High school pressure, birthday, home

The SJ Merc has a front-page article today on local high schools and the pressure Asian parents put on their kids to excel in high school and in higher education. I remember this environment vividly, and I’m sure it has only gotten worse in the years since I left high school. My parents weren’t as bad as some, but the pressure was definitely there, especially the push to get into a prestigious university. Junior and senior year, especially, those of us who were less driven witnessed our more ambitious peers descend into throat-cutting competition. Stomps, we dubbed them: people who will step or stomp on others to climb their way to the top. Most of us have since come to think the whole process is ridiculous, especially because many of those stomps have since changed or even relinquished their ambitions, or have fallen by the wayside, unable to keep up the frenzied pace of their studies and activities. Personally, I think it’s just hard for affluent suburban high-schoolers (and, perhaps, their parents) to realize that the world after high school does not fork neatly into successes and failures based on the achievements of those four years. In fact, I think it’s very difficult to tell how someone will turn out just by looking at their high school record. Why else would classmates.com, high school reunions, and Friendster be interesting? People don’t end up the way you predict.

At any rate, the article isn’t interested in whether high school performance predicts later successes. Instead, it follows one high-school senior and discusses her life, her family background, and her goals, tying these into the larger story of what’s happening in high schools and in many Asian families. The article attempts to move beyond what is commonly acknowledged–that Asian parents seem more inclined than others to push their kids to excel in school–but doesn’t delve very deeply into why that is or what the effects of it are. But it’s worth a read.

I’m back at home now until 2 January and delighted with my new leisure time. Oddly enough, my recently established schooltime discipline leaves residue, so that I’m no longer willing to sit around and let lethargy overtake me the way it used to. A pleasant surprise that bodes well for the rest of break. So far I’ve found a Christmas present for Shra, visited the dentist, and finished The Shipping News. Reviews of it and other books hopefully to come in the next week.

Sunday was a pleasant day, my twenty-third birthday and the first one I was able to spend at home since high school . . . so of course I spent the first half of it in Berkeley. I was treated to breakfast at Chester’s in Walnut Square, a gracious birthday gesture from Michael. I’d never been there before so it was especially nice. I had eggs scrambled with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and dill. Mmm. On the walk back to Michael’s house she found an amanita muscaria so perfectly intact and gorgeous she had to filch it from where it was growing and take it home with her. After breakfast Erik, Al and I headed out to Telegraph, where Al found many Christmas gifts for friends, and I found (or rather, was found by) Lisa M. We had not seen each other for a couple of years probably. More shopping and walking, some time and chocolate-shopping with Tina, and then back home for dinner with family. Was cranky at first because I didn’t get to choose the venue: felt like Amber-India, was overruled and taken to Dynasty, but still, it was a nice birthday.

Erik’s gift to me, the SF Symphony CD of Mahler’s Second, plays in my stereo and brings me happy thoughts and lovely music.

**edit**
Forgot–on our way to Berkeley a cop stopped Erik and me for going 80 mph. I’ve never seen a young Asian policeman before. He was very nice. Let us off with just a verbal warning since it was my birthday. I suspect it’s also because today is his birthday. He told me this and we wished each other happy birthday before he returned to his car and we took off at a more circumspect rate toward Berkeley.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]

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