Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

saturday beyond

Friday I ate Total cereal for breakfast and two slices of Cici's sausage pizza, raw broccoli, raw baby carrots and dill pickles for lunch. I walked at lunch in Heritage Park in Sachse, where I saw a Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher. After work, I walked on the Chisholm Trail near Orlando Street in Plano. I listened to a choral group called the Oxfords get interviewed on Radio New Zealand. I was struck by how the counter-tenors had lower speaking voices than I expected. We dined at Forever Pho, where I had a bun rieu, a tomato noodle soup with chicken.

Saturday morning I got up at 6 a.m. I ate Weetabix cereal. Then I gave Beatrice a walk before the heat came up. Then I walked at Towne Lake Park, where I liked the Green Herons and the Eastern Kingbird. I went to the Movies 14 theater next door to see "Star Trek Beyond". I found this 3-D movie a good Summer popcorn movie, free of the undue burden of a tortured plot or elaborate mythology.

I stopped at Taco Cabana for two stewed chicken tacos. Then I went to Green Park in Allen, and walked between Green Park and the DaySpring Nature Preserve. The heat was over 37 degrees C., but clouds provided some shade. I like walking in the heat, in moderation, because I tend to have the parks and trails to myself. I liked the Tiger Swallowtail and Giant Swallowtail butterflies I saw.

I watched the American women's Olympic volleyball team defeat the Puerto Rican team in indoor volleyball. I watched the last few minutes of the US women's soccer team defeating the French team.

I wrote an email to a film director to whom I'd been recommended by a friend as a source of music. I watched a preview video of her project, which interested me.
So I wrote her to tell her I was interested, and gave her some links to some songs. My work gets used a fair bit in videos, films and games, but as my music is idiosyncratic, sometimes these no/small-budget-film-deals come off, and sometimes the director, understandably, prefers better music, or at least music better-suited to her or his vision. It was fun to try to sort out which 4 songs to "show" as representative songs. I chose "Sadness", "Prudence", "Statia" and "Small Pond" as those tracks.

I took a nap from 4 to 6. My wife arrived home from shopping. She had had a late lunch, so she suggested I go get myself dinner. I went to Subway for a veggie delight sandwich and baked potato chips. But I went via Suncreek Park, where I watched Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, an American Robin and an Eastern Bluebird.

I thought today how I believe that school is much more demanding on high schoolers and college kids than it was when I was that age. At the same time, the pressure on kids to try to get into elite universities is greater, I think, than it was for my set of kids. Although a few of my high school classmates tried to get into elite schools for their bachelor's degrees, none of them succeeded. Their SAT or ACT scores caused them to fall short. All of them got full scholarships or nearly-full scholarships to workable non-elite schools, and many of them became doctors or scientists.

I had no such lofty ambitions. My test scores and grades were pretty good, but I considered my preparation for university insufficiently rigorous to give me grand ambitions for elite universities. This view proved justified as at university I found that kids from the Little Rock private high schools were roughly a year ahead of my small-town Arkansas education. I am thankful I had some good teachers in my high schools (I attended one for two, and another for the last two). Otherwise, I might have been further behind because the difference was curriculum and coursework-embedded--they got calculus while we only got trigonometry. Now kids at most schools have calculus courses.

I went to my state university for undergraduate, and to my state's second "commuter" law school for law school. My grades and LSAT score qualified me for a more elite law school, though not for a "top 20" school. But my undergraduate GPA had been an ordinary B average, so I wanted to go to the local school in Little Rock. This proved to be a wise decision. My law school had no pretensions to generate academicians or philosophers, and instead contented itself with doing a good job of creating lawyers who tried cases and drafted contracts. I worked very hard in law school, which seemed to come easily to me. It's funny how things seem easy when one works hard at them. I always vaguely meant to go to an elite school someday for an LLM and perhaps teach, but I chose different, and perhaps more fitting paths for my practice.

I find myself fascinated by the admissions rituals in the different countries. I am intrigued that in Japan both high school admission and university admission depend on rigorous examinations. It's curious to think that one's future can be deeply affected by examinations one takes to get into high school, and then again, to get into university, and that the test score is pretty much what matters.

I read that in Canada, grades count for more than examinations, and that standardized tests like our SAT or ACT or the English A-Levels do not enter into things the same way. But I have not spoken to anyone in Canada that knows that.
Each year I am intrigued on Twitter by Results Day, when lots of English kids get their A-Level scores, thereby learning if they got into their first-choice admission, their "safety" admission, or are required to go find a different place via "clearing". I like the notion of narrowing one's admissions down to two schools, though it seems very different from our system. Our system, of course, has an interesting hodge-podge of standardized scores, grades, interviews at elite schools and assessments of all sorts of intangible criteria.

I like that Facebook reminds me that the world is comprised of more than folks with this education or that. Most of the kids with whom I went to high school did not get university degrees,though a strong minority did. But post-secondary education is not the great demarcation between "good lives" and "difficult lives"
in material terms. I like that the careers of my various high school classmates range from horse racing jockey to university professor to retired Marine to school teacher to truck driver to doctor to manager of a Sonic hamburger drive-in to sales engineer to software marketing guy to logger.

If I could do it all again, all that high school and university, I might do it a bit differently here or there, but it would probably all sort out fine and about the same.

In general, too, I think that our society de-emphasizes technical or "community college" education at a time when practical trade education should be emphasized.
My hope is that this will change.

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