Category Archives: Opinions

Grade-based Education System: Is it as motivating as we’d like to believe?

grades“You’re an Alpha and I’m an Epsilon,” he said in a defeated tone, “it’s that simple.”

“Why would you say that?” I replied confused as to why he’d reference the Brave New World caste system at a time like this.

“The reason is because it’s true; I’m always sub-par to you. I always get B’s and C’s even when I try, why is that?” he replied with aggravation in his tone.

I thought about this question for long after the incident itself has occurred.  What seemed like a normal day in my French 3 class has turned into a festered pot of jealousy that was dividing a good friend and I.  This jealousy was fueled by competition that I couldn’t help but wonder if education was to blame for.  I tend to be a strong academic student and he tends to have a bit more of a struggle.  He’s extroverted and outspoken.  I’m quiet and often too shy at times.  What could I say to him?  I didn’t know why he got B’s and below while I obtained A’s on most school assignments.

“Is intelligence a natural-born gift?  I mean, I try to surround myself with smart people and I think that it may help but it never does,” he asked in a concerned voice.  I remained silent—after all I was the one who “didn’t understand” what it was like to struggle in school.  “You’re so lucky, you have a high GPA and can get into any college you want when you’re older, you don’t worry like I do” he said very assured by his comment.  However, what he didn’t understand was that I faced the same worries; the “validation” of an A didn’t secure how I felt about my own work ability much less my intellectual competency.  I replied after some though in the most honest yet respectful way I knew how, “I don’t think it’s either or, I think intelligence is something we all have but it comes in a spectrum like everything else around us. Yet it doesn’t mean one can’t work to improve what they don’t like about how they perform, it’s one’s job to work towards improvement”. Continue reading

Earn $150 and service learning for telling YOUR story!

YESYOUTH

RACIAL

EQUITY

PROJECT

SEATTLE

 OPEN TO YOUTH AGES 14-19

  • learn how to talk about race & racism
  • tell YOUR story
  • build a social justice community
  • gain leadership skills & new perspectives

WHEN

  • Start : February 23, 2015
  • End : May 23, 2015
  • Mondays + Wednesdays, 4:00-6:00 PM

WHERE

Application Deadline is FEB 13, 2015.

For more details, check out the linked flyer!

Check out our new poll! Which character has what it takes to survive The Hunger Games?

the-hunger-games-symbols_19218_The teens from Greenwood TAB have a new question for you.

Which of the following characters, from other books, would last the longest in the hunger games?

Personally, my money is on Stevens, but tell us what you think!  Maybe there’s someone we didn’t think of?  Let us know in the comments…I’m wondering, can I vote for Russell Wilson?  🙂

A Rant about Dance Books

PointeIn the interest of full disclosure, I meant to write about Pointe, the first novel of Brandy Colbert.

However, I quickly realized that everything I was writing became a dance book rant, so I gave up and decided to (officially) write about the challenges of finding a good dance book for someone over the age of 10.

See, generally they fall into one of the several categories below:

1) The Children’s Book.  There is nothing wrong with this form, per se, but there are two ways this book can go: the instruction manual (which is always oversimplified and often inaccurate); and the dance story in which everything is hunky-dory. The characters are always full of promise, dance all the time, and never get injured (I’m looking at you, Ballet Shoes). I understand that no one wants to scare children, or kill their dreams, but this just isn’t reality.

2) The Book Where the Author Has No Clue What They Are Writing About.  We’ve all heard the saying “write what you know.”  Unfortunately, many authors completely forget about this when it comes to writing dance novels. I recently read Withering Tights by Louise Rennison, which I started because the main character was an Irish dancer.  However, I soon realized that Rennison had not done her research: she called one of the moves “twisty ankle things.”  Not only would no self-respecting Irish dancer describe a move like that, but it is not descriptive.  There are so many moves Rennison could mean:

As you can tell, all these moves are very different and all could be described as “twisty ankle things.”

3) The Author Has Actually Done Research And Still Doesn’t Get It.  Even if the author has learned about dance, and really has done their best, it doesn’t mean they can describe dance.  I do understand this: I’ve been dancing for years, and I often cannot describe the sensation of dancing—partly because it may change on a day-to-day basis, but mostly because I can’t really explain to non-dancers how it feels.  Even so, why would one try to write about something they can’t describe?

However, there are a few beacons of hope for people looking for good dance books.  The first is On Pointe, by Lorie Ann Grover.  This is the story of a young dancer forced into early retirement when she grows too tall to dance, and is written in verse.  The second is I Was A Dancer by Jacques D’Amboise, a lovely (if not always perfectly written) memoir.  Finally, try Bunheads by Sophie Flack.  Each of these explains what if feels like to dance, and I’ve re-read these several times.  Happy dancing!

