In Introductory Creative Writing, our students were asked to describe in detail a setting of their choosing. This was a great example of successful description:
Grace L, 8
Yesterday, Ingrid went to the beach, and the sun was shining on the sand. She put down her umbrella and mat, and laid it on the soft sand. Under the sun, the sky blue sea felt warm, so she decided to swim for a while. Then, she came back up and laid on her mat and started to read a book. There were kids building a small castle, while other families were swimming. Also, some kids were playing volleyball.
Notice how Grace uses several senses to describe the setting, and includes details about how people are reacting to the setting. Great job!
Should the U.S. government allow anybody to ship coal to China?
Brandan S. 15, St. Stephen’s College
Nowadays, one of the major sources of energy and fuel is coal. Coal has been used by countries like China. Other countries like Australia, India and the United States also have coal exports as one of their main industries. Some people might oppose the coal exports to Asia because they think their options are environmentally friendly, sagacious, and morally correct. However, if we can take a closer look at reality, we will find multiple problems if the U.S. government bans the export of coal.
Firstly, even though countries like China have been developing very quickly with their advancing economy and global trades, China and other developing countries will need coal for energy supply in the future. There are still a lot of poor people in China and they cannot afford the expensive gas supply. In fact, they do not have a choice on whether they should consume coal for electricity and heat. If the U.S. government bans the coal exports to China, imagine how many people will have to use the poor quality of coal that is shipped from India or that is produced locally in China. This will seriously affect their lives.
Secondly, coal exports to China, India and south-east Asia are crucial to the U.S. economy. The U.S. stock markets will definitely tremble at even a slight slowdown in China. Why should Americans slow down their economy while other countries like Australia are getting all the business? People say coal increases the rate of global warming and therefore it should be banned. However, the truth is we cannot ban coal. Australia will be more than happy to take over the billions the Americans leave on the table if the U.S. government really bans coal exports.
Some might argue that banning coal exports can reduce its consumption and alleviate the pressure of global warming. This is wrong. Removing American coal supplies from the market will not reduce consumption; instead the prices of coal are very likely to increase. It will also encourage coal mining in less safe jurisdictions like black markets.
I agree that the environmental, health and safety impacts of coal mining are immense. However, poor countries are not oblivious to coal’s negative impact, but they still need it to improve the standard of living for their citizens. Why not provide these countries with the high quality American coal that is mined according to the tough environmental and safety guidelines, creating well-paying jobs and prosperous communities in this community?
And why not encourage them to use the latest coal burning and scrubber technologies to reduce air pollutants? Additionally, there’s this “leadership” argument that if we “take a stand” and “send a message’ that coal is bad, we make ourselves proud. coal is not just a much-loathed rock we can toss aside. It is part of the fabric of our human existence. We have “a complex relationship with coal built over a millennium.” We cannot rashly cut it out overnight. Is it right for us to impose such hardships on our fellow human beings while presenting no current practical alternatives?
In conclusion, I believe that the U.S. government should not ban the export of coal because it affects the lives of the people who rely on coal energy, slows down the U.S. economy and that banning coal exports does not solve the problem of excess consumption. In fact, it worsens the already dire situation. Therefore, coal exports should not be banned.
Should schools be able to monitor student activity online? Why or why not?
Vanessa K. 13
In Southern California, a school district has retained a private firm to scour the Web and look for public posts, photos, kiks, Tweets, and other communications made by its students. Its stated purpose is to prevent students from harming others–and, in particular, to stop cyber bullying. But as news stories reveal, the company that does the monitoring also finds out a lot of other information, like who might be testing in lessons and who might be using their devices unnecessarily. And now schools are increasingly confronting a controversial question: Should they do more to monitor students’ online interactions off-campus to protect them from dangers such as bullying, drug use, violence and suicide?
Geo Listening, the company that monitors student activity, raises public concerns. While some parents are likely to applaud the move as a way of keeping their kids safe, it still seems creepy to think of an army of computer experts who are paid to stalk students. Another possible worry is that a school district may become privy to events that a student does not want school administrators to see. From a teen’s perspective, it could cause further humiliation or embarrassment to know that a principal now knows about some painful event in his or her life. Even though students’ postings may be public–the idea that a student might be constantly monitored by a security expert that was hired by the school turns the program into one that is more like “surveillance” than it is like a teacher’s or principal’s randomly coming across an offensive email–or having one student turn another student in for misbehaving, according to what Kelly Wallace wrote in her recent CNN post.
