Reading the stories of Cathy Davison in Chapter 3 and 4 in the book Now You See It: How the brain science of attention will transform the way we live, work, and learn is like I am reviewing my stories in the school, although I am from China, not America. However, Chinese students and American students sometimes might have similar or the same learning experiences.
Most students are always willing for entering great schools. With the degrees from great schools, students can have opportunities to get great jobs. In Chapter 3, the author mentions two ways for “young people who come to an elite private university”. “One way is to test to get into the best preschools so you can go the best private grammar schools so you can be admitted to the most elite boarding schools so you can be competitive at the Ivies or an elite school outside the Ivies like Stanford or Duke”. Another way is to get good grades in all courses through public schools. Generally, in order for good universities, students should study hard to get good grades for good schools before going to universities. In China, we only have one way for good universities. It is the college entrance exam. Getting high scores in that exam means you get the chance for good universities in China. However, with the huge number of students and a few good universities, going to the top universities in China is pretty hard. Students have to study hard to get higher scores. When a student enters elementary schools, the competition with over one million students begins. However there are about 200 top-level universities in China. When I was in elementary schools, all my classmates had classes out of school. These classes included writing, language classes, dancing, art, sports and so on. From grade one in the middle school, only a few were still taking these classes, which were nothing related to the classes in the school, but most students changed to take math, Chinese, English, geography, chemistry, physics or history—some of these classes were to help them review the courses and some additional classes for students to learn deeply. When I was in grade two in the middle school, I had to give up the drawing classes and begin to take classes related to courses in the school at weekends. So every day was like school day, but luckily, I could get eight-hour sleep every night. When I was in high school, I only have average six-hour sleep everyday. Except sleep and meals, the only thing I could do was studying. It was really a hard time, but I really did a lot of writing and practicing for thinking carefully and perfectly on the questions during that time. It was a hard time, but it was also a great experience that I can make everything. I can go on studying although it is difficult. During that time, technology was not helpful since we had textbooks that they were the only things I needed to focus on. I did not have time for playing, TV and computers. Instead, comparing to technology, communication played the main role. It helped us to understand the materials better due to the communication with teachers. As I mentioned it was a hard study time. Communication helped me to get less pressure from the study. Talking with parents and teachers, telling then what I was thinking about my study and my future or getting some good advises for my daily life and study were really helpful. During the communication, I feet like that time was not only a study time for good a university in the future, it was a training in my life to make me mentally stronger.
In Chapter 4, the author mentions that some students had some candid feedback for her. “They said everything about the course had been bold, new and exciting. Everything, that is, except grading.” I think it is not only for her class. I feel like all the courses are interesting to learn except grading. When I was in the middle school, my friends and I went to give some feedback to the teacher. One of them was to cancel grades. We thought we could be more interested in the courses and enjoy learning if there was no grade to judge us on this course. The teacher asked us, “How can I know if you learn well? I can do that if you do not want grades, but how can you know whether you guys will do well on the last big exam in your life—the college entrance exam.” We could not answer the teacher. We could not think without thinking about reality—the background of our real life. We could have no grades, but we could not cancel that exam due to the real situation in our country.
For this class, I think the boss-level challenge is find the way to express the ideas. It is not a fun thing since we will focus on serious topics. The process of combining ideas and media in a professional way to present is not that easy.