Summer programs, interests and career development


This is what I share with some people today regarding summer activities.

Summer is a good time for club activities, with once or twice a week meeting, like builder’s club (design models with Lego), weaver’s club (making stuffs with fabric or yarn), writer’s club, forensic club (solving crime mystery like lawyers), even origami club.

By the end of summer, you can either hold a contest or a show just to showcase children’s summer achievements.

Its benefits include developing or enhancing interests and making a good use of summer time.

For writing club, there are many writing contests nationally. We can encourage kids to participate in one of them.

Let’s try to avoid using class format. Class form sounds more formal and intimidating than club. You want kids to be relaxing and casual, like sitting in a round table with a lead instead of a teacher, an authority figure.

Regarding management of the kids, two things should work:
1. An agreement like a rule that kids should follow and the consequences for failing to follow.
2. A lead person, which anybody can play that role. You really want to develop leadership talent within instead of seeking outside authority.

It’s like the old style cadres who is elected within the group, even rotating that role. Why do we need a teacher to lead when we have leader within us? It’s like you don’t trust kids can manage themselves well or not?

If you want them to develop extraordinary skills and talents, it’s better to start with out-of-box thinking and unconventional teaching method. This way you can attract more people.

Of course, whoever leads, we have to give instructions and directions. There’s always the first time, which is the most challenging part. Once we pass that challenge, road ahead should be smoother

It’s better to experiment with new approaches of learning and class management. You don’t want your class to be one of those after school knowledge cramming activities. You want to leave a legacy of being unique in developing full potential in each one of the participants.

I think most people are still encased in the conventional concept about education, that is, its purpose is to learn some knowledge. You have to realize that there are plenty of people with knowledge. But without the ability to utilize or maximize their knowledge, in the end, they cannot escape the fate of being nothing but an instrument at other people’s hands.



Make friends and be Healthy children at school and at home


I read this article today Healthy School Year and thought of sharing with parents here, even though some of us already knew this, even though my children have all left home. It is a good one and I wouldn’t let go any good one without sharing it here.

“Grades may matter less than parents think By Natasha Persaud Feeling socially connected as a child could be more important to future happiness than good grades, according to new research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies. The Australian study tracked more than 800 men and women for 32 years, from age 3 onward, to discover pathways to adult wellbeing. Their model of wellbeing involved values such as:
(1) believing life is meaningful,
(2) social involvement at work and at play,
(3) having coping skills,
(4) and kindness and trust.
Remarkably, economic security wasn’t included because previous research suggests it’s not that important to happiness.

Why Parents and BFFs (Best Friends) Matter During childhood, parents and teachers assessed whether participants were confident, well-liked by peers or excluded from activities. During adolescence, the now teenagers performed self-assessments that gauged personal strengths, friendship quality, parental support, participation in groups and overall life satisfaction. Having someone to talk to if they had a problem or felt upset was very important.

Why should social interactions early in life matter? The study authors posit that it promotes healthy ways of relating to oneself, others and the world. The research, while preliminary, might be eye-opening for parents. While grades are important, fostering a good relationship with your son or daughter is more so. Likewise, helping your child form positive friendships may help him or her enjoy a truly good life later on.”
End of the article.



New education guideline: children must learn about evolution


The end of new Dark Age.
This is how I felt when I read on 4/9 an article from New York Times site, “New Guidelines Call for Broad Changes in Science Education.” Two key points will mark the end of Dark Age in America, if they are followed.

(1) On Climate change: “Educators unveiled new guidelines on Tuesday that call for sweeping changes in the way science is taught in the United States -including, for the first time, a recommendation that climate change be taught as early as middle school.”

(2) On evolution: “The guidelines also take a firm stand that children must learn about evolution, the central organizing idea in the biological sciences for more than a century, but one that still provokes a backlash among some religious conservatives.”

The guidelines, known as the Next Generation Science Standards, are the first broad national recommendations for science instruction since 1996. They were developed by a consortium of 26 state governments and several groups representing scientists and teachers.

This is only a guideline. I don’t expect all people will accept and follow it. Still, it’s a progress.



“Ph.D.s in general have a less than 50 percent chance of having a full-time job”


I used to think one can never go wrong by getting more educated, like going to graduate school, then to Ph.D. Not long ago I heard this from NPR, my favorite radio station.

What I learn is a bit discouraging. “…job numbers released by the National Science Foundation show that people with doctoral degrees in those technical fields are struggling to find work in their industries.”

