Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Trashing the System or Praising It?

Okay, my last post may seem like I'm totally trashing the American system of education but I'm not. Two cases in point.

The first is, my family was a perfect example of how one does thrive here. My sister hated the Singaporean system. There, at most, she'd score between 73-90 on tests. This isn't to say that my sister isn't smart. Au contraire. My sister just didn't thrive on that particular system of memorization, and hard objective tests.

When she came to Los Angeles and enrolled in junior high school here, what a tremendous change took over my sister. All of a sudden, she was engaged, couldn't wait to go to school, became valedictorian.

This from the girl who got so despondent over her grades that she gave up and ended up with failing grades instead of passable ones. I've a feeling that my mother tried that "it's not good enough" shit with my sister and it backfired big-time. It's small wonder my mother believes in miracles.

One of the differences was the co-ed system here. I'm not sure if that made a difference to my sister. Another was perhaps the curve. To be honest, I was rather young and too enamored of my freedom here in America to notice what was going on with my sister.

However, I will say this. I remember a sullen, angry girl in Singapore. Here, she laughed.

Since my mother left her here in that state (it was a mixed blessing; you can ask any of us) there has always been a part of me that wondered, did her happiness arrive because here, she could escape my mother's notice? There were 3 adults, 4 children and one on the way in a three bedroom house. Don't ask me how we did it, we did. Trust me, another part of me wondered if she was happier because pesky me wasn't by her side.

At any rate, she thrived here and has a master's if not three, plus umpteen certs.

Case #2 is what I touched on lightly in the previous post. That America teaches youngsters to think for themselves as well as teach creativity. I am a writer today because of America. I have correct spelling because of Singapore and pretty decent grammar because of Singapore (those my American-born friends and sister might disagree about the decency of my grammar - which reminds me of yet another point I want to touch on).

America gives people the choice in how they should learn. I honestly think that if you can determine how certain children learn, and then send them to a school meant to teach that way, you'd have more people learning.

Oh man, I'm realizing I have a TON to say about the educational system. It's been a hobby of mine to observe it just because of the benefit of dual systems at work within me.

I'm a visual mnemonics type of learner. Give me a weird mnemonic and I'll have it in my brain forever. "My Very Elegant Mother Just Sat Upon Nine Porcupines." That is how I learned how to remember the order of the planets in the solar sytem. "Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto." See? I learned that in 3rd grade I think.

Anyway, time to pick Bratworse up from the BART station. I'd better not get too lost in writing, otherwise I'll forget. She's already fearing it since I picked up the phone and without saying hello, I said, "I'm writing a ton!"

So far, all these thoughts running through my head isn't helping me get any closer to my novel. Oh well.



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