Note For Anyone Writing About Me

I got blogger working again using a different proxy. It'd still be nice if people liked my Facebook, but you don't need to look at it to get posts anymore.
For anyone who wants to write about me
I am an Autistic person. I am not a person with autism. Don't call me one.
My name is Alyssa, I'm a triple major in mathematics, mechanical engineering, and Chinese. I'm currently studying abroad in Tianjin. I have an About. I'm Autistic. I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Language play off 因才而教

因才而教 is a pretty traditional Chinese statement on education. Confucius (孔子) said it. (A lot of traditional sayings come from him or from Lao Tzu (老子).)
因 is the same character from 因为, "because." 才 is from 人才, the person, the person's abilities. 而 is one of those complicated characters, but here the closest I can come is "therefore." In combination with 因 it's like "according to." 教 is to teach, or to educate. As a whole, 因才而教 is saying to teach according to the person's abilities, according to how the person learns.

Sound a lot like the ideas of individualized education, inclusive education, presuming competence? It should, because it is similar. That's not what mainstream Chinese schools are doing right now, but the idea has been around a while.

Anyways, now it's language play time.

The original statment:
因才而教.

Some things that I think are along similar lines:
因才而考: Assess according to the person's abilities.
因才而选话题:  Choose topics according to the person's abilities/interests.


Some things that the statement is really, really not.
因诊断而教: Teach according to the diagnosis.
因诊断而不教: Fail to teach because of the diagnosis.
因以为无才而不教: Fail to teach because of believing wrongly that there are no abilities.
因缺而教: Teach according to defects. (Not saying ignore the stuff that we're bad at. But don't choose to teach only to remedy percieved defects.)
因缺而不教: Fail to teach because of defects.

And of course, question the idea that the things we're thinking of as defects currently are deficits. What is valued, and what is not valued, are cultural ideas.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Letter of Interruption

We (I) interrupt talking about the awesomeness that is 李金生 (Li Jinsheng) for me to get some words out that I'd like to have said to my academic director, but that I know it would be a bad idea to actually send her. (So um if you read my blog, cause I think you have the link thanks to the transcript of my presentation linking to another post here, remember that I did know better than to actually send you these words and that no one here actually knows who you are. Haven't told them your name or anything, not even pinyin.)

Anyways.

Hi,
You may have figured out at lunch today that the whole "sit in on one class, take one class" ending with my doing the finals for both was totally planned. At the least, you weren't happy that I was laughing about it. And yes, it was planned. I don't know how to fake a melt down, and I wouldn't try anyways, and I can't come up with deception during a melt down or anything- at the moment I suggested it, I was suggesting it for real as an act of desperation that I can't lose out on a thing I can do based on a thing I can't do yet again (this happened a lot in middle school and early high school, but by the end of high school I figured out what the weak points were so that my guidance counselors couldn't really pull that anymore.) But once I was calmed down the idea of taking both finals anyways occurred to me pretty fast and I decided to just go with it, and that telling you so would just be asking for trouble.

This is absolutely about that.
You said today that I shouldn't be laughing, because while there were gains (the reason I ignored you and did my two classes and the finals for both) there were also losses (true of every choice ever, yawn, give me news please.) I know full well what you think the losses were. You think the loss was to my grades in Chinese. You're wrong, and the fact that you still think my taking two major classes was the problem... well, your solution wouldn't have helped, and might have made things worse.

The problem wasn't my doing too many things. I've done heavier course loads before, actually, with better records at getting my homework in. The problem was insufficient scheduled transit time, or insufficient away time. Either one of those phrases, while they describe different things, would have been a partial solution. So what would really have worked? More major classes, strangely enough. Send me to the new campus daily, Sunday through Thursday, timed so that either I've got an hour or so of time between classes with nothing to do, or so that I'm going to get a seat on the subway in one or both directions. This needs to be because of an obligation, like a class or a sports practice, not just a thing that I'm doing because I think it's a good idea, or else it will fall apart quickly. That's why I say adding more major classes- it's something that could have been done, though it wouldn't have gotten approved in a million years.

I'd have needed something to do on campus, or on the subway. That would have been reading my class texts enough of the time to be helpful to my homework completion. [I know this works because transit has been how I've gotten homework done for quite a few classes over the years, and down time at an out of the way place where I don't really have time/means to go elsewhere during this time has gotten other homeworks done regularly over the years.]

