Another Reflection: I Am Not Smart Enough!?
I often tell my students that they, one day, will surpass their teachers (or just me) because they have to learn a lot more new things which did not even exist when I went to school. They always giggle and get a kick out of my comments. They are only in Grade Three and they think that I am just trying to be funny whenever I say that. I am simply telling them the truth! (Look at me. I can’t even get my blog to do fancy tricks!)
When I went to my elementary school by Xi Men Ding in Taipei, my grade six homeroom teacher sometimes called us being so thick with concrete brains. Once a while, she would change and tell us that we had tofu brains instead. So, I got really confused. “Do I have a concrete brain or a tofu brain?” I asked myself. Was my brain supposed to be soft like tofu or hard like concrete? Well, I didn’t figure that one out, but I was smart enough to move on to the junior high school.
When I went to my junior high school, my grade seven teacher told me that I was smart and witty. I was very proud, but then I scored only 75 point on the IQ test. I didn’t know what that meant. (Apparently, that means “developmentally challenged”.) I just remember my teacher called me to his side one day and told me with a straight long face that I should take the test, any test, seriously. Maybe I should have taken it seriously, because my principle later told us that we would be up for no good if we couldn’t go on to a public senior high school. Gee. I was ready to give up right then and there, but then I got lucky and just barely made it to a public high school, the bottom one on the list. I was so happy that I told myself that I should start to work harder since I would not get smarter.
Throughout my senior high school, I tried my best in everything, almost everything. I was really good at grabbing the ball at the girls’ basketball games. But then, basketball is really a game for giants, not for a short person like me. I also went through the semi-military style of training in the target shooting team and won a gold medal. I was so proud of myself. The sport of target shooting did not discriminate me of being a short and stubby girl, but it was hard on my hearing. (Sometimes, I am deaf as a post. hehehe.)
I love my high school. My class was full of team spirit and did well on the cheerleading practice and many other activities. I made a lot of good friends, life long friends, and we got really enthusiastic about baseball games, especially about those national star baseball players from my hometown team (Chia-Yi). There was only one thing I was not feeling too great about myself – my academic performance. I was not too smart, but I was certainly smart enough to realize that, unless I were graduating from the top three public high schools in Taipei, it would be hard for me to advance myself to a good university, a public university.
So, what did I do? Well, I did as every other teenager would do at the time, either to continue to take more exams until I could find a post secondary school that would admit me, or to re-take the test in a year after high school graduation. At the time, the smartest people went to the public universities or to the private universities. Then the ones who could not pass the first university entry exam would take another entry exam for those three-year senior colleges. Another option for the university would be to attend the evening university program. At the time, only a handful of universities in Taiwan offered regular university programs in the evenings and on weekends.
I was accepted for Ming Chuan Senior Business College for the International Commerce program. It was a regular three year senior college program, so I could go to school just like everybody else during the day. The other option for me was the evening English Language Program at Fu Jen Catholic University, but I would be going to school in the evening. It was very difficult for me to decide because both programs seemed to promise a great outlook on future job opportunities. I guess my Grade Six teacher was right on one thing - my brain was just too thick to figure things out.
I was very confused and debating on which post secondary program to take. I, however, was smart enough to realize one thing soon - my parents could not afford to send me to a cram school to re-take the test in a year time. In fact, they hardly had enough money to send me to a private university or a college. They had four kids to support! Anyway, I finally decided that I might as well go to the evening program at Fu Jen University and earn some money to support my own education. That settled it.
My parents borrowed money from my grandparents to pay for my first year tuition. So, a not-very-smart person like me finally had a chance to go to a university. All thanks to my grandparents, my parents, and all my teachers who tried their best to make me smarter along the way. Now, as a teacher, I am trying my best to teach my smart students to be wiser so they will have an easier time one day when they have to make a decision for their own future.