Nov 1, 2009 #1
This is my stanford essay for intellectual vitality. Do you think it actually shows intellectual vitality, or would a more academic piece be better.
And oh, its over length by about 400 chars out of 1800 :X
Thanks everyone! ((:
I used to tutor needy children, especially those weak in Math. Tutoring someone 3 years younger didn't turn out to be the no-brainer I thought it was. In fact, it was rather intellectually challenging.
I had a 15 year old kid under me called Gary who posed a great challenge to me. He was known as the hopeless case by other social workers, for he responded to neither the carrot nor the stick. Sure enough, no matter how I tried to be strict or tried to bribe him with small presents, he just wouldn't listen! However, he was pretty intelligent. I saw his potential, and I wanted to help him fulfill it.
From interacting with his friends and personal observation, I found that he was interested and highly proficient in Chinese Chess. Thus, I decided to act using that bit of information - I started playing chess with him after every session. Predictably, he was very excited by that prospect, especially by the fact that he could beat me so easily when I was supposed to be smarter. Gradually, the distance between us narrowed; he started to feel that I wasn't so different from him after all, and began to have faith in his own ability.
Now that he was hooked, I moved on to the next stage of my plan; which was to use chess as a carrot to make him study. I told him that I would set him 5 sets of problems every session, and that for every set he solved, I would have a game with him. He declined at first, but after a few days his love for the game won out, and he begrudgingly agreed.
I started him off with easy questions to build his confidence. Sometimes I even hinted using similar questions so that he would not be put off by his inability to do a single question. He progressed rapidly. My questions increased in difficulty, yet he required ever fewer hints. By the end of half a year, his grades had improved dramatically from the bottom 3 of his class to average, and his interest in Math grew. The last saw him, he told me proudly that he was now ranked the 5th in Math. We rejoiced.
Gary wasn't the only person who learnt something. I learned too. The whole experience has made me realize that there are always many solutions to a problem, and that we should always be on the lookout of new and innovative solutions.