students

“Pocahontas Never Went to College”

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I know how you feel. I know that heart-wrenching, balloon-deflating feeling when you received that email and scanned through the sentences only to read the words that you were scared of reading most: “We are unable to offer you admission…

You sink into your chair, feeling like a complete idiot. You throw your phone across the room, wreck everything in sight and punch the wall as tears threaten to spurt out of your eyes. You think about how that dude you hate in class who got into your dream school while you hadn’t, which makes you even angrier.

You punch the wall again.

Then you ponder about what you’ve been doing for the past four years of high school, the past four years of your life. You’d studied your rear-end off, spent all that money on tutoring and SAT prep, not to mention spent a ridiculous amount of money on those stupid AP exams. Heck, you sacrificed your sleep and social life to get into college and guess what?

It didn’t pay off.

And it sucks.

Big time.

I even felt angry while typing that very paragraph above. Had to refrain myself from using expletives.

BUT. I know how you feel. Bartleby Gaines does too. And who’s Bartleby Gaines?

THIS IS BARTLEBY GAINES:

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And he is my newest idol.

Some of you may recognize him as the main character in the movie Accepted, aka one of the best movies ever.

Bartleby over here got rejected from all of the schools that he’d applied to. His parents viewed him as a disappointment and no doubt he felt like the biggest loser in the world for letting them down. So what does he do?

He makes his own college.

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“South Harmon Institute of Technology” starts off as a mere cover-up in order to gain his parents’ approval. But what was only supposed to be a little lie turns into an institution that suddenly thousands of other kids want to go to because they didn’t get accepted anywhere else.

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It intrigued me to see the amount of sense in this movie, as ridiculous and comedic as it was. Students were the teachers, and through the abundance of creativity and ideas shared by the entire student body, actual learning took place. Society’s so-called “rejects” were getting more learning done than the prestigious, well-known Harmon College down the street.

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The student-learning environment portrayed in the movie is actually no different from learning today. Students are more and more encouraged to survive tests and quizzes with “independent” learning. Students are expected to share ideas with each other and learn from limited teacher-student interaction. I don’t know much about college but I have heard about how most of time, it’s just lecturing. You’re basically on your own, doing your own homework and developing your own study habits.

Where am I going with this? What I got from Accepted is that grades and teachers can only teach you so much. Sometimes, the real learning comes from talking to people, interacting with them, hearing their life stories. It’s much more enjoyable to learn something when it’s told in story-form. Through people and through others, your friends, you can actually learn things that help you with life, things that you can’t learn in a classroom setting.

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The best place to start for stories? Your teachers. Love them or hate them, they were once students too. You’ll be surprised how mischievous or rebellious some teachers were back in the day. I have never found a teacher-told story boring or uninteresting at all. If anything, they gave me hope and a laugh that would last the entire day.

So keep an open mind. That athlete who sits next to you in Physics or that theater geek who helps you on homework can be some of the best teachers you will ever know. And if you have learned from them, embrace that new profound knowledge. You don’t need a quiz or a test or a college acceptance letter to prove that you’ve learned something valuable.

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And remember.

Pocahontas never even went to college.

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“Parents Just Don’t Understand”

The Nictor Project

Yeah. They really don’t.

There are many things that adults don’t know about students. Many like to think they do, but with the generation gap and the introduction of the technological age, things have definitely changed.

With this project, I aim to voice out aspects of modern-day student life that some adults may not be aware of, such as using smartphones in the classroom, or the real reason why the color of a graduation gown is no big deal. I want to voice these issues out, show people what students are really thinking and doing.

My project also serves as a source for motivation and inspiration, in which I would post quotes that I find meaningful or encouraging. I wanted a project that would assist students in such ways, to help them feel comforted, like they’re not alone with these issues. Parents, teachers, and students can have a better sense of communication and understanding as well.

However, when I was brainstorming for such an innovation project, it had many stages of evolution that would all, inevitably, contribute to the ever-growing Nictor Project.

Stage 1: Origami Origins

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During the summer I’d volunteered at the library several times. One of the events held at the library had been an origami class. The event supervisor advised me that since the majority of the patrons would be kids, to teach something that would be fairly simple. I’d been doing origami ever since elementary school, knowing how to fold a crane with my eyes closed. That was my best, after all: the crane.

But in the end, I’d chosen a cup. It was easy, albeit perhaps a bit too easy, and could be done in literally about three seconds. Click here to learn how to make it!

