Education‎ > ‎

Issues with TJ and the general "race to nowhere"

https://justangelathings.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/i-have-a-problem-with-the-nations-1-high-school/


This article does ramble a bit, but I enjoyed reading it. I do feel it is sad that so many kids in our area feel pressured to "keep up with the Jones's".  It also makes me rethink whether my own kids should wish to apply to TJ.

Only a few kids in each class should be racing ahead in math. According to Rebecca G., 30% of the entering freshman class at TJ had already finished Algebra II. Are they all stellar mathletes? How well do they really understand the math they have learned and how well can they apply their math knowledge? How do they fare when the get to college level math at such a young age? How much tutoring do they need along the way?

As far as the cheating, that has been an eye opener for me.  Does it happen in all FCPS high schools? My 8th grader, who attends a TJ MS feeder, recently told me that kids do start asking questions about what "might be on a test" as soon as one period is over - she covers her ears so she won't hear - does that really help? (She made me promise not to tell the Principal before sharing that with me - would the school not be aware?) I also had no idea that students at TJ paid big $ to get research topics from Siemens.

Many parents come from countries or backgrounds where one has to grab whatever opportunity arises and it is the survival of the fittest. We all want our kids to do well and have  a better future. It is great for us to show them that hard work and good study skills are important. However, we need to keep their mental health as a priority and make sure they don't burn out at such a young age. We do also need to teach them that honesty and integrity are paramount - hopefully we reflect these values in how we lead our own lives.

_._,_.___

1/08/2017



Comments:


(@Fan)


I agree with the blog article and your message.

AND I agree this not a TJ problem, but a much broader culture problem! Yes, there are indeed some super genius kids, but those should be less than 0.1% of the population. But somehow it seems all of the sudden, the teenagers, or even younger kids, are curing the cancer and solving the hardest science/engineering problems, while those hard work real scientists who dedicated several generations effort seemed doing nothing...  I know this sounds irritating to some parents, but I also agree with the blog and my own kids that a large portion of the problem is parent-related.

As it comes to apply for TJ, I always say it should be the kids' decision/desire, not the parents'. You can give them guidance, motivations, and even pay for their prep class, if THEY want it. But why force them to do something they don't want??? My kids are graduating from TJ this year. TJ could be a "pressure cooker," but it can also be a great community, depending on how you see or handle it. I already wrote in a long ago message that I reluctantly paid a half priced two week summer TJ prep class for them. That  is all I have done. So I can honestly report that kids can get in and do well at TJ without extra prep or tutoring. If your kids are really into it, they can find like-minded peers and support at TJ. Let my kids do it again, given all they have known now, they would try TJ again without a question. Of course, while you get great opportunities at TJ, you also get tremendous competitions. To me, that is not a bad thing - soon or late, they have to face the real world. My son got into two outstanding free summer camps, which I would not say only TJ kids can get in, but TJ did give him that extra edge. The first 7 weeks camp let him have friends all over the world and taught him important leadership and service skills. That camp may have costed him to skip pre-calculus. But give him, and us, one hundred times the choice again, he will pick that camp over skipping one year math every time. The second 4 weeks camp let him have like-minded "nerdy" friends all over the country, and know he can do well with them. As it comes to college, maybe one of the days I can write something about it. As for now, my son has been deferred by his top-choice early action school. Of course that is a disappointment. But he has no bitterness. We know he has done and achieved all he could, excepting changing from being an Asian boy ;). Colleges my daughter likes are early decision ones. I am glad that she decided that no school deserves her "unconditional" binding love. So we are still in a wait-and-see situation. College is not their destiny, but the beginning of their adulthood. They will be fine no matter where they go. We are grateful for their experience and support they have had at TJ.

Just my 2 cents,




The Spider’s Bite


Jiang He


When I was in middle school, a poisonous spider bit my right hand. I ran to my mom for help -- but instead of taking me to a doctor, my mom set my hand on fire. 

After wrapping my hand with several layers of cotton, then soaking it in wine, she put a chopstick into my mouth, and ignited the cotton. Heat quickly penetrated the cotton and began to roast my hand. The searing pain made me want to scream, but the chopstick prevented it. All I could do was watch my hand burn - one minute, then two minutes –until mom put out the fire.