–Emma, Greenwood Teen Adviser

GWD

…most professional writers suffer from impostor syndrome…

impostor syndromeA person with impostor syndrome would be writing this blog post the night before it was due.  Oh wait, that’s me.  You may be thinking, what is impostor syndrome?  Well allow me to shed some light on the subject. It is defined as “…a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in face of information that indicates that the opposite is true.  It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence” (The Impostor Syndrome).  When you read that definition you may realize that you knew what it was all along, you didn’t have a name for it.

For me, the tendency seems to be that I will do everything possible to avoid having to sit down and actually tackle a writing assignment.  Not because of laziness, but because of fear.  The unending fear that my work will never be good enough.  Which along with my intense perfectionism and self-doubt impair me from being able to simply sit down and write.  But eventually, it becomes midnight and I have to face the fact that it is time to write, because if I don’t I will have nothing to turn in.  As feelings of uncertainty fill my body, I nervously start to type out an opening sentence.  Then I usually erase what I have written a few dozen times before I find something that I can live with.  Once I get into the groove of the piece, I love writing.  But once I am out of that completely focused imagination zone, the fears and insecurities start screaming at me again.  As hard as it is for me to admit, I’m a pretty good student.  I usually get A’s in my classes and turn my work in on time.  Yet, I never feel like I am doing enough. I also feel like one day someone is going to find out that I have just been getting by on luck. Continue reading

Mockingjay Part 1: Book-to-Movie Adaptation Review (Spoiler-Free Until Mentioned)

MockingjayAdaptation Rating: 9.5 out of 10 stars

Overview of What I Was Thinking Going In:
I must say, preemptively, that I did not enjoy the book Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. I thought that though Katniss’s depression and unwillingness to interact with many people was entirely realistic and in character, it made for a very boring point of view for the story to be told in. That problem started setting in around Catching Fire and just kept getting worse as the books went on. It was so frustrating for me to read such an epic conclusion to a series in such a narrow point of view. I hoped that the movie would remedy this problem since the other two movies thus far were told in a third person omniscient perspective, showing us what’s going on in the Capitol while Katniss is going through everything. I was so spectacularly right.

What I Thought Was Done Best:
The way the movie cuts between Katniss and what she’s doing and the riots that start up in other districts is amazing.  It feels so seamless and fitting that I don’t understand how it could have been done any other way.  The scene where Katniss sings The Hanging Tree, a long-awaited moment for many of the book readers, was my favorite scene by far.  It shows how directly Katniss’s actions impact the people in the districts and gives an amazing action scene to boot.

Common Criticism:
One of the main criticisms that people had with this movie was that “it’s just set-up for the next one.”  And you know what?  They’re right.  The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were build-up to this one too.  Does that mean it’s not a good movie?  Heck no!  Mockingjay Part 1 has its own story arc of exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution just like any other movie.  Is it a bunch of kids fighting to the death?  No.  But this movie definitely has the most impactful action of any of the three movies out so far.  The movie ends a bit after what book readers call “The Rescue,” so most of the buildup is to that event.  For book readers like me, this event is a very big deal.  However, I can understand how people expecting the epic ending of a final installment would be disappointed with how much of the “let’s take over the government” goal is accomplished.  It’s worth watching anyway, trust me.

Things to Note Going Into the Movie:
If you are sensitive to strobe lights, close your eyes when people start running down a triangular staircase. It’s safe to look back once the “blast doors” are closed; it’ll be announced. It would be a shame to have your time watching such a great movie ruined by a splitting headache or worse. Please take the precautions necessary to keep yourself safe.

The movie jumps right in where Catching Fire ended. There are a lot of small gestures and references to it that aren’t re-explained for people who have forgotten such things. I recommend re-watching or reading Catching Fire before going to see this new masterpiece. Luckily, both the book and the movie are available through the Seattle Public Library!

My Favorite Scenes (SPOILERS START HERE): Continue reading

Writing at School: Is it Really a Nuisance?

writing_a_letterI love writing.  All kinds of writing, from poetry to science fiction.  And I know there are many people out there that share this passion, but this number may be slowly decreasing.  Teachers teach it without emotion, making it seem a lot more like an annoying pest than an exciting new way to use your imagination and creativity, the bland teaching method prevents kids from trying to exercise their creativity, and makes deep thinking much harder to reach.

At high school orientations, I hear lots about choir, theater, band.  But I don’t hear a single word uttered about writing classes or clubs (with the exception of a couple of schools).  Aren’t those important?

Without writing, who would write all those really good books that you’re reading, or magazines, newspapers, and reviews? There would be no libraries, since there are no books to read. Without writing, what would be point of the alphabet?  Continue reading