Thursday, May 08, 2014

Dedicated student

'I think I'll just do some swotting while I wait for the ambulance': Chinese student learns 107 English words after she is knocked off her scooter

When it comes to being determined, one particular Chinese student takes some beating.

Despite suffering painful injuries in a road accident in China's capital Beijing, Wang Dafan wasted no precious time while waiting for medics to arrive.

‘We couldn't believe it when we got there,’ said a police spokesman. ‘She was obviously in pain but she was using an electronic dictionary to memorise English words for her university lessons.

‘She said the accident had reminded her life was too short, and education too important, to waste time on worrying about other things.’

The 18-year-old girl was knocked off her bike by a car as she was on her way to a tutorial.

Having checked out that she was not seriously injured, she reached into her bag for the electronic gizmo while still sprawled on the ground, and set about learning 107 new English words in the time it took for an ambulance to arrive to treat injuries to her legs, head and arms.

Wang, a bright spark who has won lots of scholarships and academic prizes in her time, said: ‘I was in pain but the study kept my mind off feeling hurt. I think that we are all on this earth for such a short time that we owe it to our family, friends and each others to become the best that we can be and you can only do this if you are educated.

‘I found that studying the English words was a great help and soothed my pain.’

She is currently a student at Capital Normal University in Beijing and hopes to continue her studies at Oxford or Cambridge in the future and plans for a career in academia.


Kennedy School Students Call for Training To Combat Privilege in Classroom

Communist re-education camps live again!  At Harvard.  Harvard's totalitarian tendencies go way back.  They were hospitable to Nazis in the 1930s

Students at the Kennedy School of Government gathered in the school’s courtyard on Friday for a “moment of solidarity” in support of a movement lobbying the school’s administration to create a mandatory orientation program to help incoming students and faculty better recognize and address race and gender in the classroom.

The movement, called HKS Speaks Out, began in October after students expressed having “really negative classroom experiences,” according to Reetu D. Mody, a first year Master in Public Policy student and an organizer of the movement. She said the group has amassed about 300 student signatures, or about a fourth of the school’s student population, on a petition that calls for mandatory privilege and power training.

At Friday’s event, about 80 students participated in an exercise to visualize the differences in privilege created by race and gender. The students began in a single line, but as students were asked to step forward or backward based on questions about the social repercussions of their socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and sexual identities, the line became disjointed.

Mody said that she felt the event brought the students together to share their varying backgrounds and, in doing so, demonstrated the need for greater training on the issue.

In response to the movement, the school’s diversity committee met with the group’s organizers to hear their concerns, Kennedy School spokesman Doug Gavel wrote in an email, adding that these discussions “have been extremely productive and constructive.”

Additionally, Melodie Jackson, senior associate dean for degree programs and student affairs, “has committed to integrating diversity training into student orientation and the school is currently exploring a variety of different training options,” Gavel wrote.

Mody organized “speak out” sessions last fall after being disappointed by classes that “didn’t really address race at all” when considering systemic policy issues. The sessions allowed Mody's fellow classmates to discuss their frustrations freely; the first session drew about 80 of her peers, she said.

At the sessions, many students expressed that the power dynamics in the classroom hurt their experience and limited their education, according to Mody.

“To have these discussions where we are not being challenged is very detrimental to our ability to be thoughtful policy makers,” Mody said. “Coming here and not getting an education to support that has been really difficult.”

Out of these community conversations, the group decided that students and faculty needed to have a better understanding of “race, gender, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, ability, religion, international status, and power differentials,” prior to entering classroom discussions, according to the movement’s open letter to the Kennedy School community.

“You can either go to a diversity talk, or you can go play soccer–that was our orientation.” Mody said, of last year’s orientation.

For Michelle A. Millar, a first year student at the Kennedy School, the status quo limits the amount of unique voices in the classroom.

“We just can’t learn when we are only hearing from one side,” Millar said. “It’s hard to get that perspective if our professors aren’t trained to…make [classrooms] a safe place.”


Parent Arrested After Complaining of Explicit Sex in Schoolbook

A New Hampshire parent was arrested Monday night at a school board meeting after complaining to officials about a book sent home with his 14-year-old daughter that contained graphic sexual content.

The book in question, "Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Picoult, was given to ninth-grade students in Gilford, N.H., to read. School officials say the book has important themes related to a school shooting. It also contains a graphic sexual encounter between two teenagers.

The book had been given to students in the past, but a letter to parents ahead of time was always mailed out. No letter was sent this year because of an apparent oversight, station WCVB reports.

William Baer said he discovered the passage when his daughter brought the book home. On Monday, he and other parents vented to officials at a school board meeting about the situation.

When another parent made the point that the letter should have gone home, Baer said, "This is absurd. This is ridiculous."

"Nobody's talking about censoring the book, nobody's talking about banning the book or burning the book or anything," Baer said.

A member of the school board responded, "Would you please be respectful of the other people?"

"Like you're respectful to my daughter, right? And my children?" Baer said.

A police officer then appeared next to Baer and asked him to leave or he would be arrested. When Baer refused to leave, the officer placed a hand on his arm, guided him out of the room, and arrested him on a charge of disorderly conduct.

Baer was in violation of a two-minute rule that officials imposed so every parent at the meeting would be able to speak.

"It was basically, you make a statement, say what you want and sit down," Baer told WMUR-TV. "Sit down and shut up, basically, and that's not how you interact with adults."

Other parents voiced their support of Baer.  "I am utterly appalled that this was an oversight, that my son had this book in his hand for a week. [It's] unacceptable," Sarah Carrigan told WCVB.

"I fully understand how he feels. It really is a huge violation," Baer's wife, Barbara, said in the WCVB story. "Why should those ideas be put in their mind? They can discuss this some other way. They don't need that kind of imagery."

Baer said he was shocked when he read the passage.  "I've never read anything like this," he told WMUR. "It's like the transcript for a triple-X-rated movie."

The school board released a statement after the meeting:

"The board apologizes for the discomfort of those impacted and for the failure of the school district to send home prior notice of assignment of the novel . . . The district will take immediate action to revise these policies," the statement reads, according to WMUR.


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