You see, the part of China I grew up in was a rural village, and at that time pre-industrial. When I was born, my village had no cars, no telephones, no electricity, not even running water. And we certainly didn’t have access to modern medical resources. There was no doctor my mother could bring me to see about my spider bite.

For those who study biology, you may have grasped the science behind my mom’s cure: heat deactivates proteins, and a spider’s venom is simply a form of protein. It’s cool how that folk remedy actually incorporates basic biochemistry, isn’t it?


But I am a PhD student in biochemistry at Harvard, I now know that better, less painful and less risky treatments existed. So I can’t help but ask myself, why I didn’t receive one at the time?

Fifteen years have passed since that incident. I am happy to report that my hand is fine. But this question lingers, and I continue to be troubled by the unequal distribution of scientific knowledge throughout the world. We have learned to edit the human genome and unlock many secrets of how cancer progresses. We can manipulate neuronal activity literally with the switch of a light. Each year brings more advances in biomedical research-exciting, transformative accomplishments.

Yet, despite the knowledge we have amassed, we haven’t been so successful in deploying it to where it’s needed most. According to the World Bank, twelve percent of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day. Malnutrition kills more than 3 million children annually. Three hundred million people are afflicted by malaria globally. All over the world, we constantly see these problems of poverty, illness, and lack of resources impeding the flow of scientific information. Lifesaving knowledge we take for granted in the modern world is often unavailable in these underdeveloped regions. And in far too many places, people are still essentially trying to cure a spider bite with fire.


While studying at Harvard, I saw how scientific knowledge can help others in simple, yet profound ways. The bird flu pandemic in the 2000s looked to my village like a spell cast by demons. Our folk medicine didn’t even have half-measures to offer. What’s more, farmers didn’t know the difference between common cold and flu; they didn’t understand that the flu was much more lethal than the common cold. Most people were also unaware that the virus could transmit across different species.

So when I realized that simple hygiene practices like separating different animal species could contain the spread of the disease, and that I could help make this knowledge available to my village, that was my first “Aha” moment as a budding scientist. But it was more than that: it was also a vital inflection point in my own ethical development, my own self-understanding as a member of the global community.

Harvard dares us to dream big, to aspire to change the world. Here on this Commencement Day, we are probably thinking of grand destinations and big adventures that await us. As for me, I am also thinking of the farmers in my village. My experience here reminds me how important it is for researchers to communicate our knowledge to those who need it. Because by using the science we already have, we could probably bring my village and thousands like it into the world you and I take for granted every day. And that’s an impact every one of us can make!

But the question is, will we make the effort or not? 

More than ever before, our society emphasizes science and innovation. But an equally important emphasis should be on distributing the knowledge we have to where it’s needed. Changing the world doesn’t mean that everyone has to find the next big thing. It can be as simple as becoming better communicators, and finding more creative ways to pass on the knowledge we have to people like my mom and the farmers in their local community. Our society also needs to recognize that the equal distribution of knowledge is a pivotal step of human development, and work to bring this into reality.


And if we do that, then perhaps a teenager in rural China who is bitten by a spider will not have to burn his hand, but will know to seek a doctor instead.



Source: http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s?__biz=MzIyMTM5ODU4Nw==&mid=2247483677&idx=3&sn=846c148a1a0ffe8c13352737fc98bc0b&scene=1&srcid=0526OyHLs4OfuYK4X46J6c4U&from=singlemessage&isappinstalled=0#wechat_redirect





首次登上哈佛毕业讲台的中国农村学子讲了啥?


