BC students (PC years 35 and 36) at RaceRocks, taken by Mark Kelsey. Spring 2010.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

January Adventures

How are you, my dear reader? You have no idea how much joy it brings to hear from people back home or even people here. There is something lovely about correspondence.

I was reading some previous posts and realized pretty much EVERYTHING I write is super positive and happy. Maybe this is because being here is wonderful or maybe just because I tend to ignore things that aren't happy and focus on what is. If you're wondering, I am occasionally subjected to negative emotions. Like at the moment I'm a bit frustrated with the IB and just academics in general.

The International Baccalaureate is the curriculum that United World Colleges use (and many other schools) and it is quite intensive. I love that it has an international perspective and is well-rounded. For example, the literature we study comes from very unique places. So far we've done a play from South Africa, a novel about Trujillo's Dominican Republic and a novel about post-colonial India in my English class. I enjoy my classes a lot, especially theatre and anthropology. Here's where the frustation comes in - the assessments.

IB is more university work than high school work so there's an adjustment in expectations that I'm undergoing. Teachers at Pearson ESPECIALLY expect a tremendous amount from us. There's nothing wrong with that, and at the end of the day this is a school with an intention to educate. The problem I have, is with the numbers. They cause so much gosh-darn stress! And I know I don't perform very well under stress. I'm the kind of person who would much rather have a lively discussion than sit in a cold room with my head down and write an exam for 2 hours. In real life we are tested through experiences. In school, our experience is being tested. Also, there is the common belief I think, that a tiny number out of 45 (in the IB) is representative of someone's self worth - of how far they can go. Well I'd like to disagree and say that my self worth is based on the quality of my heart, not something easy to measure.

What would school be like if there were no tests? No exams? Instead we were simply assessed through comments and areas of improvement when it comes to the learning PROCESS and not the outcome. I recognize the importance of seeing how much knowledge we are retaining but I don't think testing is the way to do it. Maybe this is just me, but I think about all the school related suicides that happen, or the ridiculous statistics of teen anxiety and depression (which I have first handedly witnessed). Plus my good friend Kieran says that most of testing is the opinion of the examiner....who can't really see the inner wonders of a child's brain networking.

I think that society is killing our creativity through this system of assessment. We are expected to memorize and regurgitate facts that just pass through one ear and out the other. What I love about Pearson is that we weren't given quantitative marks the first term, just four whole pages of comments. Compared to my last school's one liner COMPUTERIZED comments, this is a huge step forward. Not to mention UWC's commitment to an international, outdoor, in and out of classroom education.
Rant aside, I know that tests are a part of life and I wouldn't trade anything for the chance to be here. My awesome friend Spencer very wisely says that "its all a learning experience." He's right. Every day here is a learning experience. Talking with my roommates or walking in the forest or listening to the heated discussions about the world, or just hugging someone when they're sad.

Here's what I've been up to in the last 2 weeks:

- The 2nd year production is happening this coming Saturday as well as One World auditions on Sunday. It is REHEARSAL TIME, ALL THE TIME :) I'm auditioning 2 Indian dances, choir, girls's singers, and an international dance piece.

- We had a Change of Pace Day (no classes) on the topic of virtues and listening skills

- A couple days ago, my house had a wonderful night of bonding that I helped to co-ordinate. It is lovely to feel closer to everyone in McL.

- Yesterday I had an AMAZING dinner at my advisor, Seb's, house. We had a strawberry spinach salad, I made Foccaccia bread with Marc from Alberta, Felix from Austria made a cool take on macaroni and cheese, and then Seb and Natasha made 2 AMAZING cakes and homemade ice cream. It was a delightful evening.

- The Pearson campus has been dedicated to raising money for Haiti and has made around $1000 through ice cream and pizza sales, as well as Rock Band Tournament.

- Project week proposals are due soon, so everyone has started thinking about what they'd like to pursue for the March PW.

- The picture at the top of this post is from my English assignment to make a movie about a scene from Shakespeare's Othello. After we were done filming we decided to utilize Mark (from BC's) incredible photographical talent for some jumping shots. It was taken on the Director's Lawn overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Can you believe this is a sight I wake up to every day? Sometimes I need to pinch myself to make sure this whole thing is real.

Alright I will sign off in peace now. Thank you so much for letting me vent.

Lots of appreciation,

Emmy xoxox


  1. So true! You are not the only one who thinks that way... exams ARE a crazy way to measure a person.

    I would love to talk to you about your experience at Pearson sometime, if you'd be cool with that. Let me know! (:

  2. I don't know if you'll ever see this but I would love to talk with you!

    my email is notes4emmy@gmail.com