I used to never write while I was emotional. I’d wait until after the emotion left me and then I would reflect and write about it intellectually. Clear headed. Writing emotionally scared me. Scared that people wouldn’t like my work. Scared that my writing would be too emotional — I tend to be sometimes. Scared that my friends wouldn’t accept this side of me: I’m a science/Engineering major so where is the data? Where are the facts?
But a couple of years ago a prominent blogger gave me some advice. Her name is Penelope Trunk. And what Penelope told me to do was write about what I am struggling with now. She said that I’d connect with people better. That all of the big bloggers write about their struggles now.
And what I’m struggling with right now is a breakup. I broke up with her last week. I didn’t want to, but I had to. We weren’t even truly together, not bound by any commitment, just our two souls touching — our minds, our hearts, our hands. We spoke to each other for hours everyday, always finding comfort in the other’s warmth and smiles and laughter and love. Our connection can only be described as: few in a lifetime. She was my best friend. And she was also a potential soulmate. And ultimately, that’s what split us apart.
A couple of days ago, I read that Ray Rice was being cut from the Baltimore Ravens. I was a bit stunned. He’s one of the best running backs in the NFL and still in his prime. You don’t usually see star athletes get cut like Ray Rice did.
But then I read why: he beat his fiance in an elevator and it was captured on video. I haven’t even watched the video yet, and I don’t ever plan on watching it. The thought of it is sickening. Violence and hurting others are two of the biggest things I stand against. I don’t tolerate harmful behaviours from anyone. I proudly thought to myself, “I would never hit a woman like that.”
“I would never hit a woman like that.”
“I would never hit a woman…”
I sat in silence as I found myself stuck on these words. I knew I would never get violent with anyone, but something was off. I began to think about everything that happened between me and my girlfriend after we broke up. Every word. Every encounter. Every feeling.
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
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