在湖南农村长大、上大学才第一次进城的中国小伙何江,26日站在哈佛大学毕业典礼的讲台上,作为优秀毕业生代表发言,这相当于哈佛给予毕业生的最高荣誉。校方确认何江是第一位享此殊荣的中国大陆学生。


何江当日的演讲内容从个人故事讲起,谈及他在哈佛大学做的生物医学研究,以及如何将其研究成果向世界更多的地方传播。他用他的努力证明一个中国农村孩子到底能走多远。对于现在乡村流行的“寒门再难出贵子”之说,何江觉得无奈,“教育能够改变一个人的生活轨迹,把一个人从一个世界带到另一个不同的世界。”


曾用火疗治伤 盼改变知识地域分布  与史蒂芬·斯皮尔伯格同台演讲


“哈佛的教育教会我们学生敢于拥有自己的梦想,勇于立志改变世界。在毕业典礼这样一个特别的日子,我们在座的毕业生都会畅想我们未来的伟大征程和冒险。我在此刻不可避免地还会想到我的家乡。”


综合《哈佛杂志》、微信号“北美职通卡”报导,26日上午10时,何江在哈佛大学的毕业典礼演讲台上,发出了一个中国学子的声音。哈佛校方确认该校生物系博士毕业生何江是第一位享此殊荣的中国大陆学生。当日与他同台演讲的特邀嘉宾是导演史蒂芬·斯皮尔伯格。


他题为《蜘蛛咬伤轶事》的演讲从自己读初中时被一只毒蜘蛛咬伤右手的事讲起,那时母亲用火疗的方法治疗他的伤口。“在座的如果有生物背景的人,你们或许已经理解到了我妈妈使用的这个简单的治疗手段的基本原理:高热可以让蛋白质变性,而蜘蛛的毒液也是一种蛋白质……但是,作为哈佛大学生物化学的博士,我现在知道在我初中那个时候,已经有更好的,没有那么痛苦的,也没有那么有风险的治疗方法了。于是我便忍不住会问自己,为什么我在当时没有能够享用到这些更为先进的治疗方法呢?”


“我时不时会因为先进科技知识在世界上不同地区的不平等分布而困扰。”何江说。他进而谈及自己在哈佛大学做的生物医学研究,以及如何将他的研究成果向世界更多的地方传播。 “在哈佛读书期间,我有切身体会到先进的科技知识能够既简单又深远的帮助到社会上很多的人。本世纪初的时候,禽流感在亚洲多个国家肆虐。乡村的土医疗方法对这样一个疾病也是束手无策……在我意识??到这些知识背景,及简单的将受感染的不同物种隔离开来以减缓疾病传播,并决定将这些知识传递到我的村庄时,我的心里第一次有了一种作为未来科学家的使命感。但这种使命感不只停在知识层面,它也是我个人道德发展的重要转折点,我自我理解的作为国际社会一员的责任感。”


他最后谈到,“比以往任何时候都多,我们的社会强调科学和创新。但我们社会同样需要注意的一个重心是分配知识到那些真正需要的地方。改变世界并不意味着每个人都要做一个大突破。改变世界可以非常简单。它可以简单得变成作为世界不同地区的沟通者,并找出更多创造性的方法将知识传递给像我母亲或农民这样的群体。同时,改变世界也意味着我们的社会,作为一个整体,能够更清醒的认识到科技知识的更加均衡的分布,是人类社会发展的一个关键环节,而我们也能够一起奋斗将此目标变成现实。”


“华人在主流社会需发出更多声音”  亚裔学生的全面素质在学界得到认可


何江在毕业演讲中向世界展现了华生风采。侨报记者近日在哈佛大学对何江进行专访。何江来自于湖南农村,本科就读于中国科技大学生物系,随后在哈佛大学分子细胞生物系完成硕士博士学位。何江对生物医学乃至高科技领域都颇有了解,博士毕业后他将在麻省理工学院进行博士后研究,研究领域包括3D打印人体肝脏、疾病模拟、肝炎病毒、疟疾以及癌症早期检测方面。


何江作为哈佛历届毕业典礼上少有的理科代表学生,他认为他独特的理科视角与思考方式,及其曾在中国农村的成长经历是他最终在几万名竞争者中脱颖而出的原因。在采访中何江透露,他的演讲稿初稿在两周内完成后由评审团根据申请人资料以及演讲草稿进行海选,最终仅有十多人进入初赛,在经过两轮读稿后,仅有4人进入决赛。何江说:“我是抱着尝试的心态全力以赴,在决赛的巨大压力下接受了专业演讲老师的指导,没想到我的表现会备受青睐。”


