame-an amazing talent and probably some child labor law breaking

There are few decisions that I have made that I do not regret in some capacity, the decision to found a chapter of Students of the World at UNC-CH is something that I believe in whole-heartedly and do not regret in any way.

Greatest Gratitudes to everyone at Students of the World, Participant Media, and all of the new friends I’ve made.

It's always about those quiet moments

It’s always about those quiet moments

P.S. I regret my attempt to use “greatest gratitudes” in lieu of “thank you.” I regret that a lot, forgive me.

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It’s funny how much your brain starts to spin when your summer winds down. So begins a rant (perhaps every rant).

An idea has popped in my head multiple times for the past weeks, the idea of purpose-why are we doing these things, why not?
I go to school because I like to learn things or because it is the socially acceptable thing to do to get a job, which is a socially acceptable thing to have, or perhaps some combination of the two?
I want to tweet this joke because I want to make a joke at hipster culture and make my followers laugh or I want people to know what I’ve done and where I am?
I hang out with these friends because they have possible connections and we have decent conversations or I just like to hang out with them?
Purpose is silly, frivolous and arbitrary but it is still the thing that drives my decisions the most-I use it to justify whether I do something, or don’t.
It is freeing to have a process in making decisions and acting-I’ve probably made many more choices than I have before, but it bogs me down. It clouds everything in mysterious fog, something that automatically gives everything an air of importance and danger. So I shirk back-wondering is this right, and if this is the purpose of the medium, what is the purpose of my choice? Why am I choosing to share something on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Why I am sharing these thoughts on this blog?
Purpose is important, I know that and I respect that, but do you think I could get a guide? I’m more than a bit confused.
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In Limbo

I wrote my first YouTube comment today.

Not a quick blurb to get a chance to enter something, not some garbage that just so happen to accidentally get in there. I looked over the comments already placed to see if anyone had posted a similar thought to me, found none, and posted a comment.

To be honest, I didn’t post commentary on the video I had watched, I didn’t respond to another comment, I didn’t post a random thought I had that is vaguely related to the video-I posted a question. Be it a question that I genuinely have to someone I absolutely admire. So I’m not quite diving head first into Internet participation.

I know this is weird and you are probably thinking to yourself, “What do you mean Internet participation? Aren’t you participating right now? You’ve blogged before (and some pretty personal stuff too), you have Twitter, Facebook, etc.


My personal history of Internet use also paints me as an avid user of the Internet. I had dial-up, my first email was an AOL account, I had a pretty busy Xanga site (and by busy I mean a lot of colors and glitter,) I even was an avid user of Habbo hotel for about 8 months. But beyond basic communication with close friends and family I’ve been tentative with my Internet use. Tentative in the sense that sometimes it’s not really me on the Internet (not tentative in the sense of the amount of time I’ve spent on the Internet…so many hours.) At least, it’s not 100% of me-I never really immersed myself into the Internet, unlike, many of my peers.


I didn’t Instagram myself, Facebook my every thought, even my obsession with Twitter is mostly voyeuristic-in fact most of my Internet usage is observational.


Why? Self-consciousness, confidence issues, over-saturation, and paranoia.

There are a multitude of security issues, the reliance of the information as well as the perception of that information worries me constantly. There are a lot of artists, writers, filmmakers, etc., on the Internet-how much more different could my contribution be-why add to the overflowing pot. I don’t think any of the things I’ve produced and created is worthy of “publication.”

All of these thoughts have (and will continue to) go through my head. Which is why I’ve been in this strange participatory but not, not quite entirely observational space.


However, it is a time for change (honestly, when is there not a time for change?) and in an effort to step out of my head and (a bit) more into the “real” world I’ve decide to “publish” a bit more blindly. Take more security measures but not let the fear of thievery stall me. Not care what other people think of me (though this bit is a little terrifying, because I’d like to have a job). More importantly, not view “publishing” as sending out a finished product for the Internet to gnaw on, but instead take it as one more step towards finalizing projects. Furthermore, I may be one more repetitive post/video/graphic/etc. on the Internet, but I did it, and I like to think I’m a little bit different than everyone else.


