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Education: At the Core   Leave a comment

It’s been a while since I’ve written a personal post, and I think, time for another one 🙂

I am still committed to my news project, and will try to post at least three times a week. I will be busier for the next month so preemptive apologies for the lack of posts! In general, in all of my posts, I am trying to tie in solid evidence/relevant news to place my perspective into the bigger picture. Though I write about my thoughts and speculations, these nice, pretty ideals have no weight if they are not grounded. There are times when ideals provide clarity about important issues, but to neglect the reality surrounding an issue is to be needlessly ignorant and irresponsible.

Onwards. As I embark upon another year of what is now expected of young people to fulfill, sixteen years of processing via the education system, I yet again am hopeful that the coming year will impress upon me new insight and wisdom. I have found, time and time again, that the entire concept of education has been shoved into ill-fitting boxes and packed away. I learned several things in six years (including kindergarten) of elementary school. First, my multiplication tables. Second, and more importantly, how to interact with respect other people. Third? To be afraid of making mistakes. Education is productive, is it not?

Each and every child is born with an innate curiosity, this gravitation towards knowledge. The first time you roll over and see if you can stand on hands and knees, and reach forward with one hand and move yourself in a specific direction. When you move your lips to make noises that mimic the sounds coming from those around you.

What does it mean to be educated? To be educated is to be curious. To be educated is to possess an ability to learn.

Thus, the primary intention of education is to nurture curiosity and to cultivate learning potential. (Which are really one and the same). Give a man a fish and you feed him for one day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

The former is the root from which the latter grows. And fearlessness is the water and sunshine that nourishes this growth.

From a small age, we are taught to not touch things we don’t know about, like his computer, the butter knife on the counter, the glasses. And these warnings are necessary for the safety of children and for the safety of others. If you spell color with two ‘l’s, that is incorrect, and requires correction. But at the same time, these warnings chip away at a childishly innocent confidence. I have watched as many of my childhood classmates fade from vibrant, quirky, unique children into jaded, tired, uninspired high schoolers. This trend is distinctly irrelevant to race, gender, and socioeconomic class.

Mistakes and success are two sides of the same coin. And the fear of the former is hindering our ability to achieve the latter. I can’t put my finger on when this fear sets in. As a teacher, a student, and a peer, I hurt when others’ failures lead them to despair, and I marvel at the transformation that accompanies real, vibrant curiosity.I have a unique perspective in that in the last decade, I have taught math from elementary level to first or second year college level to students of various ages.  Math is the most technical core subject; correctness is black and white. And yet, even when covering difficult topics, I have found ways to reinvigorate students. I have watched many a time, as a student not only improves significantly in their math skills, but also improves significantly in their confidence and eagerness to learn. The change is apparent when a student encounters a new problem. Instead of staring blankly at this unfamiliar sight and asking for help, they will attempt to tackle the problem from the approaches they do know, ask specific strategic questions, and ask the teacher not to solve the problem because they think that with their own capabilities plus a little nudge in the right direction, they can solve the problem themselves. So this vivacity and attraction to learning is something children are born with but lose at a young age, and possibly can regain.

The childhood mantra, “Why?”, of asking questions is something painfully misunderstood. Suppose we think of learning as trying to climb a tree. Both are trying to climb to top. One person tries one way, reaches a point where the next branch is too far away, climbs down. S/he tries a different approach, and again cannot find a way up. Staring at the peak, s/he decides one way is more easily conquerable, and makes some progress, before asking for a hand up from her/his mentor. Her/his mentor directs her/him to find a branch on her/his left side that s/he ought to be able to reach if s/he is careful. Another person stares at the top, cannot see an easy way to scale the tree, and asks her/his mentor to carry him up.

Asking why is only half of the story. It’s irresponsible to resort to the latter without trying the former. We live in a society that is accustomed to handing out free lunch to children. With a heavy dose each of lenience and bureaucracy, we call this ‘education’. The more free lunch is available, the less individuals are inclined to work for achievement.

And without the responsibility behind inquisitive minds, there is no substance or support to such curiosity, no backbone. While this responsibility can be cultivated, ultimately an individual is responsible for his or her own capacity to grow. With this in mind, I look forward to challenging myself in new directions in the coming year.