在此前的采访中,何江期待他的演讲可以如同一杯陈年佳酿,听完之后引人思考,回味无穷。 “哈佛大学是一个文理并重学校,在这所有着各领域精英的校园内,我不断的反思教育带给了我什么,而我又有什么可以反馈给社会。”


何江认为华人在美国主流社会中需要发出更多声音。 “我希望通过我的成长与学习经历向世人传达那些发生在中国,却不为人所知的故事,让听众在了解哈佛教育的同时,也关注中国教育,给那些还在不停奋斗的学子们以希望和鼓励。”


何江周边的校友、好友都对这样一位充满正能量的学者有颇高的评价,何江的中国科技大学以及哈佛校友邹思睿说:“何江是我极少数欣赏的人之一,他真诚质朴积极向上,对这个世界充满好奇,朋友多但不功利,有文采亦有情怀,是难得的良师益友。”


《湖南日报》同时援引新泽西州医药代表梁山的话说,何江能在语言不通的陌生环境里站稳脚跟,在世界最顶尖的大学演讲台上发表演讲,受到美国华人的很大关注。定居德州的杨扬带着家里两个中学生观看了何江的演讲视频:“这对孩子们很有教育意义。”


据记者了解,华人社会视何江为华人之光,也证明了亚裔学生的全面素质在学界得到认可。哈佛毕业典礼一票难求,网络直播平台多达29.9万人次同时在线观看。事实上,这不是何江第一次获得一所大学毕业生的最高荣誉。何江曾经获得中国科学技术大学本科生最高荣誉奖——郭沫若奖学金,并作为获奖代表发言。大学期间,何江就树立了自己的职业目标,那就是要向中科大知名校友、华人科学巨匠、美国科学院双料院士庄小威学习。因此,他异常努力地做科学研究,盼望能在生物领域有一番自己的成就。


在大家印象里,“学霸”往往都是只学习,不与社会接触,但与大部分的学霸不同的是,何江却非常喜欢社交。按照他自己准确的说法应该是喜欢有针对性的社交,就是每次向别人提出问题前,一定要做好充分的调查,要不然就不去社交。


在大学期间,香港理工大学校长潘宗光曾经到科大进行交流讲座,何江听完讲座后,主动和潘校长交流,他的睿智和上进给潘校长留下了深刻印象。两人从此结成了远距离的师徒关系,一直保持着沟通交流。


凭借着优异的学习成绩,加上学校导师和香港理工大学校长潘宗光的推荐信,何江顺利地申请到了哈佛生物系的博士学位,并获得了全额奖学金。何江后来有幸在享誉世界的哈佛化学系庄小威实验室做博士研究,这一做就是5年。


何江坦言,哈佛最吸引他的地方是文理结合,充满创新的氛围。


何江很早就意识到,只搞科研不注重实践很难有出路,所以他经常去哈佛商学院听关于经济和商业的讲座。像在中科大一样,他还是一如既往地去拓展自己的人脉,向自己圈外的人学习。


一次偶然的机会,他去参加了世界著名经济史学家尼尔·弗格森的一个关于《经济全球化》的讲座。听完讲座后,何江大胆地去和他分享了自己对于全球化以及中国农村发展的看法。尼尔弗格森对这位与自己完全不在一个领域,却对经济全球化如此热情和有见地的学生产生了兴趣。当场,这位学者就问:“你这周三有时间吗?我想请你出来喝杯咖啡,我们好好聊聊这个话题。” 让何江没想到的是,吃饭当天,弗格森教授带去了好几位重量级教授,结果他们畅聊了4个小时。最后弗格森建议,你把你的故事写成一本书吧:从中国农村的变化来反映中国近30年的发展变化,因为你自己就是一个鲜活的例子。关于何江的故事太多太多,未来,这名中国学子还将走得更远……


“寒门能出贵子,教育能改变人生轨迹”


何江的故事在美国华人世界引起不小的波澜,他也用他的努力证明一个中国农村孩子到底能走多远。 “现在乡村逐渐流行读书无用论,认为寒门很难再出贵子。这样的观点让我觉得挺无奈的。”何江近日受访时表示,“教育能够改变一个人的生活轨迹,能够把一个人从一个世界带到另一个不同的世界。我希望我的成长经历,能给那些还在路上的农村学生一点鼓励,让他们看到坚持的希望。”