“Jordan Weissmann, an editor at The Atlantic, analyzed the latest NSF figures. Upon graduation, he says, ‘Ph.D.s in general have a less than 50 percent chance of having a full-time job, and that percentage has been decreasing for about 20 years.'”

“Worse yet, as of 2011, approximately one-third of people graduating with a doctoral degree in science, technology, math or engineering had no job or post-doctoral offer of any kind.”

In fact, it is more than discouraging. I don’t know what to make of it, but it is certainly scary, as if the U.S. with its poor economy is no longer able to provide enough jobs for those with a doctoral degree. I guess we won’t be able to see many foreign students in our doctoral programs here.



The elective courses of middle school children


On the weekend of 1/12/13, a friend of mine called about the elective courses for her son’s first year of middle school.

Since they only have two electives and there are many courses that the children are interested in taking, parents are often at loss what to choose.

Some courses are year-long one, which means you have to take it for both fall and spring semesters, like orchestra and foreign language. With a foreign language, you won’t learn much if you just spend a year or two on it. If the children take these orchestra and foreign language, they will not be able to take anything else. This is what I asked my daughter to do when she started middle school.

My original intention was to have her on both of them throughout high school years. If she could take six years of French, she would be able to master the basics and would be trilingual by the time she applied for college. Of course, with music, as I had seen its benefit on my son, so I wanted her to keep it till she leaves for college, its positive impact would be lifetime long.

The only problem here is this is a parent’s plan. A parent’s plan can never succeed without children’s cooperation and implemention. My daughter gave up music when she entered high school and quit French by her second part of junior year.

Here’s the result:
(1) she did not learned as much as she should;
(2) She wasted time;
(3) She could have taken some electives to exploit and broaden her interest in other areas;
(4) Because she didn’t do well in French, her French grade hit the lowest bottom and hurt her other area, too;
(5) It turned out parent is responsible for all this.

When I look back, I think my daughter might be better off taking whatever class she was interested in at that time.

Children are different and have to be dealt with different parenting style. It is a much bigger challenge to the parents if the children are headstrong. In making any plan for the children, a parent has to take into consideration the child’s maturity and responsibility.

P.S. my daughter is going to Manhattan with her school at noon today. This will be her last visit to Manhattan for competition since this is her senior year. Wish her good luck there.



In donation, both quantity and persistence count


Since my son’s first year of college, I made the point of donating to his school every year. I told myself I might not be able to make a chunk of addition, but it would all add up if I can keep on doing it, a few hundred every year.

I didn’t miss a year since then, even if we were financially tight when he was in college, even if we try to save for my daughter’s coming college expenses.

Last week, we had a big credit card bill, that donation being one of the large charges. I told my daughter of this annual donation. “Many of my colleagues spend around $25 a week on lunch expense. Since I bring my own lunch and plus I do away with many other feminine vanity expenses like makeup, nail polish, jewelries, etc, I can very well donate this saving to some worthy cause.”

She applauded my choice. Of course, I hope she will do the same in the future.



When the child becomes mature and responsible for his own studies


Last week when I talked to my sister over Skype, she told me of some good news about her son after he started his third year of middle school in China.

“He is getting better at managing his own study now,” she said. In the past, prior to a test or exam, if you asked him “Have you prepared well for the exam?” He would always say yes. But the test result showed his lack of preparation.

This year he would test himself without looking at the answer. If he catches his own mistakes, he would pour more effort on those weak spots. The result of test confirm his effort.

I would say the boy cheated himself in the past. He knew he was not fully prepared, still he did not want to work more, hoping these questions that he wasn’t sure of would not show up in the test.

Now, he is mature enough to know he should be responsible for his study and his future. Ultimately, he will be the only one who gets hurt if he keeps on this self-cheating game. Good for both my sister and her son. I am glad for both of them.



When the monitor is an MD…


On 8/30, we had a monitor from San Diego. She handed me her business card which I didn’t pay any attention. But my colleague noticed that she was an MD. “She is an MD. What does she do here doing monitor work?” came the question.

We could tell from her foreign accent that she is not a native here, even though she sounds very smart. Next I heard some negative comments and gossip about her, like she got her education in a foreign country and is not good enough to become a doctor here, so she ended up doing monitor job. She is actually a senior CRA for early phase clinical trial.

She reminds me of a friend of mine who got her education and work experience back in China, came over, took the needed courses and passed all the exams to become an MD, but couldn’t find residency in three years. Last time I heard from her, she is a medical monitor for a clinic trial.

