God Forbid A Teenager Changes Their Mind About Their Future

, , , , | Learning | June 18, 2020

I’m a seventeen-year-old student about to do my A levels. I’m having a career consultation with a teacher from school. For impartiality’s sake, students are assigned a teacher they do not or barely know.

Teacher: “I see that you have put medicine down as your first choice. Strange. I thought that you had previously expressed zero interest in medicine.”

Me: “Things are different now. I’m now serious about pursuing medicine.”

Teacher: “Are you sure about this? I’ve had students say they want to do medicine because their parents forced them to.”

Me: “I understand, but I will have you know that I’m committed.”

Teacher: “That’s what they all say. Are you sure this is your decision? You don’t need to follow your parents’ will, you know.”

Me: “Doesn’t matter. I will admit that my parents are involved, but I agree with their decision to pursue medicine. It makes the most sense.”

Teacher: “I see here on your entrance interview for this school that you expressed an interest in accounting. Are you sure that you are willing to change that? You don’t have to obey your parents, you know.”

Me: “Yes. I selected accounting back then as it seemed like the path of least resistance. Times have changed since then. Now, medicine is the path of least resistance.”

Teacher: “May I ask what prompted you to change your mind? And what do you mean by ‘path of least resistance’?”

Me: “I haven’t found a job I particularly like, so I’m selecting the job that I hate the least. If I enter medicine, I will be able to inherit the family clinic within a decade. Then, I just need to cruise along until retirement. No need for pain or suffering. No need to worry about losing my job or being fired. As long as I don’t mess anything up, I’ll be set for life.”

Teacher: “That seems like a superficial thing. What’s your passion in life? Are you sure you can endure all that work just for a job you don’t like?”

Me: “Sir, I now realise there’s a cultural difference at play. I’m Asian. A job for us isn’t about following our passions or doing what we want. It’s about earning money. What money we earn can be spent on our passions as hobbies.”

The teacher opens his mouth to speak.

Me: “Case in point: my oldest cousin was set up to inherit the very clinic I mentioned. He completed a full medical degree and threw that all away to pursue his passion of being a dance instructor. He was literally disowned and is now destitute. I really don’t want to be disowned.”

Teacher: “But surely you don’t want to work a job you hate? Can’t someone else inherit the clinic?”

Me: “Who else will? My older cousins already have stable jobs in different fields. My siblings lack the grades to become a doctor and my younger cousins live in different countries. I’m the last one left. It’s my duty to keep the family business going.”

Teacher: “You don’t need to listen to your family. And they’re just bluffing. They won’t disown you. Surely you don’t need to do a job you don’t have a passion for. Are there any jobs you have a passion for?”

Me: “If I had a choice, I’d laze around all day doing nothing, but I don’t have a choice. My family needs an heir and I don’t want to be disowned. And yes, they can and will disown me. I’m becoming a doctor and inheriting that clinic. No matter what.”

Teacher: “Yes, but surely we can find a job you have a passion for.”

I’m really frustrated with him.

Me: “I’ve made up my mind and nothing can change it. Don’t try to convince me otherwise. No offense, but I’m going to find another teacher for career consultation.” *Gets up to leave* “Thank you for your time, sir.”

In the end, he wrote a report that, while quoting me verbatim, twisted my words the worst way possible. It severely torpedoed my medical career. It took me three years of hard work just to overcome it and get into a medicine course at university. I’m now a medical student and have since realized I like medicine more than I ever thought I would.

I get that following one’s passions is the western way, but that doesn’t mean it’s the way I want to follow. Asians have their own way, as well, but you won’t see me forcing it on others. The other teachers I spoke to were supportive of me, even if they disagreed, so how come it was so difficult for [Teacher] to do so?

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Everyone Can Do The Math But The Administration

, , , , , | Learning | June 16, 2020

When I was in ninth grade, nearly thirty years ago, I went to orientation for high school, having come from middle school. I was handed a schedule without math for the first trimester. Everyone was told that these were not final schedules and ours would arrive on our first day. Having been told for the last eight years how the school knew what they were doing, I didn’t question it. Now, I’d have spoken up.

The first day of school, my schedule was the same: no math. Having had to take a test to set which class I was to go into, I wasn’t concerned. My advisor, having twenty kids asking questions and only fifteen minutes in which to answer them, spoke to us all. “We can not add a class, only take one away. Any changes will be made in the next week.”

I didn’t need to remove one, so I waited. Nope, no change.

Second trimester, I now had math. I asked my teacher for a book. “Where’s yours from last trimester?” No math, no book. So I was sent right off to the counselor’s office. I explained my predicament. “Not possible. You skipped class.” I showed all three schedules. I was asked why I didn’t speak up. I restated that I thought and had been told that the school knew the best. I was told that I’d have to take it in the fall. So, I’d be a tenth grader in ninth grade math. I asked about when I’d take twelfth-grade math. “Not the time to worry about it,” I was told.