何江于1988年出生在湖南宁乡县坝塘镇停钟新村。新中国成立以后的第一代“留守儿童”就在那时诞生。虽然家里经济条件一般,但何江的父母却有个坚定的信念——不能为了打工挣钱,而让儿子成为“留守儿童”。


何江印象最深的,是睡前故事。无论白天农活儿干得多累、多苦,何江的父亲都会在睡前给两个儿子讲故事。上一页 1 23下一页分享此页面几乎所有的故事,都是一个主题——好好学习。 “我爸高中都没毕业,也不知道哪里找来那么多的中国传统故事。每天讲都讲不完。”何江上大学后,有一次问起父亲,哪里找来那么多睡前故事,父亲告诉他,很多故事都是自己瞎编的,目的只是想告诉孩子,只有读书才能有好的出路。


除了给儿子讲睡前故事,何江的父亲还严格要求两个孩子的学习。放学后,何家的两个儿子通常是被关在屋里“自习”,作业做完了,继续自习;而这个时候,大多数农村男孩都在田间地头玩耍。


“那时觉得爸爸很‘霸蛮’。但现在想想,这是农村环境下的最佳选择。”何江说。支撑何江保持学习兴趣的,是温和的母亲。父亲批评孩子学习不好时,母亲总会在一阵狂风暴雨后笑呵呵地跑过来,送上“和风细雨”。


在母亲那里,儿子总能找到自信。何江现在知道,母亲当年的做法,就和如今他所见到的美国人的做法一样——以鼓励孩子的方式,给予孩子最大的自信。


湖南农村的妇女,在农闲时通常喜欢聚集在一起唠家常。但何江的母亲更喜欢陪着两个儿子一起学习。因为不识字,她总是要求儿子把课本里的故事念给自己听,遇到听不懂的地方,她还会跟儿子讨论。


何江记得,自己喜欢给母亲“上课”。母亲的循循善诱与何江如今正在接触的美国文化有着异曲同工之妙。 “我刚来美国时很不习惯,不管提什么建议,导师都说可以试试看。”何江说,美国有一种“鼓励文化”,无论是诺贝尔奖得主,还是那些名字被印在教科书上的“牛人”,都会习惯性地给予学生鼓励。他们会在跟你一起啃汉堡、喝咖啡、泡酒吧时,时不时地鼓励你一番,让你觉得“前途不错”。


何江刚来哈佛时,曾因为语言问题焦虑不已。他初中才开始接触英语,操着一口“农村英语”上了县城的高中。那是他第一次从农村走进城里。


后来他硬着头皮,申请给哈佛的本科生当辅导员,“也不知道自己哪里来的勇气,反正就是想多讲讲英语”。从入学第二年开始,何江给哈佛的本科生做辅导员,这种方法让他的英语表达方式很快从“中式”转到了“美式”。到了读博士期间,何江就可以给哈佛本科学生上课了。


演讲全文《蜘蛛咬伤轶事》


在我读初中的时候,有一次,一只毒蜘蛛咬伤了我的右手。我问我妈妈该怎么处理——我妈妈并没有带我去看医生,而是决定用火疗的方法治疗我的伤口。


她在我的手上包了好几层棉花,棉花上喷洒了白酒,在我的嘴里放了一双筷子,然后打火点燃了棉花。热量逐渐渗透过棉花,开始炙烤我的右手。灼烧的疼痛让我忍不住想喊叫,可嘴里的筷子却让我发不出声来。我只能看着我的手被火烧着,一分钟,两分钟,直到妈妈熄灭了火苗。


你看,我在中国的农村长大,在那个时候,我的村庄还是一个类似前工业时代的传统村落。在我出生的时候,我的村子里面没有汽车,没有电话,没有电,甚至也没有自来水。我们自然不能轻易获得先进的现代医疗资源。那个时候也没有一个合适的医生可以来帮我处理蜘蛛咬伤的伤口。


在座的各位如果有生物背景,你们或许已经理解到了我妈妈使用的这个简单的治疗手段的基本原理:高热可以让蛋白质变性,而蜘蛛的毒液也是一种蛋白质。这样一种传统的土方法实际上有它一定的理论依据,想来也是挺有意思的。但是,作为哈佛大学生物化学的博士,我现在知道在我初中那个时候,已经有更好的,没有那么痛苦的,也没有那么有风险的治疗方法了。于是我忍不住问自己,为什么我在当时没有能够享用到这些更为先进的治疗方法呢?


