18 July 2014:I think it's time to stop pretending that my percentiles will somehow increase if I delay in verifying my marks. Lousy means lousy. Now that ostrich moment is over, time to get real and do work.
15 July 2014:It is extremely disappointing and disheartening to work harder than previously but receive worse results. I put in the most effort for this year's JCT. Yet, the results I get back certainly do not reflect that.
7 July 2014:
人生就是不停的戰鬥！So ... JCTs are over! Today's Monday, the off-in-lieu for Youth Day which was yesterday. Tomorrow there's e-learning, which means no need to go to school but there'll still be things to do. I just hope the e-learning tasks are meaningful ...
I haven't been updating throughout the June hols, my previous post was near the end of May. Partly because I'm revising, but partly because I'm lazy. In fact I started a draft on 19 June, about coding, but gave up halfway.
Maybe I'll continue that post since I do have special feelings towards coding. And I'm encouraged by the fact that JQ has recently posted new stuff. So yes, I will see through the completion of this post at least!
JCTs were such a flurry. And my June hols were spent rather scarily. The first week was supposed to be make-up lessons for bio and maths. I missed them mostly due to a symposium I had.
The symposium was good but some parts were seriously boring ... It did, however pique my interest further. So perhaps it was still worth while. And thankfully for bio it was just going through tutorials, which have answers.
Maths was the teaching of the final topic, complex numbers, by a very good lecturer! She taught the whole of vectors and, in retrospect, she is indeed one of the better ones. So I'm glad she is teaching complex numbers since it's gonna be ... complex.
I managed to read up ahead on the first part of complex numbers, so I won't be too lost thankfully. I know things like modulus and argument ... Should be enough to bridge when school reopens and they continue teaching it.
It helps that I like maths. It's not something that most people would say; maths has a pretty bad reputation, exemplified by Hollywood. There was a video collating all the instances that characters from various shows talked badly about maths.
Nevertheless, maths is useful, in practical and conceptual purposes. Most people use maths merely to calculate certain quantities, using basic arithmetic. They don't even go beyond algebra perhaps, since there's no need to.
This probably sums up what most people think about maths, especially at higher levels. And it's not entirely false, that we are too focused on academia but not on life skills. Nevertheless, maths teaches certain important skills as well.
By right, maths is strongly tied to logic. The above mentioned about Pythagoras' theorem but how many actually know what a theorem is? (Confession: I don't.) Nowadays people are just taught the formula, the theorem, the law without context.
And that actually isn't what maths (or science) is about. All these came about from discoveries by clever people, and they have a procedure. The procedure is, in fact, more important because from there students learn certain skills.
As a sidenote (to my sidenote), the scientific method is probably the most over-looked concept in science. At least in Singapore it is relegated to the first few pages of a secondary school textbook then henceforth ignored.
Granted, it is not the most important thing. But from there many things can be taught: in terms of values, for example, about resilience when scientists and mathematicians try and try again till they succeed.
Or how rigorous academia should be, how experiments are conducted and evidence gathered. All of the content of what we learn came about from past scientists' adherence to the scientific method, as a form of classifying knowledge.
Yet exams mainly focus on content now. Not wrong, but perhaps a little more balance could be in place? At least in primary and secondary, introduce to students relevant scientists and why we are learning certain things (thanks to them).
Although I haven't done any research (so it's unscientific), I'm pretty sure if that is done many more would like science and maths genuinely, instead of studying it for the sake of passing exams. That should be what education is about ...
End of sidenote, back to my first sidenote about how I love maths. So yes, long story short, I love (most) maths topics. Yes, certain ones like series and sequences and P&C still confuse me greatly, but algebra, calculus and vectors are greatly loved.
I love how they are so flexible and diverse, that no problem is the same as another. And that, in some ways, is like life isn't it? You don't expect everything that comes your way to be the exact same type of problem that can be easily solved.
So in some sense, maths prepares us for life. And like how one problem may be solved by two methods, things in life also may have different ways of approaching it and we shouldn't be too inflexible. That is one of the biggest takeaways from maths.