On the day of the origami class, I sat down at my table, waiting for kids to come. Many kids actually even passed my table, perhaps finding the cup not interesting enough. I shrugged it off, because after all I was still getting my volunteer hours anyways. Bored, I began folding the origami papers on the table, making my crane absentmindedly. A little girl comes by and asks me if I could show her how to make one. “It might be a bit hard,” I warn her. She bravely sits down and replies, “It’s okay.”

So I teach her how to make a crane, step by step. The crane was much more difficult than anything else at the origami event, but soon kids came piling over to my table, wondering how to make such a pretty and exotic bird. Even adults began coming over to learn how to make one.

When I talked to those children, I found that they learned better when you talked to them as if you were talking to an equal, like a friend. I saw many of the other origami instructors, teenagers like me, talking to the kids as if they were still an infant, a mere child.

While first brainstorming for an innovation project, I thought back to this memory and realized how perhaps more adults or parents needed to know about this method of treating children like an equal. I thought about how such a method could prevents kids from being shy, helping them open up and have fun. All these ideas eventually bunched up into a documentary idea about how overprotective parenting basically stinks.

Since I was doing a project on children, I decided to combine the names of my two younger cousins: Nicolas and Victoria. These two cousins of mine are extra special to me because they’re the ones who always keep the kid inside of me alive with their rambunctious ways. So there it was: The Nictor Project.

Of course I had to come up with a logo.

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An old draft. NOTE: the tumblr is no longer in use.

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A before and after.

Stage 2: A Short Attention Span and Mistrust

So now it was time to pitch my innovation project to my advisers. After some brief trials of Crows vs. Crops, I’d simplified it to: a documentary showcasing how overprotective parenting has affected high school students.

My advisers figured that no parent or adult would trust a bunch of teenagers talking about how they don’t like being overprotected. They told me that perhaps I should interview business CEO’s or teachers, people who adults would most likely trust. They also suggested short, 2-minute video clips, since many people don’t like watching videos that are 3 minutes plus (myself, including). 

Stage 3: Apparent Issues

This year, many of my teachers were really starting to utilize technology to get their lessons across: Canvas, Twitter, the school portal, Youtube, pdf files online. My mother would always chastise me for being on the internet so much, and I would defend myself and tell her that it’s for school. But, of course, she wouldn’t believe me. I mentioned this to some of my other friends and they gave me similar responses: their parents were getting on their case too about spending too much time on the internet when in actuality it’s for school.

This was where the idea for my first video came to be. I wanted to showcase a teacher telling directly the audience that education actually needs technology, in the hopes that others would see it and get the idea that students are not in the wrong here. My English teacher assisted me in encouraging me to use Twitter to carry out my project, and also helped me spread the word. My project was suddenly starting to take shape.

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Stage 4: Still Pending

My project is still growing and evolving everyday. Just a couple of weeks ago my teacher suggested uploading quotes or pictures that I find moving or motivating, to keep my project alive.

A couple of photos from @NictorProject 's twitter.

A couple of photos from @NictorProject ‘s twitter.

I tend to observe things around the classroom. I also tend to take the things that my teachers and counselors say into consideration. If they say something that I feel like everyone should know, then I would add it onto my list of video ideas.

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The most difficult part about this project thus far, in my opinion, is describing my project to people. It has such wide boundaries that I have trouble finding ways to sum it up in a sentence. So it was actually pretty hard for me to come up with a valid description for this project. Getting my friend to assist me in filming also was quite a challenge. I do all the editing but a fellow good friend of mine assists me in allowing me to film with her HD camera.

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My future projects include videos about my counselor talking about how gown color actually doesn’t matter. I’d slumped into her office one afternoon, telling her how disappointed I was in myself for not being able to attain the white gown I strove so hard for (at my school, the “smarter” kids with a certain GPA get white gowns instead of blue). She’d asked me, “Do you really think your gown color will have an effect on your future?” When I replied yes, she proceeded to explain to me why she actually loathes the gown color system. And this is what I feel like more people should know, because some of my friends had been pretty sad about not getting their white gowns also.

Another project in pending is a video on how community college is not the end of the world. If anything, it’s a great choice, equally smart. Many people look down on the 2-year community college system but one of my other counselors had also explained to me that it’s actually a super awesome path to take.

If any of you guys have any ideas or input on this project of mine, don’t hesitate to comment below! Or email us at: thenictorproject@gmail.com

I’d used the pronoun “us” back there. This is actually a one-woman project but I like referring to this project with words like “us” or “our” because I feel like we’re all in this together.

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Okay bad joke. But I seriously mean it when I say that this project is for everyone, not just me.

Further links are provided below. I would love for you guys to check it out!

Links

Facebook page

Twitter

Youtube Channel