蜘蛛咬伤的事已经过去大概15年了。我非常高兴地向在座的各位报告一下,我的手还是完好的。但是,我刚刚提到的这个问题这些年来一直留在我的脑海中,而我也时不时会因为先进科技知识在世界上不同地区的不平等分布而困扰。现如今,我们人类已经学会怎么进行人类基因编辑了,也研究清楚了很多个癌症发生发展的原因。我们甚至可以利用一束光来控制我们大脑内神经元的活动。每年生物医学的研究都会给我们带来不一样的突破和进步——其中有不少令人振奋,也极具革命颠覆性的成果。然而,尽管我们人类已经在科研上有了无数建树,但怎样把这些最前沿的科学研究带到世界最需要的地方,我们有时做得还不尽如人意。世界银行的数据显示,世界上大约有12%的人口每天的生活水平仍然低于2美元。营养不良每年导致300万名儿童死亡。将近3亿人口仍然受到疟疾的干扰。在世界各地,我们经常看到类似的由贫穷、疾病和自然匮乏导致科学知识传播受阻。现代社会里习以为常的那些救生常识经常在这些欠发达或不发达地区未能普及。于是,在世界上仍有很多地区,人们只能依赖于用火疗这一简单粗暴的方式来治疗蜘蛛咬伤。


在哈佛读书期间,我切身体会到先进的科技知识能够既简单又深远地帮助到社会上很多的人。本世纪初的时候,禽流感在亚洲多个国家肆虐。那个时候,村庄里的农民听到禽流感就像听到恶魔施咒一样,对其特别恐惧。乡村的土医疗方法对这样一个疾病也是束手无策。农民对于普通感冒和流感的区别并不是很清楚,他们并不懂得流感比普通感冒可能更加致命。而且,大部分人对于科学家所发现的流感病毒能够跨不同物种传播这一事实并不清楚。


于是,在我意识到这些知识背景,即简单地将受感染的不同物种隔离开来以减缓疾病传播,并决定将这些知识传递到我的村庄时,我的心里第一次有了一种作为未来科学家的使命感。但这种使命感不只停在知识层面,它也是我个人道德发展的重要转折点,我自己理解是作为国际社会一员的责任感。


哈佛的教育教会我们学生敢于拥有自己的梦想,勇于立志改变世界。在毕业典礼这样一个特别的日子,我们在座的毕业生都会畅想我们未来的伟大征程和冒险。对我而言,我在此刻不可避免地还会想到我的家乡。我成长的经历教会了我作为一名科学家,积极地将我们掌握的知识传递给那些有迫切需要的人是多么的重要。因为利用那些我们已经拥有的科技知识,我们能够轻而易举地帮助我的家乡,还有千千万万类似的村庄,让他们生活的世界变成一个我们现代社会看起来习以为常的场所,而这样一件事,是我们每一个毕业生力所能及可以做到的。


但问题是,我们愿意来做这样的努力吗?


相比以往任何时候,我们的社会都更强调科学和创新。但我们社会同样需要关注的一个重心是,将知识传递到那些真正需要的地方。改变世界并不意味着每个人都要做一个大突破。改变世界可以非常简单。它可以简单到成为世界不同地区的沟通者,找出更具创造性的方法,将知识传递给像我母亲和农民这样的群体。同时,改变世界也意味着我们的社会,作为一个整体,能够更清醒地认识到科技知识更加均衡的分布,是人类社会发展的一个关键环节,而我们也能够一起奋斗,将此目标变成现实。如果我们能够做到这些,将来有一天,一个在农村被毒蜘蛛咬伤的少年,或许不用火疗这样粗暴的方法来治疗伤口,而是去看医生以得到更为先进的医疗护理。



(From WeChat)


6/01/2016









Comments