So here I go…Hope some of you join this ride, no matter how far or how long it goes.

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Some Thoughts After the Zimmerman Verdict

I’ll preface this by saying that I’m grateful. Grateful for the life that I have lived, my family, my friends, the opportunities that I’ve had and will (hopefully) continue to have.

However, currently the world sucks.

Hopefully, if you are reading this you’ve heard about George Zimmerman being found not guilty of a multitude of charges stemming from the February 26th killing of 17-year old Trayvon Martin (and if you have not, or are not up-to-date on the details there are a multitude of sites that contain more information, please read up on it). My thoughts echo a lot of those being sent through social media, and my thoughts go out to the Martin family.

The handling of this trial along with all of the news of the past couple months has only made me firmer in my belief that there is something fundamentally wrong with the American justice, political and media systems. If the news of PRISM, of the Moral Monday riots in NC,  the anti-abortion bills throughout the country, and the media handling of all of this (don’t even get me started on the false, racist names that were broadcasted on national television after the Asiana flight accident) hasn’t made you question our systems of government and beyond-I’m not sure that you are living in the same world that I am.

The lack of transparency and communication is alarming to me and it scares me beyond belief-so what do I, do we do next?

I’m not sure, and there are much better and smarter people who may have some of these answers. I hope that they begin to speak up.

Because that is what I plan to do.

It can be so easy to hide, to hold your tongue, and I’ve done that. When I first heard about PRISM I was angry but more strongly, I was scared. I immediately dove into movies, television, books, any where I could live somewhere else and some other time. However, each film, each episode, each book only gave me more thoughts on what is exactly wrong and what could be done, every piece of media gave me another perspective, another view, and more importantly, hope.

It is now that I realize this is why I want to work in media. To make a difference, to make things more transparent, so that we can communicate better. Media that will help us understand perspectives and ideas, give us hope or slap us to attention, inform us towards action, teach us so we can to the best of our ability-this is what I strive for.

I hope today’s decision, as well as everything that has happened so far, can help you find something you can do to make this world a little less awful.

Learn more, listen more, see more, do more.

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An Update…

I am currently sitting in bed. Having done nothing the entire day except avoid all of my responsibilities. My brain desperately worries about the script I have to rewrite, the footage I have to edit, the material that I need to study for, my future in general.


Before I go any further, I also want to apologize for the lack of posts on this site (I am fully aware that I do this all the time.) The past couple of weeks have been insane (both in a good way, and in a more “I just realized that the Insane Clown Posse is an actual, popular thing.) But throughout it all I kept thinking-this would be something cool to write about, oh I’d like to think this through with some typing, could this make me internet famous?


So instead of rewriting my script, I’m going to write a quick Cliffnotes/Sparknotes (both are very useful-love, awful stupid student) of some of the thoughts that have gone through my head since my last post. Both for you (imaginary readers, that according to analytics are not that imaginary) and me so that I can remember to write more about these things.


GERONIMO (Just watched Doctor Who, they are definitely trying to get Matt Smith to use the 11th Doctor’s catchphrase more-we may reach Tennant levels if the current trend keeps up.)


1. I was lucky enough to be chosen as the student playwright for Activated Art at the Ackland this year. I got to work with some amazing professionals, go through a very similar process that many working playwrights go through (8 drafts and counting,) meet inspiring people, and get to see my play performed in front of me. The entire process was amazing, unimaginable and strange. I will definitely go into much more detail as to how everything went but the biggest thing that I got out of this experience is this. Creativity is scary.

When your ideas are still in your head there is a certain amount of control. You can still manipulate the ether, shine your light into the unknown darkness, hide from the scary bits, and keep mulling it over.

But the moment you say it aloud, the moment that other people can hear, can see, can feel what you are thinking-any semblance of control is gone. And that is scary. Just as terrifying as those moments when you question personal loneliness, as exhilarating as when your fingers brush against your crushes, as encompassing as when you dive straight into the deep end. It was overpowering and there were days where I left rehearsal seriously considering my current path towards a creative career. Yet I am still here.


