ANNA PENG

A Shift in the System

Systems aren’t designed fairly for everybody. One system most of us know well is the school system. 

It isn’t fair that some people are born with a great memory that allows them to ace any knowledge-based test with minimal prep time.

It isn’t fair that the course material gets taught to a class in an auditory way, where a fair portion of those students will learn better and faster in tactile ways.

It isn’t fair that students with hidden learning disabilities are put up to the same processes as everybody else.

It isn’t fair that those attending college from a lower income bracket will face more adversity during their school years than others.

And the list goes on.

“It’s just how it is” shows a voice who doesn’t want to bother changing the roots of the system because it’s infamously difficult to nudge a tangled mess forward.

Instead, “How might we” is a voice of possibility and change, even under the sturdiest of wicked, longstanding systems.

We risk the potential for stronger, more resilient communities by ignoring our weaknesses. And so we have to constantly seek and mend uneven patches in our systems so that we can include everybody. 


Seeking Inspiration

We can go for hours, days, or weeks just on the search for inspiration. What’s inspiration for? Why do we need it so badly in order to begin? Just exactly what are we looking for?

Sometimes when we’re in a slump, we need somebody or something else who holds a big box of matches to light our own flame.

A common fall we take is when we use seeking inspiration as a reason not to commit, refusing to accept that what you’re seeing is good enough to begin with.

You don’t have to be original, you don’t even have to be the first. You just have to take the first nudge that hits (even if you think it’s not good enough) so that you can start. 


What’s an A For?

Getting an A is easy. All you have to do is go to the rubric and follow what it says under the “80-100” section. There’s no guesswork, because the expectations are laid out for you. You’re either following them or you’re not.

In our culture, being an A student means you’re smart, you’re good at school. It means you’re intellectually gifted, great at what you do, and have a shiny path ahead of you. Your peers expect you’ll do great things. 

I was an A student for the most part of my academic journey, but I’ve got to say that there’s nothing extraordinary about being able to follow what somebody else wrote out for you. We’re simply doing what we were told to do. We’re good at following the rules.

The real part of school comes in when you get teachers who’d rather have you learn rather than follow a rubric. 

When you’re rewarded for finding out how things work on your own terms, when you’re encouraged to do as much as you can for yourself (not the rubric), you’re no longer chasing grades.

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