Future

So, as some of you may or may not know, I plan to be a teacher in the future.  This is slightly ironic because I know very well when I started senior year that I was sure there is no way I would ever want to be a teacher.  So what happened, you may ask (well you probably don’t, this is an interent blog.) but since this is an internet blog I’m going to tell you anyways.

There are essentially two reasons for this.

1.  There is no better way to learn.

Have you ever tried to teach somebody something?  I’m sure you have.  Did you understand it well?  If you didn’t you probably had a hard time.  But if you did, you probably had a reasonable time explaining it.  It’s so much easier to explain something if you know it well.  And in order to be able to teach it, you need to know it.  Redundant like 20 times, I know.  But I want to know everything.  So what better way to learn it than to teach it?  This is a huge motivator for me.  Half the rason I did awesome in AP Physics was becuase I helped everybody with their online homework.  Lemme tell a story, in fact.

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Once upon a time, we had an online assignment that was 30 questions long and not trivial.  Not overly hard, but around the test level.  It was also on a topic we had never seen before, rotation.  So, somebody set up an irc channel for our AP Physics class, set a good mibbit link up, and told people to check it out that night.  That night, I went from being able to solve the problems to truly understanding them.  It sounds trivial, but this is rather important to me, because I am not happy with just being able to solve something, I want to be able to understand it.  I did extremely well that unit and still consider my understanding of that topic to be quite good because of this.

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Short anecdotes are fun, expect a few more.  Anyways, as you can see, I understand things when I teach them.  So I always try to help my classmates when they have trouble.

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2. Even more significantly, there is one certain feeling that I want to spread.  It’s very difficult to fully express, but whenever I understand something I’ve been struggling with, I make a face (I can’t help it!) which I call my “I understood it!” face and it’s just this feeling that is so good.  Like the feeling of understanding.  I don’t just want to spread this feeling to other people.  That isn’t good enough.  I need to.  I need to make other people feel the same way.  I need to make other people get that feeling where they truly understand something and feel like they are better in some way because of it.  Becuase when you understand something, you truly have improved something about yourself.  In fact, to quote a presentation for an award given to me:

“It has been my pleasure to watch Ben learn.  We rarely speak of learning as a spectator sport, but those of us here who are either parents or teachers (or both) undertand just how much fun it actually is to see the light bulbs turn on”

This is how I feel.  I want to make somebody feel the same way I do whenever I understand something.  Let’s see, I can probably pull a few examples.

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Ever use facebook chat to explain a mathematical equation?  It’s not easy!  Even there though, I was trying to help somebody with some of their assignments.  And every question, I would start with where they got to, and worked from there.  And every time, before I finished the problem, there was a wonderful response of “OH!”  At that point, I knew they had that feeling, and it clicked, and they understood.  This makes me so happy to know that I can pass this on to somebody.  I feel like I am doing good to the world this way, in the way I can do it best.

An example of my own would probably be whenever I went in after physics to make sure I really understood a concept.  It was pretty silly, because every time I would go in, I’d ask the teacher “I don’t really understand this, do you think you could help me?”  And they’d ask what I know, and I’d start from there.  And it always really made me mad because I would freaking go through what I get and suddenly I’d go “Oh” and understand the rest.  Every time!  Argh, it bothered me that I would only get it when I went out of my way to have somebody help me!  Agh!  And it still felt so nice to understand and I probably made the “I understood it!” face and everything!  I can’t help it!  Agh!  Amusingly this is the same teacher who wrote that quote.  Maybe that’s why he wrote it.

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So yeah.  One day, I will be at some school or college trying to spread the joy of learning to others, because even if I know I am insane, I love learning, and I want to make everybody love learning.

Okay, I’m bored, I’ll write about another topic.  This is probably going to sound a lot like me bragging and I would really like it if you try not to think of it like that, but it will sound like that and I intend for it to sound that way as well.