2. During those hazier moments I realized how powerful just simple gestures and emotions are. Because it boiled down to just seeing someone genuinely smile at me. It was a beacon in the darkness that I am ever grateful for. And it is addicting-I never really understood the strength of another person. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my crushes, my loves, my unrequited loves that create collapsing black holes in my heart. I just thought it was me, that my silly head created these feelings in the absence of anything really tangible (essentially angsty teen.)

But the emotions that washed over me when I saw that smile, when it was directed at me-because of me. I want that feeling, and I want it forever.


3. Forever is such a silly concept, especially when you connect all of the wibbly-wobbly timey wimey stuff to it. Time is such a strange concept-something that I want to keep exploring especially in context with the human lifespan, “milestone” moments, biological development, culture-essential “what are we meant to do, and when.”


4. This would be even more interesting when you add human relationships to it. Thing I also learned-human relationships-I know nothing, so I need to discover, explore, and investigate.


5. Discover, Explore, and Investigate.

Those three verbs are what I need to constantly keep doing. Learning is important and it is very hard to keep that in context when culture keeps pushing as to just do. How do we make learning a lifelong priority? How do we make it as flexible and adaptable as the human brain/evolution? Why does my current university learning experience make me question everything (and not in the good, whoa the world way.)


6. I suck.

The world is an amazing, glorious place. Filled with inspiration, joy and mysteries. I love that it exists, but I question my place in it. There is a part of me that just wants to blend in-become part of the ecosystem so well that people forget that I’m there. Another part of me wants to be extraordinary-be fascinating, be wanted. I’ve thought about this dichotomy a lot-how culture creates these ideas and expectations for me, but the most that I’ve concluded is-I suck.


I’m going to end on that cheery note because that has been my lingering thought lately, so may it linger in your thoughts a bit.

Perhaps I will elaborate on all these points in the near future, I’d like to. But remember I suck, so I might not.

Talk to you soon blank word document, you devil you.

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I’ve been busy (really, I’m not trying to garner attention or sympathy.)
(Perhaps, a little) School, fencing, projects, personal relationships-everything that composes normal life for a student-athlete. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. Knowing that I am doing things that I love to do, and I am (was) good at it.
Even as close as two weeks ago, I was ahead on work-emails were replied to in seconds, things were done and I had some free time. However, now…Well now I’m not so ahead (not that I’m particularly behind.)
What has changed? I’m not entirely sure but I have a hunch.
I don’t really have time for hunches-I have a biology exam tomorrow, another draft of a play to write, sequence 5 of my feature, scheduling to do for my documentary project, scheduling to do for CAN, readings to do for my COMM class, and probably more (nevermind, my collegiate fencing duties, my relationships with people, my personal goals and my vanity.)
Perhaps I’ll talk more about my specific projects and duties. But I don’t really have time for that. I could be writing about a dystopian future right now, instead I am writing about how I am feeling (why I am feeling) in an attempt to right myself for the amount of work I need to do.
The thing is, my hunch at least, that I’m afraid (terrified, paralyzed by) success. Silly, ridiculous, and unfortunate, really.
It’s not that I’m satiated by it-the opposite. The mere taste, the slightest whiff of success makes my brain crave it, my mouth waters and want to grab it (whatever it is) and hold it close to me, squeezing (protecting) it.
Failure has always been my companion (muse?) and when it side steps behind me, behind success, I feel different (anxious.) The drive is still there (stronger than ever.) But the focus disappears, it is as if victory (as fleeting as it is) taints me. Poisons me and I don’t want anymore doses…so I stop.
Success is a strange beast, it fills me with pleasure but it terrifies me. It is never alone, it has friends that torment me. But most importantly (potently,) it makes failure a stranger again. Who was once a friend becomes a stranger, who in the dark becomes an enemy. It is the fear of someone that I knew so well that tinges success, because I know that if I let success through the door failure would follow close behind and stab my in the back. So I open the door for success, linger on the glorious view and just stare.
It doesn’t make sense, it isn’t productive, it is extremely frustrating, and I want it to stop. The issue is how.
Perhaps this post is an attempt to fix my problem. By writing it out, trying to understand it, that I will find the solution. Maybe I will, hopefully I do.