Justin W. Patchin, from a cyber bullying research center, wrote, “From my perspective, schools do have an obligation to keep track of what students are doing online. I don’t feel, however, that schools should need to go on fishing expeditions where they scour the Web and social media for inappropriate behaviors. In a perfect world, paying a company to watch over the online interactions of students wouldn’t be necessary. I feel that schools should work to develop a culture where everyone looks out for everyone else and if something of concern arises, someone will step up and take appropriate action.” Most of the time, when there is a threat to cause harm–either to one’s self or others–someone sees or hears about it. Are they empowered to take action themselves? Do students feel comfortable talking with an adult at school about what they witnessed or heard about? This conveyed the message that what matters is not monitoring students’ online behavior to prevent cyber bullying, but to develop a good culture among students.
Some argue that schools monitoring social media amounts to a violation of a student’s privacy. Most students are smart enough to realize that what they post in public spaces online is open for anyone to see. And they know that schools are looking. Counselors, principals, and school resource officers have been looking for years. The only thing new about this is that a school is contracting with a third party to do the looking. Most students say that they have their Facebook accounts set to private. Indeed, in our early research into the social media behaviors of students on Myspace (remember that site?) we found that in 2006 less than 40% of students had set their profiles to private. By 2009, 85% of the active users had their profiles restricted.
With the current discussions about social media and privacy, particularly in regard to government request for user data, this program has certainly caused controversy within Glendale Unified School District. While some argue that everyone deserves to have privacy, other students and parents state that they would prefer the school be able to prevent the occurrence of a dangerous situation. Despite claims of privacy violations, the company has stated that the school is only able to monitor posts that are already made public by the students. Technically, this means that the students still retain their privacy for posts that they hide to the public.
To conclude, despite the fact that monitoring students online can prevent cyber bullying cases, the new stories revealed to the public prove that there are potential abuse that could happen and it’s not the best way to educate students on how dangerous cyber bullying could be.
In the past few years, smartphones have become almost ubiquitous in modern society, with demand outpacing other products on the mobile phone market and accounting for around 70% of all U.S. mobile devices by 2013. On the other hand, they have become one of the more risky things to be carrying around on the street, with about 1.6 million smartphones stolen in the U.S. in 2012. Thefts of smartphones are becoming an epidemic according to police chiefs and prosecutors. Around 40% of robberies in minor metros now involve a cellphone. The reason for this increase in robberies is simple: stolen smartphones make quick cash on the black market, selling for $200 or $300 USD on the street, or as much as $2000 HKD. One way to easily curb this influx of robberies of smartphones is to remove what makes them worth so much in the first place. By “bricking” phones, or turning them into useless paperweights, thieves would steal a lot fewer phones if they knew that owners could quickly render them useless. The idea of having a permanent “kill switch” on phones has been accepted by many, but the CTIA, the trade association that represents carriers such as Verizon and AT&T has opposed the installation of kill switches for numerous reasons. I believe kill switches should be installed in phones to help try to curb the rising trend of smart phone thefts.
One reason having a kill switch system is a good idea is that it is already guaranteed to be a secure system. One reason why people don’t want a kill switch system is that the “kill” message to activate the kill switches would be stored in a database somewhere, that someone has access to. They are afraid that someone with malicious intent could send “kill” messages to groups of people, disabling their phones. However an event like this would probably never happen, as security for the system would be very high and be very hard to break into. We already have many forms of private data stored in databases somewhere, such as credit card numbers and the security is very high, making it not worth the effort to even try to break into.
Kill switches are also already better than the idea that the CTIA and FCC implemented, in which they set up a d database for stolen phones that is supposed to block them from being reactivated by participating carriers. While this is better than doing nothing, there are still shortcomings associated. The database relies on a stolen phone’s unique identification number, which sophisticated criminals can alter. Even though the phone can’t make calls, it still might work on Wi-Fi networks. Also, the database doesn’t apply in most overseas markets where a lot of the stolen phones end up. A kill switch would just make the phone useless in the hands of the person who stole it as soon as the phone is reported stolen.
This idea is also cheaper for consumers, as one idea for kill switch protection would make the switch standard on all phones, but charge a flat fee per year for a premium add on that would either return a stolen phone or replace it with a new one. This idea would be cheaper than what cell phone carriers charge for insurance, which is $7 to $11 USD a month. This could also be a reason why carriers don’t want the kill switch, as it could hurt their already lucrative handset insurance business.
An argument that CTIA makes against the kill switch is the fact that kill switches permanently disable phones so even if you recover the phone it would still be useless in your hands. But available technology allows the original owners to disable stolen phones and activate them with a username and password if they’re recovered.