– Aderyn

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Posted August 6, 2014 by aderyngrace in Education

Gen Y News Project #4   Leave a comment

On the Ukraine/Russia/Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 front, as of now all of the bodies have been transferred to the Netherlands. The militants controlling the crash site still fail to cooperate with investigation efforts. International representatives have been allowed on to the crash site with unarmed security forces, as mandated by the Ukrainian separatists. Civilians and other unarmed personnel have been allowed as well. The investigators reluctance to comply with their restrictions have been used by Russian and Ukrainian officials to accuse the West of not trying hard enough to determine the cause of the crash. US intelligence officers have declared that Russian missiles have been fired into Ukraine, although not the one that shot down MH17. Currently the crash site is surrounded by heavy fighting, making it difficult for international groups to continue their investigations. For the past several days/the two weeks since the incident, the US and other western nations have been threatening Russia with increased sanctions and discrediting Russian officials for their weaseling out of responsibility, but Russia hardly cares, unless someone intervenes in their plans. The current situation bears a resemblance to Germany’s annexation of the Sudetenland prior to the Second World War. Russia’s agression towards Georgia in 2008, Crimea earlier this year, and now Ukraine seems notably expansionist and imperialist. The thing is, no one cares to stop them.

 

Related articles:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/fierce-battle-between-military-and-rebels-in-eastern-ukraine-halts-plane-investigation/2014/07/27/b695809c-1582-11e4-9e3b-7f2f110c6265_story.html

http://online.wsj.com/articles/mh17-crash-site-recovery-deals-with-delays-uncertainty-1406414586

Posted July 28, 2014 by aderyngrace in Gen Y News Project

Gen Y News Project #3   Leave a comment

Apologies for missing a day, I’ll try to keep this up as frequently as possible.

It’s slightly eerie how many air-related crashes/tragedies have occurred recently. First the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in the Pacific, then one week ago today, the crash of flight MH17 over  Ukraine. Flights from Europe and the US to Israel have been cancelled or redirected due to the ongoing Israel/Gaza conflict. A plane flying from Kaoshiung to the Penghu Islands crashed in a landing attempt (current death count around 50, still uncertain) yesterday. This morning, news broke of an Air Algerie flight that went missing over Mali. It’s spooky; one can’t help but wonder if something more is going on.

A bit on the Israel/Gaza conflict. I don’t know a ton about the history and background of this conflict, other than that this conflict is hardly new, it’s been a back and forth almost since Israel was created. From what I understand, Palestine and Israel are fighting over land, and built up resentment and mistrust. The victims are the citizens of both who are caught in the crossfire. But it’s interesting that though the refugees who are in hiding on both sides of the war claim they are no different from each other and wish the fighting would stop, 690 civilians in Gaza have been killed, and only 3 Israeli civilians have been killed, as of yesterday. Aside from the stark Israeli military superiority, these numbers illustrate a very different story for each side of the war. One of them is clearly suffering more.

 

Related articles:

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/health-facilities-hit-israels-gaza-attacks-death-toll-rises-over-640-129158985

Posted July 24, 2014 by aderyngrace in Gen Y News Project

Gen Y News Project #2   Leave a comment

The update on the investigation of MH17 confirms that the bodies of the deceased have been transferred to the care of the Netherlands, where they will undergo forensic testing to identify the bodies and to extract evidence about the crash. The black boxes from the fight have been recovered and given to Malaysia, where they will hopefully help further the efforts of the investigation. However, reporters on the ground at the crash site that not all bodies have been recovered, news the public, many of whom are already outraged at the lack of respect shown to the crash victims, met with dismay. Regarding the international politics and the responsibility for the surface-to-air missile that shot down the airliner, it appears that the blame has shifted away from Russia and towards Ukranian pro-Russian separatist. Russia has distanced herself from the separatists and have been playing the part of “fair mediator,” in an attempt to recover the damage to their political image incurred in the initial period after the crash, and is urging Ukraine to cooperate with the investigation efforts from the Netherlands and Malaysia, backed by the US and most of the EU. Faced with threats of sanctions from the US and EU nations, Russia has cooled off support for the Ukranian separatists, but still considers herself currently adversaries with the West.

Related Articles:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/23/ukraine-crisis-idUSL6N0PX3VX20140723

 

 

 

Posted July 22, 2014 by aderyngrace in Gen Y News Project

Gen Y News Project #1   Leave a comment

The current events I’ve been hearing the most about are the Malaysian Airlines flight shot down in Ukraine and the conflict in Gaza.

I’m sure this project will take on a life and direction of it’s own soon, but for now, as I’m simply trying to increase my own awareness, this project will be largely focused on summaries and related topics.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile four days ago on July 17th while flying over a region of Ukraine controlled by Ukrainian separatists. Social media posts by Ukrainian separatists took responsibility for the attack and threatened to shoot down future planes flying through their airspace. As of now, the Ukranian government and pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists are both denying involvement in the attack.