Pattern recognition. It's something I'm good at. The classes I was most consistent at getting my homework done for were ones where I had enforced down time or transit time (or another class I didn't pay attention to, sorry, not actually a good student.) That doesn't happen by telling me to drop classes, by the way. That's happened when I've been ridiculously busy. Leave the house at 6 or 7 am and not get home until 8:30pm kind of busy, that was the best term and a half or so of the only year I ever got straight A's.

So yes. There was a loss from the way I handled my major classes, there's basically always a loss to every choice. So as for the loss: It's not a hit to my Chinese grades, that's mostly a function of how the class was structured (OMG so much homework, this is a problem) and partially a result of my not having that kind of stuck/down/transit time that let me get stuff done better in swim season than in not swim season. It's really, really not the Chinese grades, and you're probably not going to believe me no matter how many times I tell you that those aren't a result of my taking two major classes, not even a little bit, but that's the truth. There's exactly one day all semester where the major class I was supposed to audit but actually did the final for could have hurt my Chinese performance, and my homework was done that day- I'm talking about the day of my final presentation, when my paper was due. The paper was a one-night deal for pretty much the same reasons that my homework was an issue all semester.

No. Chinese grades weren't the loss. You probably no longer trust me not to nod along with what you think I should do, then ignore you and do what I want anyways. Which, I mean, you shouldn't trust me not to do that, because I absolutely will! It's not even the only deception-type thing I did this year- when they asked about disabilities for ADA reasons, I described way fewer effects than actually showed up over the course of this year because I didn't want to get kicked off before I even got here. But your idea that I'm pure or innocent? Yeah, I think that got lost. It's an acceptable loss, as far as I'm concerned. I'll keep laughing.

Alyssa

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Some more on Li Jinsheng (李金生)

So I am now finally talking about the ways that Li Jinsheng (李金生) and his taking the college entrance exams (高考) has been represented in some Chinese media. I'm looking at articles published online in Chinese, on China-based sites, something that I don't think most USA folk look at, and most of my readers are from the USA.
The articles are

  1. 盲人高考河南第一人参加体检 盲人试卷或将亮相 April 23, 2014 article, headline about the first Blind person in Henan (a province) to take the entrance exams.
  2. “河南盲人自考第一人”报名高考遭拒 自言不放弃 December 14, 2013 article, headline about the first Blind person in Henan to take the independent study college entrance exams (Li Jinsheng was that person a while back) planning to take the regular exams. 
  3. 黄诗欣:高考交白卷的权利 June 12, 2014 article, headline is the authors name followed by "the right to turn in a blank test on the college entrance exam" (Li Jinsheng turned in a nearly blank exam after being given a paper version- he'd practiced on and requested electronic versions.)
  4. 46岁李金生:今年全国唯一一名盲人考生 June 11, 2014 article, headline is 46 year old Li Jinsheng: The only blind person in the country to take the college entrance exams this year.
  5. 盲人高考白卷亦是一种公平与进步 June 16, 2014 article, headline is that the blind person's blank test paper is also/still a sort of progress for fairness.
  6. 交白卷无损盲人高考破冰意义 June 9, 2014 article reprinted from the Nanjing Daily. The headline says that turning in a blank test paper does not diminish the "break ice" meaning of a blind man taking the college entrance exams. Break ice here is figurative language for breaking down barriers in general.
  7. 盲人高考交白卷“破冰”还是浪费? June 11, 2014 article, headline asks if the blind person turning in a blank test paper is breaking the ice or wasting resources. The article goes for the ice breaking meaning.
  8. 李金生的高考,不是一个人的战斗 June 9, 2014 article, headline says that Li Jinsheng's participation in the entrance exam isn't just one person's battle. 
  9. 教育部发文部署2014年普通高校招生工作, a ministry of education release from March 28, 2014. I'm really only looking at one paragraph from this release from the 教育部, and it's the second to last one. That's where they changed from their old decision of not letting Blind people take the regular exam to allowing it and stating some available options. 
This is a lot of articles, so this is probably going to be multi-part. Ah well, suc
So, here's the quote from the department of education: 
《通知》指出,要以考生为本,要做好招生服务和宣传工作。教育部要求各级教育行政部门、招生考试机构和高校要加强作风建设和职能转变,着力解决考生和社会关心、反映强烈的突出问题。为考生提供更加专业化的招生政策咨询服务、更加人性化的考试服务,热情关爱弱势群体考生。特别是要积极采取措施,为残疾人平等报名参加考试提供便利。有盲人参加考试时,为盲人考生提供盲文试卷、电子试卷或者由专门的工作人员予以协助。
As for what that means?
We've got what reads to me like fluff about how students and fairness are important, test structure needing to suit students, professionally serving the students who are taking the test, caring for test takers from "vulnerable groups." Then the second half of the second last sentence and the whole last sentence look more like meat, like actual statements. They're talking about "working for disabled people's equal participation in the test" and then the last sentence specifically addresses Blind people. "When Blind people are taking the test, they should be provided with a Braille test, an electronic test, or assistance from a worker." I'm guessing the assistance from a worker would be having the test read aloud, but I'm not sure.