In conclusion, kill switches should be become mandatory in all phones to prevent smartphone theft, because they are guaranteed to be a secure system. It is a much more efficient idea than the one already in place and it is cheaper for consumers to use.
Some of the most important traits to possess are to be well-rounded and emotionally stable. However, a Chinese woman named Shen decided to take those away from her daughter, Cheng Cheng. Shen did this to cultivate the child’s independent spirit, but I believe that she had gone too far.
In the article it states that Cheng Cheng was satisfied with her daily life and earned multiple scholarships for university, along with a spot at a software company in Shanghai. Cheng Cheng may have a successful life, but I do not believe that the thing that made her driven was her mother’s baffling speech. A mother’s guidance and encouragement is what drives her child towards her goals. By calling her child ‘Garbage’ she would simply harm her dreams. So, I think Cheng Cheng was driven by another source of motivation; possibly her father or other relatives.
A good mother should be there when her child needs help emotionally; she should be able to make everything alright just by saying a kind word. Shen did the opposite; she thought that by teasing her daughter and complaining about her impurities, she would boost her confidence and self-assurance. This not only shows that she is a bad mother and does not know how to nurture a child, it also shows that the success Cheng Cheng has had does NOT justify Shen’s actions.
As a teenager, it is crucial to feel love and suport from your family through these formative years. Misleading your daughter by telling her you are not her mother sets an extremely bad example and proves that you are not a good role model. All this will do is make your daughter believe that telling big lies is acceptable.
Howver, many may believe that the success of Cheng Cheng DID justify her mother’s actions. After all, she got her to work harder right? No. A real mother should not have needed to lie to her daughter to get her to work harder. She should have been able to inspire her by telling real life success stories, about people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Phelps and many others.
Therefore I do not believe that Shen was a good mother and that even though Cheng Cheng now has a joyous life, it does not justify Shen’s actions towards her daughter. With the help of her mother’s love and care, Cheng Cheng would have been more successful in her life.
Does the Heavy Burden of Homework do More Harm than Good?
Erica Q. 14, CIS
Due to the recent test scores from around the world, schools in America have been panicking because of their less than acceptable scores, and finally facing that fact that American students are falling behind their peers in Singapore, Shanghai, Helsinki, and just about everywhere else. All over America, teachers have been frantically giving out piles of homework to their students and now, parents have been complaining about the stress that their children now go through because of the heavy burden of homework. I disagree with the parents who complain that their children get too much homework.
After reading the article “My Daughter’s Homework is Killing Me,” by Karl Greenfeld, I have a sense of what American students have for homework, and to me, that isn’t a lot. American students are famous for slacking off, or just not having a lot of homework in general. This sudden rise in homework load is not usual for them, as they haven’[t had that much homework before. Although to them it’s a lot, to regular Hong Kong students like myself, it’s about an average day’s work. Greenfeld says that because of the amount of homework that students like his daughter get, they rarely have time to have any free time, to do activities such as reading, playing outside, or exercising. This may be true for American students, since they haven’t adapted to the high homework load, but with the rise in assignments, they have the benefit of learning how to manage their time. Students such as myself have adapted towards the homework system, and have plenty of time for extra activities such as tutoring, exercising, and even arts. Learning how to manage one’s time can be achieved by homework, and encourages kids to finish their homework faster, so they can have more free time.
Homework can teach a student a lot about their subject. It adds extra knowledge and helps students prepare for the upcoming class. As well as this, later on in their lives, those students will have to manage with their workload while working someplace else in the future. Office work is bound to have a lot more work than a regular high school, and students need to be prepared for that. If American students are not used to this amount of work now, then they will never survive in a regular job, which usually has a large amount of paperwork that will need to be completed on a daily basis.
Some parents say that because of their children’s workload, they have no time for free time to do anything else, such as reading or relaxing. What I would say to those students is, “if you don’t have time, then make time.” It’s the student’s fault that they don’t have enough time to relax. They didn’t manage their time properly, and by learning only through”memorization, not rationalization,” like Greenfeld’s daughter, they don’t learn anything. By only memorizing, they don’t fully understand what they’re learning, and when something similar pops up, they still have no idea what it is. In the end, those students have no idea what they’re learning.
Instead of students only memorizing, but not actually learning the subject, students should have to prioritize understanding the knowledge first. When first introducing the students to a new topic, teachers should give out less homework at the start of the class, giving time for the students to familiarize themselves with the work. Once students understand the material, teachers should gradually increase the workload. In return, students should use the time that was given to them to revise and fully understand what the teacher has taught them. Students who focus on memorizing, but not understanding the material will never learn anything, other than facts that they don’t understand at all.