While I feel sad for people like this monitor and my friend, I can also identify with them in that both of us are over-educated for our position, which, in a way, is a waste of time and life. This is something I hope my children can avoid in their lives.

You do not really need a PhD unless you go to the world of academia.



Summer programs, activities benefit the children


I am so glad that my daughter had a wonderful time at CM in Pittsburgh. The more I talk with her, the more I am convinced of the benefits of summer program or activities on the children.

If it is financially affordable, high school students should participate summer camp or summer program or any summer activities away from home out of town.

It is an opportunity for the teenagers to learn to be independent, adapting to a new environment, dealing with and interacting with strangers. Kids become mature faster in this out in the world experience.

I was not surprised to learn from my daughter that there were plenty of Asian kids like her in this summer program, which meant Asian parents are more willing to invest in their children’s education. In fact, my daughter’s roommate was a girl from Xi’an, China. Of course, she met and made friend with many ABCs like her.



Education in China, a challenge to parents in America


On the 4th of July holiday, I read an article on BBC, “China: The world’s cleverest country?” by Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent.

The article talks about the remarkable achievements in education in China as demonstrated in the highly-influential Pisa tests, the Programme for International Student Assessment, held every three years by the OECD.

The test results in China showed the “resilience” of pupils to succeed despite tough backgrounds – and the “high levels of equity” between rich and poor pupils.

It also shows strong commitment and investment individually and collectively in education, “investing in its future, rather than in current consumption.”

Asked about success, “In China, more than nine out of 10 children tell you: ‘It depends on the effort I invest and I can succeed if I study hard'” instead of luck or aptitude as we often hear in Western countries.

“They take on responsibility. They can overcome obstacles and say ‘I’m the owner of my own success’, rather than blaming it on the system,” as most low performers in America do.

“Education is a field dominated by beliefs and traditions, it’s inward looking. As a system you can find all kinds of excuses and explanations for not succeeding.” “It’s a terrible thing to take away the global perspective.”

On the question about “the rising stars in Asia, Mr Schleicher says it’s a philosophical difference – expecting all pupils to make the grade, rather than a “sorting mechanism” to find a chosen few.



Participation is success: an erroneous claim


My daughter and I talked about it on 5/30. We both have heard of this and have watched how some parents clapped their hands for their children’s effort, like throwing a basketball even though it did not get into the hoop or playing a game even though their team did not win.

I told my daughter if you participate, make every effort to win. Don’t participate for the sake of participation.

After all, the purpose of competition is to filter out the losers and those who make greatest efforts can win. It doesn’t give you a good feeling if you always watch others claim the trophies. In the long run, participating without ever winning anything will hurt the self-esteem of this participant.



Entitlement Mentality among some Children


This is especially true with today’s children in China. Children with this mentality believe they are entitled to this or that from their parents. It is their parents’ responsibility to support them even after they become adult or graduate from college.

They become upset or frustrated or even mad easily if their wants or desires are denied by their parents. They also tend to have a hard time to delay gratification, having underdeveloped coping skills. To make them happy, they need to have it when they want it.

To be sure, with one child per family in China, parents can put all their money on this one child’s education. That is, if they have the ability and are willing to. By no means do they have to, especially after their child has graduated from college. Of course, by no means does this give the adult children the excuse to rely on their aging parents.

Like the entitlement programs in America, this entitlement mentality, more often than not, tends to yield undesirable consequences.



Hard Work will Pay off


Today is my sister’s birthday. I talked to her a few day before. She is always busy as she devotes all her non-working hours to her son’s education.

To be sure, her son is not as smart as she wishes. But given her guidance and persistent effort, he is very much up to the grade, which really proves hard work can make up to certain extent.

I told my sister of two things that have helped her son. (1) He listens to her and does what she asks. This is a huge help. (2) He knows working hard is the only way for him to get ahead, so he has been putting strong efforts at his study and has seen the fruitful result of his diligence.

Hard work will pay off for everybody.
Happy birthday to my sister!



Time to Remove No Child Left Behind Act


Make no mistake here. No child left behind is a very lofty idea and very enlightening, too. But if the government metes out punishment on the schools and teachers whose students fail in state math and reading tests, this policy is no longer laudable.

The real danger of punishing teachers for students’ failure on tests come when teachers, for fear of losing their jobs, focus their time and energy on testing preparation instead of on learning. This reminds me so much of the practice in China. The end result is generating a bunch of students who are experts in taking tests but are weak in various ability.

Schools are important, but ultimately they are important only in the sense that they are to prepare students for the time when students no longer need school.