That's actually a decent thing to be saying, I think. My issue is that saying this is a reversal of the old policy, and that it was done really close to the test date, which seems unfair to a lot of people- Li not knowing how or if he was really going to get to take the test and the test-writers not getting a whole lot of notice (though given that the legal right was already extant and it was just policy makers ignoring this, I don't have all that much sympathy for them.) This should have been the re-iteration of an old policy, not a change in policy, especially considering that other already extant laws guaranteed the right to take the exam and all. But since it's a new policy, hey, at least there's progress?

Now to start on stuff that's not ministry of education legalese. Happily, the news coverage I'm seeing is talking about how the opportunity to take the test is more important than how well Li Jinsheng did, which is something Li himself has been saying since well before the test. It's mostly commenters who seem to be calling it a waste of resources to have let him take it at all, and according to the one article with numbers, even that's a minority. Loud minority, but minority.

And now it's time for sleep for me, given that I have an oral proficiency exam in the morning. They generally ask about news, so I'm totally going to be talking about Li Jinsheng and how he is awesome and such. Next bit about him is probably going to be me finding words he said to journalists from the various articles and translating them into English, because they actually have a lot of words from him! There's some history stuff, too, and some of his words are about that- he did a similar thing with the version of the exam for students who did independent study about 10 years ago, so he's got a history of being activisty around higher education for blind folks.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Failure

References to cure, death, and instutionalization

Failure

Cure, Death, Institutionalization.
Waiting for just one wrong move,
Just one bad step and it's the institution for us.
Death of our choices (Beware the choice! Beware refusing it!)
Cure for other's discomfort over our existence.
Institutionalization, Death, Cure.

Make us become so numb,
To be less like me, and be more like you.
Beware our choices, beware refusing them,
Instead choose to control and hide them.
Waiting for just one wrong move,
Just one bad step,
Prove we are failures, all, to you.
Then enforce the endings three.

This might seem a strange poem to put up on Autistic Pride Day, to submit to the Autistic Artistic Carnival for Autistic Pride Day, but there are reasons.
This poem is not an expression of my pride. I do that often enough, here and elsewhere. When I stim openly, in public (as I will also do, this Autistic Pride Day,) that is an expression of my pride, that I am proud of who I am. When I assert my right to exist, as I am, in spite of all the messages otherwise, I am asserting my Autistic Pride. This poem is something different. This poem is why we need Autistic Pride. This poem is what we're up against. And this poem is echolalic. I take other's words and turn them around to say what I want to say.

The cure, death, institutionalization pattern: I've used it before in The Ends, and I pulled it from an article written by a disabled person about the representation of disabled characters in fiction. I've since lost the article, but the words stayed, repeating in my mind.

There's some pulled from The Saturday Nights, or from a song they played two name changes ago, Strangers Fate, which I've also written about before. The line's I'm using are: "Waiting for just one wrong move,/ Just one bad step./ I'm a failure to you." Those are from the refrain.

"Beware the Choice! Beware refusing it!" is a Young Wizards reference. (Book of Night with Moon, Tetrastych XIV: “Fire Over Heaven”) It's by Diane Duane, and as long as you're sticking to the New Millennium Editions I really recommend the series. The print editions are mostly OK except book 6, which is terrible in the original version and awesome in the new version.

The last reference is from Linkin Park's Numb, in the refrain. "I've become so numb" is the first line of the refrain, and the last three lines of the refrain are "All I want to do/ Is be more like me/ And be less like you." I changed it around, because while I do, in fact, want to be more like me and be less like expectations of what I should be, I'm not talking about what I want here. I'm writing about what they're pushing, which is for us to be more like the expectations.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Or not

Looks like I will actually spend the day partially in the physics lab helping students and most of the rest preparing my report for tomorrow's presentation on nanotechnology in China.
Analyzing media about Li Jinsheng and the college entrance exams will have to wait.