In conclusion, I think that in fact, the “heavy” burden of homework does more good than harm. Those students and parents in America who are faced with the increase of homework are merely over-reacting. Once those students get used to the workload, they will learn to adapt. Homework will be essential to student’s futures, as it will prepare them for the future, as well as teach them some essential skills they will need as adults.
The cool wind blew through Zhang’s bedroom window on a arm summer day. It smelled of the dewiness and freshness of summer breezes. Zhang loved the summer, mostly because he could relax more as less bandits and thieves came in the summer. Zhang and his family lived near the Silk Road where many bandits could be found. They could’ve moved, but Zhang couldn’t stand being away from the peacefulness of the rural mountain his tiny cottage stood on. “Zhang, breakfast is ready!” his mother yelled, (what she though was talking quietly) up the stairs. Yes, yelling was his mother’s quiet, shouting as his mother’s normal, and all out screaming was his mother’s loud. What was whispering then? Whispering was like making no sound at all for his mother. That is why she could never whisper. It was more like mouthing words for her.
“Coming!” Zhang yelled back. He woke his two younger brothers up and they all got dressed, cleaned hastily, and ran to get breakfast. Luckily, there was good things about their mother, like her delicious cooking. Today was their family famous blueberry pancakes. Somehow their mother managed to make the food healthy too so they could keep in shape for training.
Their father had trained Zhang, and when their father had passed, Zhang had become the master of the house. He was wise, yet cheeky, and had a good sense of humour that some masters had never had. Usually he was the one who hatched plans to trick Tan, their worn enemy, and other bandits who came along, but mostly Tan. Tan was foolish, so he was easily tricked, and he was quite moody at times, but he was definitely determined. As Zhang and his brothers munched on their blueberry pancakes, Jiang (one of Zhang’s brothers), who had always been one of those heavy sleepers and heavy complainers, muttered, “You can never get more than 10 hours of sleep in this house!”
Wang (Zhang’s older brother) replied, “No one your age sleeps for 10 hours, dummy!” Just like that an argument sparked and Zhang once again had to stop it. He told them off and sent them to their room when they had finished breakfast while he had some alone time or “me” time as Jiang and Wang called it. “Zhang! I am going to get some water from the river then head down to the shop at the foot of the hill. Be back in about an hour!” His mother yelled.
“OK!” Zhang yelled back. Zhang got out his Pipa and started playing his favourite tune when suddenly he was rudely interrupted by 3 thieves that worked for Tan, who had come to rob his house. “What are you gonna do with us huh? Bash us on the head with your stupid Pipa?” asked one.
“Oh no! I’m so scared!” another mocked. Zhang just grinned evilly, started a new tune and ignored their insults. As he played, everything in the house began levitating, all the furniture, all the knives, everything in sight. As Zhang began to pick up speed on his pipa, everything got higher and higher. The thieves hadn’t said anything or moved at all. They had been put under some sort of spell. None of them could move if they wanted to. When Zhang started playing at lightning speed, everything shot at the thieves who were still frozen in their spots, was automatically booted out. After they had been booted out, Zhang stood up to close the door. Just before it was fully closed, he laughed and said, “Me and my stupid Pipa.”
I believe that free trade should be favored over protectionism, because this can create more options for consumers, which decreases the general price level, increase competitiveness in the market, which can be helpful to many different parties.
Firstly, according to the law of supply and demand, an increase in supply would cause a subsequent decrease in price, which can cause an increase in aggregate demand. With an increase in aggregate demand, the slumping economy can create more revenue for a country, and increase other factors like employment, living standards and inflation. Employment would increase if demand for a product increases because employment is derived from demand. Wages may also go up to encourage people to join the workforce. An increase in wages can cause an increase in living standards, as now on average people will have more money.
An increase in supply also means a higher level of competition in a market. For example, the telecommunication industry is very competitive, because there are multiple companies, such as Vodafone, Verizon, Spring, T-Mobile, and Virgin. A more competitive market allows consumers to have more selection in goods and services. Therefore, this has the effect of forcing firms to decrease price or increasing the quality of their goods.Again, this will mean more employment as they will have to create either more or higher quality products.
On the flip side, one of the macro-economic goals of all governments is to have a balanced trade between local and foreign retailers. This is because governments want people to buy local products to drive up the economy. However, not only does free trade fulfill two other macro-economic goals (low unemployment and stable rates of inflation), allowing exports means that governments can collect more taxes in the form of VAT and tariffs.
In conclusion, I believe that free trade is more advantageous, as it can benefit the government, consumers, and the economy.