That’s right! Lucas, TX’s very own Lovejoy High School was recently named one of the best high schools of 2012 by US News (based on 2010-2011 data).
And what helps set a high school apart from the rest besides its teachers, courses, and test scores? That’s right: its extracurriculars. That’s part of what makes Lovejoy’s recent buzz such a puzzle.
According to NICHE, although Lovejoy High School can lord an A grade over Allen’s current A-, judging by reviews provided by recent alumnus, it seems as though Lovejoy still has quite a way to go when it comes to standing toe-to-toe with Allen on extracurriculars.
Of course, regardless of what’s currently or not currently available for Lovejoy students, all a weaker extracurricular offering means is that there are plenty of opportunities for students to become the founders and leaders of brand new groups and clubs. So, if there’s a niche missing at your school or if there’s something you want to see changed, then it’s up to you to change it; it’s up to you to fill that void. After all, colleges aren’t only interested in what clubs and organizations you joined, but what clubs and organizations you helped fuel, change, or begin. It’s important to show that you can and are learning to be a team-player by joining and supporting the efforts of others, but it’s also vital to personal development and college readiness that you take charge at times, that you let your burgeoning leadership skills shine through for the betterment of yourself and your classmates. So, when considering what clubs and organizations to join, support, or spearhead, ask yourself what skills you want to develop, what courses you most enjoy, what types of people you want to work with, what types of goals you want to work toward, and how you can channel all of these things to better yourself, your peers, your community, and your world.
Also, don’t forget to think of extracurriculars as a part of your education — always try to keep in mind and think about how these can connect and interact with new electives and courses, whether in the arts or the sciences. Don’t forget that extracurriculars are an important part of not only self-development, but in exploring new possibilities, subjects, and skills. So, if you aren’t taking a science course or elective this semester/year, why not join or start up a robotics or astronomy club? If you weren’t able to fit in an art or music course this time around, why not see if there are any extracurricular choirs or art clubs you could join? Or, if you find you need some extra help studying your mathematics or in getting your bearings in the wild world of economics, why not go seek out support from people involved in related clubs and organizations?
(Quick disclaimer: this is meant to give an overview of the diversity of clubs and organizations available at LHS, but is not comprehensive. Also, for a list of ideas regarding types of clubs to begin at your own school, check out our previous post regarding Allen High School’s clubs and student orgs, and be on the lookout for upcoming posts regarding extracurriculars offered by other schools in the Collin County area.)
Music & Arts:
Education & Academics:
- See Cross Country for club information
Community Service and/or Advocacy:
Of course, a great service that Lovejoy HS also provides its students is this great list of other extracurriculars and clubs that are available to students beyond the school’s doors.
Here are just a few from this list to pique your interest:
There are always people lamenting the fact that they, their students, or their kids have terrible or simply nonexistent study skills. Begging the obvious question, why? Well, let’s not forget that like all skills, whether they be carpentry, writing, or singing, study skills require both teaching and practice.
But how many schools do you know of that still teach “study skills”? How many parents take the time to talk to their kids about what it means and looks like to study? How many parents know how to communicate and define good study skills for themselves in the first place?
Well, while this post can’t and won’t be the be-all-end-all of enabling you to establish amazing study skills, the following tips and exercises are excellent places to start:
1. Don’t Just Study for the Test
For a lot of students, studying means “stuff you do to prep for an exam.” And, while you certainly do need to study to prepare for any exam, if you begin by conceptualizing studying as this and only this, then half the battle is already lost. Studying “just for an exam,” is a quick way to not only decontextualize knowledge (and thereby make it harder to find interesting, to retain, and to think critically/creatively about) but also a quick way to decontextualize studying as a whole.
So, what does it mean to study for more than the exam? Well, it means that…
2. Studying Begins in the Classroom
When most students think of studying, they think Exams! and After School. But this seems to suggest that studying consists primarily of wading around in whatever the teacher shoved in front of you earlier that week.
Really, studying needs to begin with note-taking in class and thinking critically about the information you’re being introduced to as you’re being introduced to it. Think of it as a conversation with someone incredibly good looking, I mean so good looking that it makes you nervous: you’ve got to keep on your toes and continuously search for that next cool, witty idea that grooves with what they’re saying.
In other words, don’t think you’re teacher is giving you information just to give you information – that information exists for everyone and it’s up to you to make it meaningful. So, begin looking for context and connections as soon as you receive that initial dose of New Knowledge.
3. Habits Take Developing – Always Schedule a Time to Study
Regardless of what you’re practicing or how much you love it, whether it’s the bassoon, marathon running, acting, painting, mathematics, or chemistry, you’ve always got to set aside a time for it or it simply won’t happen. How much time you set aside depends upon any number of factors, but a quick and dirty rule would be to set aside at least an hour each night (varying, of course, by grade level – according to the National Association of School Psychologists, reasonable homework expectations are “that children do 10 minutes of homework for each grade level. Therefore, first graders should be expected to do about 10 minutes of homework, second graders 20 minutes, third graders 30 minutes, and so on.”). An hour, however, is a good, general starting place because it gives students a lot of leeway for getting started and buckling down. After all, we all know how the “getting ready” drill tends to go: you have to be in the right comfy clothes, the right comfy place, have a snack, go to the bathroom, take out the trash, etc. – when study time rolls around, other chores often begin looking more and more appealing as a way to spend an afternoon. So, make a date with Studying, turn off your cellphone, and get down to business!
