Saturday, July 7, 2012

Longform Reads #5

This has been a fairly slow week, reading-wise, for me. I didn't finish many books, but thankfully, there were periods of times where I needed to read (and tada~ something of the right length). And I didn't have a "theme" that I read, but rather, a bunch of assorted articles.

School 'Reform' by Diane Ravitch - This essay looks at two aspects of school reform, one aiming to pull up a student's scores and the other aimed at their emotional adjustment. There's something in the article that mentioned that America has never tested well. Well, they made it sound like it wasn't important, but is that because the wrong kind of tests were given?

Autistic and Seeking a Place in an Adult World by Amy Harmon - I have a bias/vested interest in reading this article. One of my cousins is mildly autistic, and since he's the same age as my brother, I have always wondered what will happen to him when he grows up. Sadly, Singapore doesn't have a good support network for those with disabilities. I really pray though, that one day, my cousin can live as an independent adult. The article looks at one young man's case, which made it fascinating and personal.

Honors Track by Molly Patterson - The first longform fiction I read, and it was actually really good. It's about the pressures of the 'honours track' (I assume it's some form of advanced education) and what may lead a group of bright students to cheat. I can empathise with the pressures faced, but (ok, I'm very biased here), I think the schools in Singapore are much worse. There was a slight mention about how being the 'vice-president' of clubs were important and such for college. Here, it's not just being in a leadership position, you have to win a few awards, preferably international (the number of friends I know who have won an international award -normally first- is way too scary). Still, there's no excuse to cheat.

The Virtues of Day-dreaming and How to be Creative by Jonah Lehrerh - These two articles feel familiar (well, I used to read stuff like 'how to be smarter' just before exams :p). But it's a good reminder that the whole stressed-out-multitasking may not be the best thing to do if you really want to be productive.

The Comfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen - I'm very embarrassed to say that I haven't read anything by Jonathan Franzen. But now, after reading The Comfort Zone, which is his experience of growing up with snoopy, I really want to read something that he wrote. He writes in such a wonderful style that this is my favourite article of the week.

The Original Sin by Lapham's Quaterly - A look at the origin of misogyny and why it endures. Well, I can't speak for the other religions, since this isn't my field, but I think there were some interpretation problems. And interestingly, the quote by Paul was also used in the movie Agora. But anyway, the last line, about Eve being the first woman to question what she was told was so wrong. She didn't question, she believed the devil and sinned. Nope, she didn't question anything. And I say this as someone who used to go around telling the boys in Church that girls were superior (I got into quite a lot of fights when I was younger).

What did you read this week?

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