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Some Thoughts on Writing or Why I am Writing Right Now

The notion of writing, placing down symbols to represent a thought, an idea (regardless of its truth,) is a strange one-and one that differentiates humans from the many organisms that inhabit this planet. A key question that arises (at least for me) is who is writing for?

Is it for the author? A record of fleeting thoughts so that we can relive what our degenerating brains can no longer properly remember? An enjoyable moment to dump our brains, perhaps understand ourselves better.

Or is it for our peers? A physical manifestation of our thoughts so that we can share them others-but to what end? Communication is the obvious answer, but to communicate what exactly is less so. Is it to gloat? To show others that, yes indeed I have important and revelatory thoughts in this head of mine. Or perhaps to seem aloof, I do not need to complain nor talk to others, the only confidante I need is my pen.

I always had this fantasy that I would keep a diary with all of my deep inner thoughts and feelings, my cool and fantastical ideas that could revolutionize the world-like Da Vinci’s notes. It would be for my own personal use but more importantly (this is a fantasy) when I die (or something tragic befalls me) someone will find my notebooks and would realize that I was a much better person than they had previously thought. I imagine this is my way of being remembered when I’m gone, that I will be hailed as a genius of some sort posthumously (so I wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of fame apparently.)

This caused my earlier attempts at journalling to be pretentious, pompous and just embarrassing. Looking back at those entries do not remind of things to do, instead it just makes me despise how I write when I’m extremely emotionally charged.

Then the Internet became popular and fame was simply a few keyboard touches and a mouse click away. Theoretically your writing could be seen by more people than a book published in the 1880s would ever see. The conundrum grows more muddled with the Internet. Are you writing to sell yourself to an imaginary audience of thousands, or is it still for you? I ventured into this world tentatively writing under pseudonyms and avatars. I tried to cater to audiences while desperately trying to keep showing the digital realm that I am a diverse human being (a girl even!) that was innocently giving them peeks into my mind. I wrote like I wanted to be hired by Gawker Media (initially Gizmodo, then io9,) so I wrote reviews and topical thoughts in the same vein as what was trendy. But constantly second guessing myself because of the nagging thought that “individuality matters! Be an individual you numskull!” So plans of CES coverage, Apple Keynotes, etc. built up until I just didn’t want to do it because Stephen Totillo already it and Brian Lam already shit on Apple for me, who needs copycat posers in a sea of them?

With so many conflicting thoughts I quickly ended up doing nothing but daydreaming about that moment when I will write and immediately become successful and relevant forever.

So what has changed? Nothing. I still constantly worry about what I am writing and why I am doing it. For me or for them (whoever they are)? Does the judgement of the Internet and those that roam it matter? Does the future judgement of history matter? More importantly, does it matter more than your own personal judgement?

The only thing that has changed is that I’ve become more indifferent (some would say savvy, I really wouldn’t.) I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter, that the world continues turning regardless of what I type and what you read. That’s the beauty of the world-it is based on action and inaction, not from symbols on a page nor sounds emitted from vibrating vocal cords. So if the NCAA reads this (which I doubt, but Hi!) or a future employer does, so be it. What I’m writing is a close approximation of how I am thinking right now in time, it is built from the past and will constantly change in the future.

So why do I write? Right here, right now on the Internet? Because I want to become a better writer and that requires practice. Because I want to express myself articulately to myself (and perhaps to you, Reader.) Because I want people to read this and understand one aspect of one person living in the same (maybe different, hello aliens!) world. Because maybe I’ll get famous and rich. Because it’s time for me to act and do something, to possibly alleviate some regret and enjoy myself.

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New Year

I’ve begun writing this post (or at least a version of this post,) at least 25 times.

