Be the best you

Sometimes I wonder if what I’m doing is truly a good thing. If it’s good for the world, for myself, for others.

A couple of days ago, I had a fight with one of my colleagues. We’re both helping run the Berkeley Math Tournament (if you’re a high schooler in the Bay Area, you should register), and we were working on a schedule for tournament day. I didn’t like her idea — I felt it was a huge waste of time, so I told her it was stupid.

She didn’t take my criticism well and so we started fighting. I don’t like backing down in fights, and as it escalated, harsher words were said.

She stormed out of the room and didn’t come back. I felt bad. I hadn’t fought with anyone in a long time. Continue reading

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Filed under Finding Yourself, Self Improvement

How to get into the school of your dreams: 6 admissions essay tips

College admissions is hyped up as one of the most stressful times of your life. For most people, it’s the first big application that they’ve done. There are no guarantees. This isn’t applying for your high school honor society, this is something more. If you don’t get in to a school you want, you see yourself as a failure.

And that’s the way most people view the college admissions process: they view it in a negative light. People don’t think about how much they can accomplish if they get into MIT. They think about how much they’ve failed if they don’t. Too many people see college admission as “happiness on the other side”; if you get into the school you want, then you’ll be happy. People are motivated by failure.

Let’s change this way of thinking. Why not be motivated to have success — why not be happy first? We know that if you’re happier, then you’re more creative, you have more energy, you can think better. So shift your mode of thinking — don’t put happiness after being admitted. Be happy now and let it lead you to being admitted. And if you’re not happy, just forget about the negative thoughts. Think positively. If you want to be happy, then you can be happy. Continue reading

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Filed under College Admissions, Fulfillment, How to write

5 ways for teachers to improve their student’s writing

In english class, we’re taught to recognize motifs, literary devices, and analyze characters. But we’re not taught how to write. Schools believe that we’ll learn how to write by diffusion: read and write without instruction, and we’ll know how to write. But it doesn’t workHigh schoolers suck at writing.

High schoolers suck at writing because our schools fail them. Starting from elementary school and through high school, english classes just aren’t providing the necessary teaching for kids to become good writers. Here are a couple things teachers can do in the classroom to improve writing: Continue reading

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Filed under Curriculum, How to write

Be the hero of your own story

Last week I had a conversation with my friend about helicopter parents. Her helicopter parents. They won’t let her have a boyfriend (she’s a sophomore in college) and they force all of their values onto her. They feel a need to be in control. She wants to abandon her religion, but she can’t. She has to please her parents; she doesn’t want her parents to be disappointed in her.

Her behaviour is completely normal; no one wants to disappoint other people, especially their parents. But disappointing others happens.  And it’s okay that it happens. If your parents love you, they won’t care what path you take. If they can’t accept you for your true self, then that’s on them. If you show your parents who you truly are; if you make an effort to have a relationship with them and they still don’t accept you, then that will be their regret. Your regret will always be not being true to yourself. Continue reading

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The irony of a class called Psychology of Creativity

I’m taking a class called the Psychology of Creativity. I’ve only had four or five classes, so I don’t know how interesting the class will turn out to be. So far, it’s been okay. We’re learning more about the influence of the majority and conformity than creativity, but it’s been engaging.

Before going to recitation last week, we were supposed to read two articles on how the majority affected the minority — part of the reading cited the Asch study. I found the reading to be really interesting; why do people in the minority allow the majority to have so much influence on them? In the Asch studies, did the people who conformed to the confederates just not have any confidence? I was excited for recitation; I wanted to discuss these, and other, questions in more depth. Continue reading

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Filed under Curriculum

I don’t need her love, I’ve got math

It took me a long time to realize that I had a passion for math. From elementary school to high school, I was always a top math student, but I didn’t always enjoy it. Classroom math is boring; plugging numbers into formulas just isn’t very interesting. I did competition math as well, but I didn’t always find that enjoyable either.

In Florida, there’s a high school math competition called MAO. It’s the premier math competition in Florida, so most of the kids who enjoy doing math competitively compete.

But MAO sucks. The focus is on rote memorization and drilling. Most of the time, the problems are solved by using one trick that was memorized from a formula sheet. It’s okay that there’s no understanding of the problem, just apply the formula. It’s also hugely relient on speed. There are 30 questions and just 60 minutes to do them. There’s no time to think about how to solve problems, there’s just finding answers. In this kind of competition, there’s no creativity, there’s no room for play. To be good, kids have to just sit and memorize solution methods. Continue reading

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The love for learning

Sometime between elementary school and college, many people lose their will to learn. Kids enter kindergarten having boundless energy. They’re enthusiastic, curious — there’s never a day when a kid doesn’t want to go to school. But as these kids grow older, and especially in high school, the enthusiasm fades, curiosity fades —  they’d rather stay home than go to school.

Worst of all, kids start to lose sight of the value of learning. We’re all born with innate curiosity, but schools quash that curious nature from us. Instead of allowing us to explore, we’re told what to learn. Even when we find something that really grabs us, schools seem to try to do their best to destroy that passion. There’s no room for creativity; schools try to mold every kid the same way, try to make kids the output of an assembly line. The emphasis is on memorization instead of problem solving, following rules and orders instead of creative thinking.  Continue reading

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Filed under Fulfillment, Self Improvement