We have more time, energy and better memory when we were young


Last Saturday morning I sent my daughter to a school competition at JCCC at 7:30 AM and then came back home, got ready for library’s tax service at 9 AM. I did not get back until after 3 PM. Thus the whole morning was gone without my usual morning exercise.

Toward evening, I walked to a neighborhood Walmart to make up for the missed morning exercise. I came back from the walk, feeling very tired, more so than normal morning walk or run.

After I came back, I told my daughter and asked her if she understand why I felt so tired. She said it was because I was already tired by the end of the day. On the other hand, I should not feel tired in the morning after a night’s rest and morning walk only serves to refresh me up.

Her words make me think of this. Isn’t it also true that in learning that it is easy for people to learn new stuffs when they are young. We have more time and energy and better memory during our younger years. Children are much better equipped for learning. It will be a huge waste if we don’t make the most of these so-called “Golden Time.”



Parental Guidance and Children Resistance


Criticizing your children’s work can be rather unpleasant to both you and your children. For some parents, they simply quit playing that role, for the peace of all. They’d rather spend some quality fun time with their children.

“Let the teacher do the job of giving criticism. Kids listen to their teachers,” said one parent. Actually, kids don’t rebel or act out their discontent to their teachers as they do to their parents.

Talks like this always bring to my mind memories of my father asking me to write book reports or movie reviews. The most disagreeable part is what happened after the first writing. To be sure, my father was never content with my first draft, much as I tried to please him. He always came up with suggestions and criticism and always asked me to revise it.

He insisted that the first paragraph was like a door which should tell readers what was inside the room. Next I should keep my promise by focusing on the topic mentioned in the first paragraph. If I jumped from one paragraph to another abruptly, he would show me how to glide through paragraphs seamlessly with the proper connection.

It is amazing that I still remember all these, even if, as you can imagine, I resented doing any of those extra work at that time. Again, looking back, we must admit that parents always try to do the right thing for the children in the long run, even though it is unpleasant at the moment.



Be Your Child’s Role Model, So We Were Told


During the last weekend of last month, I told my daughter to find her own role model in life so that she has a better chance of staying on the right track in life. Not that I have doubt in her ability to keep doing the right thing but I want her to keep doing it no matter what happens.

I often talked to her about some famous people, hoping she could find something inspiring, but that day I was surprised that she told me I was her role model and so was her brother. That was a compliment. “Because you have your goal and have never given up,” she said. I guess there are more than that.

I am glad to learn this because it is not an easy task to be a role model to a teenage child. As children move into teenage years, we not only face cultural and generation gaps, but also are further challenged by the rebellious spirit of the youngsters. When the children see you as their role model, it means they accept you and the values you represent. What a delight when that happens!



Accelerated Program for Advanced Students


Last month we had a new doctor working at our clinic. She has a Chinese last name and physical features but not from China. I shared with my daughter my impression about this doctor. She is either very smart or very hardworking. Normally it takes 8 years of education, 4 years undergraduate plus 4 years medical school. She completed it all in 6 years in an accelerated 2 plus 4 BS/MD program. After that, she had 3 years of residence and 3 years of fellowship in her specialty. She looks like in her 20s.

You have to be really excellent in order to be accepted into any accelerated program. And you have to apply for this program. When my daughter was in elementary school, she was advanced in reading and math. She was reading 12-grade level books when she was a second grader. I should have done something like getting her into an accelerated program, but I don’t think neither I or her teacher had done anything to keep her challenged.

The teacher was following “No child left behind” policy. I should not count on her teacher to provide enough intellectual nutrients. I am sure things would be different if we had done something during her elementary school years.



In America Children Have Too Many No School Days


Today is Martin Luther King day. No school today. Our office also closes for the day.

Children’s attitude toward no-school day is a sign of their growing up and become mature. I remember my daughter used to be excited about any no-school days. She even expected a lot of bad weather days so that there would be more no-school days.

To her, it meant no homework, nothing but play. Even after I told her to work on some long-term projects during these no-school days, she still expected no school days somewhat to be relaxing, insisting no-school meant no work. Thank goodness, she has outgrown this attitude, a sign of being mature and responsible.

I used to complain a lot about American kids having too many no-school play days. I still think so. But then, if teachers leave children to the parents, it is up to the parents to make most of these idle days. After all these years of dealing with teachers and schools here, I have come to this conclusion: for your child’s education and his future, you really cannot count on any schools or teachers.