4. Be Positive!
Oftentimes one of the hardest parts of studying is relearning things that students may not have fully understood the first time around while in class. This can make studying not only a dreaded thing, but can add immeasurable amounts of stress and make students feel dumb, defeated, and hopeless. One of the best things you, as a friend or parent, can do in order to make studying a better and more effective experience, is to make sure and approach it as a “safe space.” For example, if you are a parent studying or working with your child on their homework, don’t be disappointed, sarcastic, or surprised when your kids don’t know or understand something that you believe they already ought to. After all, they’re the students and not you; if they already knew and understood everything, then why should they be studying at all? If your child/student doesn’t understand something or is struggling with a particular type of problem, be supportive and make sure they feel comfortable asking you questions about how to move forward or how to rethink a problem. Very often students can feel judged for not picking up on things right away, especially if it’s something that’s often perceived as or spoken of as if it were simple.
Make sure that Study Time is a safe place for students/kids to explore, ask questions, and think creatively about the problems and information they’re facing.
After publishing Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Dr. Amy Chua found herself beset by attacks from all over the U.S., attacks claiming that she was a terrible parent who tormented her children and brought them up to be automatons. And, coming to this text years later for the first time, it was under this sun that I picked up the book for a read.
Now, I’ll admit that there were plenty of times throughout the text that I wrote some choice things in the margins, but, as I read along, I also began to realize that there were more than a few jokes in there that, at first, I simply hadn’t realized for what they were — jokes. In other words, because of the bad press the book had gotten, I went in assuming the text was humorless, that every line was serious — and, under that weight, who could enjoy or appreciate the arguments Chua makes?
Despite this initial rough and prejudicial start, by the end of the book, Chua had — to my own surprise — won me over.
It’s not that I agree with her every decision and action (such as the blanket opposition of “Western” parents and “Chinese” parents, though her disclaimer in the first chapter about what a “Chinese” mother is to her should definitely be kept in mind throughout the book), but there’s definitely a great deal to learn from her observations and philosophy.
For example, consider the following quote (pg. 215) wherein Chua is struggling with her younger daughter, Lulu’s, decision to tone down her violin practice in order to take up tennis:
“‘…it’s good that you love tennis.’
But just because you love something, I added to myself, doesn’t mean you’ll ever be great. Not if you don’t work. Most people stink at what they love.”
This sentiment, that creativity takes hard work and training, that real joy in an exercise or task comes from vigilance and dedication, is one that I fully agree with. How many people dream of being something but never see it fulfilled? How many people plan to write a novel one day? Plan to learn an instrument or another language? How many people want to get into Harvard, Yale, and Julliard? — The only way to make these things happen, to see these goals manifest, is by setting aside foolish notions of riding the coattails of raw, natural talent, and embracing the fact that accomplishing any such goal means sitting down and doing the work every single day. Creativity isn’t simply a thing people are born with. It’s true that there are geniuses in the world and it’s true that most people do have a particular aptitude for some things over others, but neither of these mean that the individual in question will succeed or accomplish anything if they don’t hone those skills, capacities, and aptitudes with constant, constant work.
And, really, that’s the main thrust of Chua’s Battle Hymn. It’s not that she wants to torment children or create an army of kids that can all play Bartók but not think for themselves — she simply wants to do away with the trophies for Participation and the parenting style that says: Let the kid make his/her own way, even though kids can’t possibly know, understand, or have the discipline necessary to pursue the “ways” that lead to their long-run success, security, and joy versus those that indulge their short-run desires.
While I was a student in college, I had plenty of friends with dreams of being rock stars. They bought the guitars and got together to strum boredly with other “rock stars” while discussing band names, but they never, never actually practiced. What’s more, when they did practice, it was never regularly or for more than perhaps one or two hours at a time. In other words, none of those people are even members of a garage band let alone rock stars now. As Sophia wrote for the New York Post, art isn’t spontaneous — art and creativity take intense dedication and do not come at the expense of other studies, pursuits, and responsibilities. And this is precisely what Tiger Moms aim to teach their kids.
Of course, many parents also bemoan the idea of children not having enough free time and thus feeling unfulfilled and lonely. But, as Sophia goes on to explain about how her mother’s parenting style impacted her, it’s not about self-gratification, but about developing an appreciation for hard work.
To me, it’s not about achievement or self-gratification. It’s about knowing that you’ve pushed yourself, body and mind, to the limits of your own potential. … You feel it when you encounter a life-changing idea, and when you do something on your own that you never thought you could. If I died tomorrow, I would die feeling I’ve lived my whole life at 110 percent.
In other words, the Tiger Mother style of parenting isn’t about keeping kids from experiencing the world to forcing them to practice useless things in any series of windowless music rooms and math halls. It’s about ensuring that kids learn the value in always pursuing something new, the value in becoming life-long learners, and that they cultivate an appreciation for learning and hard work for themselves. It’s about making sure that your child never feels like they should’ve worked harder or that they didn’t live up to their full potential or that they didn’t take advantage of their every opportunity to achieve their dreams.
The world is facing an unbelievable number of obstacles today from widespread poverty to devastating climate change.
Why wouldn’t anyone want to give their kids the best shot at being their best for both themselves and the world they’re about to inherit?
Of course, one of the most important (and hardest) realizations Amy Chua makes throughout her book is that not every child thrives under the same parenting style or with the same motivations. While it’s important to continuously push children and perhaps more than occasionally force them to work harder than they’d like to, it’s just as important to recognize when something simply isn’t working and to have honest discussions with your kids about what they need to succeed and why you’re choosing the actions and paths that you’re choosing for them.