August: “Hello World, I’m trying to dig myself out of a hole and this is my first attempt….”
September: “Autumn (or Fall, however, you would like to name the changing season) is my         favorite time of year. To me it    represents renewal far better than Spring (the traditional rebirth season.)
October: “Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year, a time where masks are appreciated and admired, perhaps because Halloween is when they are most apparent.”
November: “I’ve officially hit my 20’s. No longer can I be labeled as a tween or a teen. I’m a ‘young adult,’ perhaps even a ‘grown-up,’ and yet why do I feel like I’ve just been born?”
December: “My first semester of my sophomore year is officially over and I’m happy? The                   question mark I put there, yes the one placed after the word ‘happy’ is perhaps the most honest piece of punctuation I’ve ever written (typed, if you are being picky.)
So here I am, again, starting this post with the fleeting determination that rises through everyone on New Year’s Eve. Resolutions, promises, goals-all made in an attempt to improve oneself, but more importantly to try to redeem ourselves for our preceding years, in this case 2012.
However, my issue is that while I truly believe that we should not be solely defined by our past-to hope to start off with a completely clean slate, simply by making alcohol and regret fueled promises, is impossible. Regardless of the circumstances regarding our personal histories those things did indeed happen and mean something, no matter how minuscule we want that to be. So instead I propose that we learn from our past to build (as slowly as necessary-past history lesson one: we all move at different speeds even if towards the same destination) our aspirations for the future.
My 2012 have been one of the most enlightening years of my life-not my happiest, funnest, exciting, [other positive verb]. I’ve never been lower (so far) more depressed, more angry, frustrated, [other extremely negative verb,] in my life. But as the year draws to a close (literally minutes away,) and as Taylor Swift performs live on the television in the background, I’ve recognized that all of those moments and thoughts have brought me to this point in time where I’ve caught a bit of a guiding headwind, and I may just know what I’m doing (really.)
Now disregarding the notion of alternate timelines where perhaps I’m happier and more successful, and had a better 2012 (let’s lump 2010 and 2011 into there too.) The person that I am now, is made up of all of those previous moments, the happy and exciting, along with the disappointing, depressing, and regretful. From this point it is now all about looking ahead and improving myself, so perhaps when I look at 2013 from the cusp of 2014 I’ve created a compilation of moments that better describes and constructs me as the person I am and want to be.
So what will I be attempting to do in 2013 that will “make” me an improved human being?
Write More (Create More)
My steadily solidifying dream of being a writer/director/creative type involves a lot of aspects (which I’m sure I’ll develop in a future post,) however, it hinges on improvement, and the only way to improve a skill is to do it. So I want to write something everyday. Whether it be a post to the blog, an entry in my personal notes, an article, screenplay, whatever-I want to do it everyday.
Read More (“Real Education”)
Creation is mostly regurgitation, and since vomiting on an empty stomach is extremely painful and unpleasant, I resolve to gorge myself-with information and knowledge of course. I want to read (at least) 40 books in 2013, whether it be fiction or nonfiction, graphic novel or dense philosophy soliloquy. This type of learning, which I’m categorizing as “real” (I’ll elaborate later), does require some sort of indexing because my brain is not built-in a prodigal way. So I plan on implementing a version of the Verge’s Thomas Houston’s method of “backing up your brain,” this year to be a bit more efficient with my continuing education.
Study More (College Education)
My college career so far has been lack luster (perhaps even dreadful) so I resolve to be better engaged with my given material. Obviously straight As would be nice, but I also realize that my abilities to maintain good grades have steadily declined through my educational career, and that being educated and knowledgeable does not have a direct correlation to grade point average.
Connect More
A vague resolution I know, but when the world is pushing into my face that “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” it’s hard not to want to get to know more people (whether it be online or IRL.) I do want to stress (mostly to myself) that I do want quality in my future relationships, that meaningful should be first to sheer quantity (now to figure out exactly how to do that.) In terms of immediate plans, I plan to be more active on online social media (Twitter, FB, G+, YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, etc.) As well as just hang out with real human beings more.
Do More (Be More Efficient)
This year has shown me that I am capable of doing things (and relatively well,) but that I need to do things more-so that I can improve. So this year is very much about efficiency. How to do that specifically will be ever-changing however, hopefully by learning from efficient people (Tim Ferriss, Chris Hardwick, etc.) I’ll be able to turn my procrastination into some type of progress.
Be Inspired More
This may be my most important (and favorite) resolution-2012 marked a year where I let darkness cloud and block out the bright shininess that is inspiration. I love being inspired but it is so easy to forget that feeling in the constant flow of life, so I resolve to retain my inspirations and share them to the world. With a combination of Thomas Houston’s method, and hopefully this blog, I’ll have a record of what inspires me and why. So when those dark clouds drift over (which they inevitably will) I’ll have a weapon to combat them that is effective as a good warm cup of chai on a chilly winter’s night.
So there it is. My resolutions, as well as the thoughts behind them. Writing helps me organize my thoughts, but boy do they open a flood of even more thoughts. To 2013, a better year (depending on your perspective of course) than 2012.
Happy New Year Everyone.
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Well exams are here @ school and I’m starting to break out…Productivity is down, so hoping for some inspiration that will start up the engine again. In English one day, we were assigned to write an essay about exams (coincidently because a friend and I had made a presentation to the faculty about exams…) This is what I submitted sans any real editing. I’ll get to editing and the real juicing up in my free time (which might be in about 5 years…)