Grade, Hope and A Second Chance, A Teacher is more than a Teacher


When I was a teacher, I knew I was not just lashing out grades to my students. I thought of long-term percussion of my grading, knowing a bad grade would follow my students for all their lives. Some students never came to me, asking for a second chance. But for those who did, I knew they cared and I never refused them.

I talked to them, making them understand that I could give them a second chance but in real life they might not have the luck to meet people who are willing to give them this second chance, therefore they might end up having a bad mark in their record for all their lives.

I might not be a good teacher but in the long run, when students look back and reflect upon this, they will learn a lesson, heavier than a grade. I knew I was working with young people and they have a long way to go in their lives. Don’t we have the saying — “young and foolish”? I don’t want their youthful foolishness follow them all the way.

If a student thinks he were a loser because of a bad grade, he would give up trying and start heading downhill. What happens next is he will slip to the bottom faster than he has thought. I would do anything to prevent this downward movement.

The tragedy is not many teachers realize this downward triggering role that they can play in a student’s life.



Six Effective Study Skills


Early this year, my mother told me of these study skills over the internet. She asked me to share them with my children. I wrote it down on a piece of paper and found it lately.

I am not sure if I have posted it. I shared with my daughter who agreed to give it a try. I am sure people will benefit from this.

(1) Be focused in class–you always get more done by pure concentration.
(2) Train your memory–ability to retain knowledge.
(3) Enhance your reading comprehension
(4) Develop your writing skill
(5) Learn to take notes with images
(6) Learn to manage well study process



Don’t Bite Off More Than You Chew


On the evening of 4/1/2011, I talked with a friend of mine in China over the Skype. She told me of the experience of one Princeton student. An unpleasant one, to be sure.

For some reason, the girl alway dreamed of becoming a college professor of mathematics. Though she was admitted into Princeton University, she was toiling heavily all the way through her first three years.

Finally, on her final year, she broke down upon learning from one professor that she was not cut out for mathematics. In the end, though she managed to graduate from Princeton, she wasn’t able to land a job and to this date, is still unemployed and disoriented.

I was wondering if she could have fared better than this in her life journey if she had been better adviced before she headed for mathematics professor dream.



Not an April Fool’s Joke


On April 1 2011, a Friday noon, the manager of our team told us that she was going to resign in two weeks. I was a bit shocked at first, thinking she must be making an April Fool’s joke. But some of my colleagues opened my eyes to some facts which made me see that her leaving was out of necessity.

After KUMC purchases our company, the two research departments will naturally become one under one manager. While the one at KU has a PhD and MBA, our manager has a Bachelor. Our manager might be squeezed out after KU buyout, even though she is also very capable and experienced. Hence, she left on her own before she was told to.

To me, this emphasizes the importance of one’s education in the long run. If you plan to climb up to a higher level of management, very often higher than a bachelor degree makes big difference.



Guidance that Parents Can Provide to the Children


On the way back home from school on 5/17, I asked my daughter if she felt superior in one sense. At first she couldn’t understand. I explained that not many parents can share their wisdom and their life’s experience as much as I do with you. Not many parents are in the position to give advice and provide guidance to their children as I have done. Proper advice can help children avoid taking detours in their career path, so that they can go beyond the limitation of their age and lack of experience and advance ahead of their peers. That’s why high school provides school counselor and mentor. That’s why some Chinese Aunties ask me about their children’s education.

She agrees with my assessment, even though she thinks I have given myself more credit than I deserve. At least I have kept in mind children’s education all the time.

Children with proper parental guidance should be more mature and feeling superior to those without, unless they choose not to follow this guidance.



Great Expectations: Generation and Cultural Gap


Last Saturday evening, while chatting with my mother over the Skype, I mentioned children’s education should include a musical instrument and a sport event, the idea that I talked about in my 5/13 posting. I told my mother that education should aim at bringing out happy individual with knowledge and ability. A happy individual has a cheerful personality, strong character, and ability to stand on his own feet in society. I have paid attention to children’s personality, making sure they develop an open, positive and sunny personality– the main ingredients to personal happiness.

My mother said when we were little, they only made sure that we had food and clothes and books to read. Their only hope was we could find some job to support ourselves when we grew up. Great expectation! Really?

To be sure, my parenting of my children is vastly different from that of last generation’s. In fact, I have tried to align my expectation of my children with their expectation of themselves. It took me some time to explain this idea to my mother. Call it generation plus cultural gap.



Sport Participation, Musical Instrument and School Work


On 3/18, my son went to Europe with a few friends to enjoy his last college spring break. In the afternoon, I took my daughter to her skating lesson. There were many Chinese parents attending their children’s skating.