For days, Ukrainian separatists obstructed investigation of the crash site. Furthermore, the bodies of the victims were left at the crash site for many days before they were surrendered by the separatists today.

More and more evidence has come to light regarding the involvement of the separatists in the attack. We will have to wait and see how this conflict is resolved.

Related Articles:
http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/07/17/timeline-of-events-in-malaysia-airlines-crash-over-ukraine-live-blog/
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/22/world/europe/putin-calls-for-talks-in-ukraine-and-a-robust-crash-investigation.html

Posted July 21, 2014 by aderyngrace in Gen Y News Project

Gen Y News Project #0   Leave a comment

Recently, it crossed my mind that my generation of tech-savvy young people nonetheless manage to be woefully uneducated about the world and it’s goings on, and I am quite guilty of the same ignorance. In conjunction with another idea floating in my mind, how to become more self-disciplined, I am setting a goal to read a couple of pieces of news a day, and write a little about them. I have found that small but consistent doses of commitment and an accountability system a successful project make. 🙂 Look forward to post #1 tomorrow!

 

Aderyn

Posted July 20, 2014 by aderyngrace in Gen Y News Project

From the Ashes   Leave a comment

 

The thing about fire is that sometimes, the destruction reveals a clarity about the relevant and irrelevant, and the heat ignites a passion to rise from the ashes.

——————————————————————-

Recently, I lost about 6 years worth of writing on a flash drive from my previous computer.* My first thought was that I can’t believe I wasn’t more careful, and my second thought was that I had so many plots and shorts and essays written on that, my blog history, my works in progress, my character files….the only stories I have left are stories that I have sent to people, and often I only sent the best or finished parts and not the backbones. The daunting endeavor of rewriting each plot, each character bio carried with it a sliver of fear that I can never perfectly recreate them, and that maybe I’ve can’t even write that well anymore.

What a fitting Segway into something that’s been on my mind recently. This constant feeling of inadequacy. In the last several weeks, I’ve been…not quite clear-minded. The same discipline and excitement that used to wake me up at 6 or 7 each morning has worn down; over the last several days in particular, I nestle in the warmth of bed until nearly noon. I sleep very much, yet have hardly as much energy as I ought to. Right now, I have open on Chrome, two TV shows, with unfinished episodes, because somehow I don’t really feel like finishing them and mindlessly oscillate between the two, six or seven job applications that have been open for two weeks as I put off the maybe one hour job of updating my resume, a bunch of Java guides, Facebook, Expedia because I’ve been putting off booking my ticket to college because my mother wants to make sure I fly with someone else but all the people flying from the area frickin haven’t gotten back to me and just keep saying they will (for the last three weeks), Pandora Radio, two email accounts, and a list of deadlines for college forms etc. In fact, just now, I paused my writing to go book my flight. I’ve been distracted; I can’t stay on one task for more than maybe five minutes. I managed to wake up at 8:30 this morning, a close to acceptable time, and (it’s noon now) I’ve accomplished next to nothing. The first thing on my to-do list this morning was to get this off my head, and literally after writing for a couple seconds I’ll go fiddle with the radio or go through my plans again.

I’m not being unproductive because there are other things I want to be doing, I’m being unproductive because I can’t motivate myself. Even writing, I’ve had to force myself to sit down and finish this, because every time I look at this piece, I ponder for a couple seconds and think it’s too hard to go through all my thoughts. It’s much easier to read articles that aren’t even interesting and to surf the web. My to-do list has been pushed back day after day, and I both hate my listless state and lack motivation to dig myself out of it. This summer was supposed to be a glorious time, of friends, and learning new things that I’ve wanted to tackle for a while, like Java, Spanish, hip-hop, and get back to writing, a time to mentally prepare for the new challenges ahead of me. And I feel inadequate because I am not being the person I want to be, and I know it.

As is typical with me, I turn to writing to find myself again. There is no separation between my soul and my words; writing draws me back to an innate earnestness. Loss is scary because I’m afraid I can never write that alive again, because I think I’ll never keep improving, because your footing slips. The funny thing about it is that loss forces you to confront what is most important to you, and because you have to accept the loss, it forces you to confront the possibilities of how to repair the damage. Maybe it’s the utter fatefulness and irreversible consequences of loss that catalyze a surprising resilience to grow. Or maybe, in the face of despair (or desperation), the  fears that stop me from tackling projects and taking risks are dwarfed.

 

with renewed inspiration and love,

Aderyn

 

*I later found that I had copied most of my creative writing folder on to my current computer. Though I still lost 90% of the files stored on my drive, I am immensely thankful to have found the most valuable 10%.

 

Posted June 20, 2014 by aderyngrace in Uncategorized