Once I got home, I had to reexplain the situation. My parents did the same, pardon the pun, math. My father decided he needed to speak to someone. As he was waiting, the principal came by. They addressed each other by name. The principal asked why he was there. Dad explained. The principal said, “Keep me in the loop.”

Five minutes later, my father left and I was called in. I’d get a special math class by myself. I now had eleven weeks to do twenty-five weeks of math. I got the impression I was expected to fail. But there was a kicker. In three weeks, I’d be going in for major surgery. I’d be out of school for two weeks. So now, I’d have nine weeks. But the teacher they picked? My childhood babysitter’s best friend, someone I knew well. I finished eight days early. There was a new counselor in the fall… who’s now the principal.

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That Question Went Down Like A Balloon Filled With Gaseous Lead

, , , , , , | Learning | June 7, 2020

My eleventh grade — sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds — chemistry class starts out with some basic information about the periodic table and how it works. 

Teacher: “For example, this is lead. This symbol means it’s solid at room temperature. The melting point at surface pressure is a little more than 600F — 315C — so you won’t see liquid lead in your normal day-to-day scenario. And here—”

Student: *Interrupting* “If you inhale lead in its gas form, would you die of lead poisoning?”

Teacher: *Unfazed* “As I just said, the melting point is more than 600 degrees. The boiling point is over 3,000F — over 1,700 C. You wouldn’t have time to worry about lead poisoning at those temperatures. Moving on, this symbol…”

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Sometimes Winging It… Works

, , , , , | Learning | May 22, 2020

Back in high school, I was the type of student who procrastinated and often did my homework at the last possible minute.

One day in class, at the end of the week, we were put into pairs, given an opinion on a topic, and then told we’d be debating for our opinion in two weeks, as another group had gotten an opposite opinion on the same topic. During the following week, we were to research our topic, find points to argue for our opinion, and together plan some sort of strategy. Every group had been given a few papers on their topic, but it was up to each group to find out more.

Unfortunately, I got a cold for a week and a half and stupidly did not look up anything, as I completely forgot about the assignment. Come Friday, upon entering the classroom, my mind was flooded with the memory of papers shoved into the bottom of my bag, my partner and I sitting together, and the deadline of today, the second of two weekly lessons with that teacher.

I more or less rushed over to my partner, asking her if she’d found anything, and her face said it all; she also hadn’t looked anything up. After asking around, we found out that we and our opponents would be the last to debate; everyone else got done during class earlier that week.

Fishing up the papers from two weeks before, we began hastily scrabbling for any information that would stick to our brains, when we looked up and saw the other group looking through their papers, pointing at some words, and discussing with each other. It was at that moment we knew we were screwed, and that our teacher would probably reprimand us for not doing anything.

Eventually, our teacher entered the classroom and everyone took a seat. She asked the two remaining groups to come up, and we solemnly made our way to one of two tables set up in the front of the classroom, ready to get an a**-kicking and a stern lecture on doing your homework.

The topic we’d been given was about prenatal care, and more specifically about screening pregnancy; my partner and I were for screening, while the other group was against it.

We both realized they had studied the subject, and they more or less took the lead in the debate. We did our best trying to lift up our opinion with what little we’d managed to remember from our short read-through, but we knew it would eventually turn into us going in a circle, repeating the same facts.

I somehow got into how a screening might tell if a fetus was at risk for a birth defect, which then delved into abortion, with them strongly making their case that abortion was bad, and thus screening was bad. It was then, when I knew we had nothing else left, that I pulled this line out of my a**:

“I’m not saying I stand for abortion, but I stand for women to have the choice and chance to prepare for a baby who might be born with a defect.”

That apparently threw them off, because they just stared silently at us and had nothing to say back.

We got a little applause from the rest of the class, and our teacher asked the class which one of the groups the rest of our classmates thought had made the stronger case on the topic, and they actually picked mine and my partner’s, pointing out my line as the “winning argument.”

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Presenting A Confusing Climate

, , , , | Learning | May 21, 2020

During my junior year of high school, my school decided to invite a scientist of some sort that studied the effects of climate change to come to talk to all of us. Sounds cool, right? That’s what we all thought, especially since they took up an entire class period’s worth of time for it, but we were all so wrong. This presentation went wrong on so many levels.

For starters, I’m not sure where the presenter was from, but he had a very thick accent and monotone voice and that, combined with the echoey-ness of the gym my whole school was crammed into, meant that we could barely make out a third of what he was saying.

Second, of the words we could understand, a lot of it was jargon that was quite a bit above most of our high-school brains and he had complete paragraphs on his slides you could barely read from a distance that also used a lot of the same jargon.

The most interesting part of the presentation was when the guy’s slides stopped working and IT had to come out to troubleshoot.

The next day, the administration apologized to us and praised us for being so good throughout the assembly. I’m still honestly not sure if they realized half of us fell asleep during it, which is why we were so “good.”

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