I told one parent that a child’s education was not complete without a musical instrument and a sport event. If school work challenges their brain, sport their body and the mastery of one musical instrument challenges both. On top of this, both sport and music contribute in their own way to building a strong character –perseverance, focus, goal-setting, and competitive spirit.

This parent told me that since her child started figure-skating, she became more open and self-confident. Sport has boosted up her self-esteem and brought a change in her personality. Isn’t that wonderful!



Where There Is a Will, There Is a Way


This is a true story of a colleague of mine, an individual as rare as giant pandas, that is, you really don’t have the chance to meet a person like her. Hence, I reached out to her, rendering her unreserved support.

She is a 30-year-old single mother of two, one 12-year-old, the other 5-year-old, full-time employee, recently awarded full-ride scholarship, one of only 10 people from across the U.S. selected out of about 12,000 applicants for full-ride scholarships to her chosen University under the Project Working Mom program.

With the scholarship, she will continue working on her bachelor degree and will go all the way to get her PhD. in psychology. Her dream started when she was in second year of high school. But it was delayed because of a baby when she was 18 and the need to make a living and support her two children. More than a decade has passed, yet she still holds tight to her dream.

Now she is more than ever determined to pursue her dream degree. She knows her road ahead will be full of hardships but she is resolved to let nothing stop her until she reaches her goal.



Great News about Piano Practice


On 10/30/2010, while my daughter was in her art lesson, I was reading a magazine Scientific American. We used to subscribe it when my son was in high school. There is an article in November 2010 issue, “Hearing the Music, Honing the Mind.” This reiterates the benefit of music in our brain. Below is the key point.

If you listen to your mother and practice piano for an hour in the afternoon, these music lessons can produce profound and lasting changes that enhance the general ability to learn.

“Assiduous instrument training from an early age can help the brain to process sounds better, making it easier to stay focused when absorbing other subjects, from literature to … calculus.

“The musically adept are better able to concentrate on a biological lesson despite the racket in the classroom… They can attend to several things at once in the mental scratch pad calling working memory, an essential skill in the era of multitasking…”

For this reason, I hope my children will keep up their piano or violin practice even after they are out of school.



Develop Your Own Philosophy of Life and Follow it Through


On 12/2/2010, my daughter asked me about Lynndie England. This prompted me to think about the importance of one’s philosophy of life.

Lynndie England is famous for her role in the infamous torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad during the occupation of Iraq. The pictures reveal without any doubt a perverted mind. It is ridiculous to hear her self-defense and her all-out efforts to whitewash herself of any wrongdoings.

In a May 11, 2004 interview with Denver CBS affiliate television station KCNC-TV, England reportedly said that she was ‘instructed by persons in higher ranks’ to commit the acts of abuse for psyop reasons, and that she should keep doing it, because it worked as intended. England noted that she felt “weird” when a commanding officer asked her to do such things as “stand there, give the thumbs up, and smile”. However, England felt that she was doing “nothing out of the ordinary”.

“England maintains that she was goaded into posing for the photographs by her then lover and more senior fellow soldier, Charles Graner. ‘They said in the trial that authority figures really intimidate me. I always aim to please.'”

Lynndie England’s experience emphasizes the importance of developing and following your own philosophy of life unwaveringly. This includes, among others, a clear sense of right and wrong, no matter what others say. Do the right thing always. If it is wrong either morally or legally or whatsoever, do not do it, no matter what, even if you are under the highest pressure. At the very least, always follow the golden rule of “Do-unto-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-unto-you.”

A single bad deed never fails to boomerang, even though good ones might disappear like nothing happens. Lynndie England could have avoided this scandal if she had a clear idea of her philosophy of life and a tiny bit of sense of right and wrong.



A Better Way of Learning


On 10/24/2010, my daughter complained of her European History teacher’s homework. Instead of putting out questions for students to work on, the teacher asked the students to create their own questions and then answer them.

Immediately, I see the advantage of this approach. It can actively engage students in learning, better than handing them questions. In order to do a good job, the students need to think critically and creatively. The students learn much more than the subject matter itself.

When I was teaching sociology courses back in 1993 till 1996, I created a list of questions and asked my students to seek answers while doing reading assignments. I thought it a better way than simply giving out reading assignments.

If I had a chance to teach these students again, I would do as this European History teacher did. If I had a chance to work with little children about their reading, I would try this method, too. Because it is such a superior method of teaching!

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