Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Happy Chinese New Year! The Chinese use the lunar calendar in addition to the solar calendar. According to the lunar calendar, the new year this year was on Feb. 3, which is the Year of the Rabbit. The twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac cycle every 12 years. Because every month in the lunar calendar has 30 days, and there are no months with 31 days, every 4 years the lunar calendar is corrected by repeating a month.

The Chinese keep track of their birthdays using both the solar and the lunar calendar; the older generations tend to celebrate such events according to the lunar calendar. In China, people get a week off for Chinese New Year. This is like Thanksgiving and Christmas combined, as most people in China get together with their family and extended family, to give presents and red packets with freshly printed money in them. New Year’s Eve is filled with the sound of firecrackers, which people set off until dawn on New Year’s Day. I remember years when I would open the door on New Year’s Day to see the ground covered by “snow” from the small pieces of paper from the firecrackers. On New Year’s day, people will pay visits to their friends and relatives and wish them a Happy New Year, which we call “Bai Nian” in Mandarin Chinese (the dominant dialect in mainland China). I want to wish all the members of goldstudent a Happy Chinese New Year.

I recently read an article from the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” by Amy Chua, a professor at Yale. It was an excerpt from a book she wrote recently. When I read the article, I was very intrigued. Being a Chinese mother myself, I am very aware of the Chinese and American culture and value differences. I don’t think Chinese mothers are superior, but they are certainly different.

In my opinion, Chua seems to do things to an extreme. She would not allow her daughters to have sleepovers or to perform in school plays (which I certainly allow and encourage). She set high expectations for her daughters, requiring that they play either piano or violin (there I admit that I have similar views). I also share in other expectations; I expect my children to get straight As. About 25% of the students graduating from my daughter’s junior high were straight A students. This means to me that even a straight A student is not at the very top, just in the top quartile. I want my children to play a music instrument, because I think it is good to appreciate music, and to have a way to express oneself musically in times of happiness, loneliness, or sadness. Both my children have been playing piano for more than five years. I use various techniques to get them to do things I think are good for them, ranging from rewards (such as offering cell phones and game consoles) to making them feel bad for not doing things (e.g. telling them that if they are not good in math, how would they be able to manage their own finances, or get a job with good pay).

Where I differ from Chua the most is that I think academic excellence is only one aspect of a child’s development, however important. I think emotional intelligence, interpersonal, social, and communication skills, the ability to work well in a group, to learn to lead and to learn to resolve conflicts, are just as important, if not more important, in terms of life skills. As a result, I encourage my children to play team sports. I don’t think there is a right or a wrong way to raise children. We are different as people, as parents, and there is no single story, nor should there be.

If you want to read the entire article by Chua, follow the link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html

Read Full Post »

Happy Holidays
Happy holidays! The first semester of school is coming to an end. Some of our students are preparing for end-semester exams, and we are getting ready for the holidays. This is a good time to relax and recharge, to reflect on the past and to plan for the future. We wish you all a happy holiday season!

Recently I had a chance to attend a meeting where I heard Salman Khan speak. He is the founder of Khan Academy. This is a website that offers many free educational videos, hosted on YouTube, covering a wide range of topics. These videos focus on teaching one concept at a time. I like the visual way of teaching. Check it out at www.khanacademy.org. These videos are good complement to the worksheets we provide at GoldStudent, which help children master a math concept.

Read Full Post »

A new school year has started. It happened way too soon for me and my family. Nevertheless, the new school year is here, with new schedules, new teachers, and new routines! My daughter, starting 10th grade, is taking calculus in zero period, which means the class starts at 7 am! Personally I think it is way too early to start a class for anyone, not to mention kids who still need more sleep to grow properly. I don’t remember ever having to take a class that early.

Watching my daughter move up in her math classes reminds me again how important it is to have a solid foundation. Without a strong foundation in arithmetic, fractions, algebra, exponentials, it is almost impossible to move on to functions, without which calculus and geometry is nearly impossible to learn. Once again, my husband and I are so glad that we helped our children build a strong math base from their elementary school days, those drills we did to prepare for math Superbowl. If you have kids still in elementary school, you may want to think of a way to do some regular math with your kids. The fruit of these efforts will show up years later and it is all worth it!

A big change in my family is that my niece from China came to live with us and will finish high school here. She is almost 16 and is attending a local private school. We were all very nervous about how she would manage the language and culture barrier. So far she is doing really well. In China, people think that American students have almost no homework, and that they can eat and drink in the classrooms. She was surprised to find that in fact American students have a fair amount of homework, and cannot eat or drink in the classroom. She was also surprised that the books here are so heavy, and that the students in high school have to move from one classroom to another. In China, high school students stay in the same room while the teachers change classrooms. She is happy, but surprised to find out that there appears to have less homework on weekends compared to weekdays, which is the opposite of what happens in the Chinese system, where teachers assign a lot of homework over the weekend because they think the students get two free days! Students in China cannot therefore take much time off to relax on the weekend. In the best case they get a half-day free, with the rest spent on homework or extra enhancement lessons.

Read Full Post »

The American educational system has been under quite a bit of pressure due to students lackluster math skills vs. other countries. This is an alarming state of affairs, and one that has far reaching implications for our children’s future. But who has the best educational system and how are the educational systems different?

There are many reports comparing the math skill performance of U.S. students in pre-high school and high school to the math skill performance of students in other countries, with U.S. students scoring significantly lower than in many other countries. For example, in 2004 the New York Times reported that high school students in Hong Kong, Finland and South Korea do best in mathematics among those in 40 surveyed countries, while students in the United States finished in the bottom half, according to a new international comparison of mathematical skills shown by 15-year-olds (NYT, Dec. 7, 2004).

Such reports also tie into recent falls in average math SAT scores, with the largest drop in math scores in 30 years reported by the Wall Street Journal in 2007 (WSJ, August 29, 2007).

But why do students in the U.S. have weaker math skills vs. students in other countries? And why do the math performance assessments of U.S. students continually fall short of students in other countries? Two key reasons are that students in other countries tend to follow math curricula that involve significantly more drilling of basic math operations, and also tend to use calculators much less in the classroom than do students in the U.S. ( Reassessing U.S. International Mathematics Performance: New Findings from the 2003 TIMSS and PISA, American Institutes for Research, November 2005).

Practice, practice, practice – and the ability to work through math problems without calculators – appear to be two critical criteria for U.S. students to achieve math success. But these two solutions are often out of the control of the American educational system to provide alone. How can student’s skills in the U.S. keep pace with the rest of the world? U.S. students need additional educational services to remain competitive in a global market.

GoldStudent has been designed in order to directly counter these disturbing trends and to assist the American educational system by providing supplemental assistance. GoldStudent emphasizes personalized and continuous practice drills (math worksheets) of basic math concepts for all students. Students are able to test their math skills through a series of math performance tasks that are personalized to their skill level. Throughout their studies with GoldStudent, students receive math performance assessments to track how they are progressing over time. At GoldStudent we also believe in performance based math, meaning that students are rewarded for their practice and their progress.

It is true that currently students in the U.S. have weaker math skills vs. students in other countries. But there is quite a bit that parents can do to help their children succeed in math and ultimately succeed in the global job market.

Read Full Post »

Someone always asks the math teacher, “Am I going to use calculus in real life?” And for most of us, says Arthur Benjamin, the answer is no. He offers a bold proposal on how to make math education relevant in the digital age.

Read Full Post »

In a lively show, mathemagician Arthur Benjamin races a team of calculators to figure out 3-digit squares, solves another massive mental equation and guesses a few birthdays. How does he do it? He’ll tell you.

Read Full Post »