And yes, maths is about logic. From the simplest of true/false Boolean logic (which I learnt from coding) to other complicated forms, there are so many intricacies about it. Which also helps us to look at life.
How so? Sometimes when arguing or debating things, people tend to make fallacies, e.g. slippery slope fallacy. Basically, if A = B, and B = C and C = D, then A = D. BUT they forget the important 'if' before A = B.
Which means that it is not a given, P(A = B) does not equal 1. All these are part of maths, but sadly isn't widely taught. And again, I believe that these, if taught, would help more people avoid such fallacies and construct better viewpoints.
And this has practical uses, for the practical-minded, especially when we're debating (internally) whether or not to do something. See, maths isn't that far-fetched and removed from reality ...
But okay, end of first sidenote. So yes, I love maths. And I was supposed to recount my June hols. The first week was largely unproductive in terms of revision. The second week consists of panicking and starting some revision.
The third week involved so much more panicking and revision. The final week involved constant thoughts of 'I'm gonna die this time' while trying to revise as much as possible. What an eventful month it has been.
And yes, since I am very easily distracted, I deactivated Facebook and Twitter, turning them on only after all papers ended. I even re-installed StayFocusd, a chrome extension that blocks certain websites after a set period of time.
The extension greatly helped because it is strict and robust, which managed to curb much of my procrastination. Since I had no time-sapping websites to visit, then I had to start my work. I also listened to white noise, which helps concentration.
Monday was spent furiously trying to cram whatever I could of bio and history, whilst remembering there was GP on Tuesday. So I spent Monday night reading through the GP revision package on selected topics that I wanted to focus on.
And I realised that I knew most of the examples listed in the package for the arts piece. Which made me feel a little indignant: the examples I know came from continuous reading of relevant articles and all over a few months.
Yet, some guy could probably memorise all of them the night before and dump them in, gaining perhaps the same content marks (or better if he memorised more than I collected). I don't know: am I selfish to think this way?
Then again, the GP dept has to provide resources, and I think they're semi-desperate by giving out near-full arguments for students to use (a.k.a. memorise). Desperate times call for desperate measures maybe?
I sincerely hope this time my essay could score better than previously, which was horrible! I had banked on doing an arts question during promos but when it did come out at all, I mind-blanked at the rest.
So I went to do a question on discrimination, which I flunked badly since I didn't even have content about various forms of discriminations and relevant examples. This time the arts question did come out and so I hope I answered the question well.
For every point that I raised I provided two examples, being kiasu a bit. Let's just hope my two examples per paragraph thingy works out and is appreciated by the marker, whoever it is~ And hopefully I could get beyond 30?
I know the exams planning committee doesn't have an easy job, but honestly, putting history and bio on the same day is akin to murder. (Geog too, for geog students.) Both are content-heavy subjects and there is seriously no way anyone can do decently for both.
On Tuesday night I went to bed with my head so swamped with history concepts that I couldn't sleep for a long time. And yes I had to trust that my bio revision from week 3 and early week 4 wouldn't leave me.
Eventually for history I broke my record in terms of number of pages. Sadly, that doesn't guarantee high marks. Nevertheless, at least now I understand what Mr S meant by history essays cannot be < 3 sides because there's so much to write'.
I finally understand now that for every topic tested, there really is a lot of factors to explore and how these interacted with each other. Add on a little story-telling as substantiation and yup, no wonder the ideal history essay is six sides long.
So in three hours' exam time, I completed four essays with 17 sides of paper. I just hope that the points I raise are relevant and I properly argued them. I genuinely love history and I hope it can love me back too.
For maths ... I don't know what to say. Despite all the profusing of love above, I don't think I did well for maths. My beloved calculus wasn't tested at all this time and it was all the topics I'm weak in, all from sequences and series.
My hope is just that the whole statistics part can save me, except P&C which I gave up. Nevertheless, I still love maths. By prelims everything will be tested so perhaps that would give a more accurate reflection of my standard.
In conclusion, as per my title, life is an unending struggle. It was never meant to be easy but we just have to press on! And currently, it's to press on for A levels. Not the most exciting thing, but rather necessary.
Word count: 1760.