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High school has always been good to me.  On our math team, I have always been a member on the actual team rather than an alternate, whose score doesn’t actually count.  This was minimum effort though, and though I tended to lead my class in points, it was never by much, and every time I would look back and think “I could have solved that problem.”  It wasn’t bad though, I dealt with it.  My grades were okay, mostly A’s a few B’s, twice I got a C.  I didn’t put much effort into much, but I got decent results.  I felt I got what I deserved.  But I had a problem.  My sister was very very smart too.  And in fact, I could count on one hand the number of tests I had beaten her on.  This is a problem.  At some point it turned out I got a 36 on my ACT like her, but I just thought of this as “oh, I did as well as my sister’ rather than “wow, I got a 36!”  Not good.

Somewhere around the middle of junior year, I had a rather serious (in my mind) personal conflict.  I realized I hated everybody.  Not everybody of course, but people who wasted my time in class, people who blared their horns on the street for fun, people who asked stupid questions in class, people who paid no attention to anything, and everybody in between..  This hurt.  I realized I hated everybody and rather than thinking that was right, I knew something was wrong with me, and I hated myself.  I spent all of Spring Break this way.  I detested myself and I had to deal wtih it.  It was horrible, and hard, and I couldn’t sleep and I felt horrible, I got sick and was running a small fever the entire time, and had a miserable break.  I don’t know if you know what it feels like to utterly hate yourself, maybe you have in the past, maybe you haven’t.  But it is horrible.  I got over it at some point.  I learned how to tolerate other people, and accept that just because I think something is right and wrong, it doesn’t mean I am right.  Personal growth is fun.  I feel like a better person now, and like myself more.

Senior year rolled around.  Math team went okay, science olympiad was okay, and I was doing okay in AP Physics.  One day, I took the AMATYC round one test.  AMATYC is a small math competition  of two year colleges.  My sister had done extremely well on this, and placed second in the midwest for females.  I didn’t do well.  For a bit I was mad at myself.  This was around fall though.  And one day, I was out raking leaves and I decided I was goddamned tired of not putting effort into anything.  And I was goddamned tired of comparing myself to other people.  It was doing nothing but hurting me and I was sick of it and done with it.  So I finish raking leaves and go get on irc and it’s like a regular day.  No level up fanfare.  No anything!

But I started trying in school.  And I started working for math team, and everything else.  Eventually, I got somewhere.  I earned something that I had been working on getting for a very long time.  My teachers finally had, as far as I can tell, quite a bit of respect for what I had accomplished and what I did.  I felt good about myself, was doing well in school, doing well on tests, had the respect of my peers, and the respect of my teachers.  I was scoring highest in the class on my math class tests and in AP Physics.  My grades got so high that regular assignments actually hurt my grade.  It felt wonderful.  I had finally decided to show the world what I could do, and damnit I did it.  Another competition called WYSE rolls around, and I do the physics competition.  Place second in regionals, third in sectionals, don’t get to move on after that.  Somebody from the year before I knew quite well and used to compare myself to got to state when he did it.  And I didn’t care!  I had done really well, couldn’t see what I could have easily gotten right that I got wrong, and was happy!  It was amazing!  I did well! Yay!  For once in my life, I was doing the best I could and it was amazing.

It eventually got to a point where my math teacher would ask me to do questions for him in class to make sure he had the right answer.  If he got a different answer than me, he generally seemed to think he made a mistake rather than me.  Well, that didn’t normally happen and normally I just wasn’t clear in what I said and we had the same result, but you catch my drift.  it was almost embarassing, one day he arrived to class (it was an early morning class) and as usual I was early (I have issues with scheduling so I was early every day) and he started talking to another teacher who was there about how “you can always count on Ben” and calling me essentially perfect.  It’s kind of embarassing, but nobody can dislike praise like that.

What am I trying to say, I guess?  I guess I’m trying to say I earned that praise and I am damned proud of it.  And I am damned proud of how I turned my life around from where it was going.  If you hear good things about me in the future, assume I did great things.  If you don’t hear anything about me, I’m still doing great things, they’re just not great to the right people.  Enjoy.

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