Bringing Education and Evaluation to the Future

Education is important. The importance of an education is so high, that they United States government spends 46.7 billion dollars on the Department of Education. Without it, we would not be the world that we are today; we wouldn’t know how to find the derivatives of numbers, or how to properly use the semi-colon. Without it, we wouldn’t know how to build a car, let alone drive one. The absolutely amazing fact is that we wouldn’t even be sent back to the Dark Ages because even in 450 AD they had schools. Education is important-but is testing necessary?

The very first standardized test was used in the Han Dynasty in China in 206 BC, to correctly evaluate the abilities of men attempting to enter the government. These imperial examinations covered music, archery and horsemanship, arithmetic, writing, and knowledge of public and private rituals and ceremonies. Further along, military strategies, civil law, revenue and taxation, agriculture and geography were added to the list of subjects. Participants of these set tests were expected to properly perform and know everything in front of proctors, as well as amid hundreds of their peers. Crowds would anxiously wait for their results, chatting nervously to each other, sweating as they wait to find out if they passed. This type of evaluation began to spread and eventually was adopted in many other countries, including the United Kingdom, big sister to the United States. This type of system has lasted for more than 1300 years.

In 1300 years, we have harnessed electricity, invented ways to fly through the sky, created pathways across the globe, and flown to the moon. Yet we are still testing in the same way as our Asiatic ancestors?

A system that has worked for more than 1300 years demonstrates that it works. Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken. And exams are necessary, without them we wouldn’t know what we need to work on, both as students and teachers. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to properly evaluate the entire education. Without them, we wouldn’t be properly preparing students, the future generations, for what is out in the real world; life is just a giant test and an A+ is thriving and surviving. But is life the same as it was 1300 years ago?

With a new world, there are new challenges that must be prepared for. A test based in the 540 BC doesn’t exactly prepare for 2010 (horseback riding and archery really are not that vital in the digital age.) We have adapted to new security threats, new information about the environment, and even the problem of properly sending human beings to space. Why not adapt testing too?

Currently testing often calls for some sort of extreme standardizing that was unheard of in the Han Dynasty. Each subject back in the Han Dynasty would take 24-48 hours to complete, allowing for proper evaluation of the participant. Now, three hours are given to comprehensively show the understanding of weeks of material. This causes undue stress that often results in “superficial” learning aka “cramming.” This does not properly evaluate the education received by the student, which is unfair both to the student as well as the teacher. However, it must be noted that these types of tests do lend to certain subjects, specifically depending on the purpose of the course. If the purpose of a history course is to know who does what and when, then a multiple choice scantron is absolutely acceptable.

What this new digital, globalized world now opens so many new doors of opportunities in not only learning and teaching, but also testing. Studies have shown that there is an increase in scores, when students are allowed some access to computers and computer-based instruction. Furthermore, other studies have shown that student’s attitudes towards learning and their own self-concept improved consistently when technology was involved. It isn’t just about technology but advances in teaching, for example the use of modeling, could be implemented and adapted towards better testing.

This school has always had a tradition of innovation and excellence, why not take the resources that we have and find a new and better way to soar into the future?

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