Grit is bad?

Grit is bad?

This is in response to an article from Aeon titled “Teaching ‘grit’ is bad for children, and bad for democracy“. After reading it, I asked myself, “Is grit really bad?”.

The article discussed the ideas behind the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. Citing several examples in the book, it discussed the darker side of grit. It says that grit results to people doing mean, stupid things or doing things that they should not have done. One particular example is from a football team’s chant: read more

Shadow Boxing

Shadow Boxing

You may have heard people talk about bad things that happened to someone else. “Poor guy, he lost his job“, “She was diagnosed with breast cancer“, or “They lost their child” are some of the examples. When this happens we may feel shocked and sad for the other person. We may even think “Thank God that did not happen to me!“.

But what if it happened to you?

Shadow boxing is an important technique used in combat sports, especially boxing. It does not involve any equipment, only yourself. Typically you do this with an imaginary opponent, or you can just do it in front of a mirror (so your enemy is you). This can even be used to “simulate” an upcoming fight against an opponent as you imagine him standing in front of you. read more

Why Boxing?

Why Boxing?

I admit, I am not a very active person. I would rather read a book or play a game than take a walk outside. But I have a “hobby” that I was doing for years now: boxing. Even though I don’t have other physical activities, boxing helps me to keep a reasonably healthy body.

So what do I like about boxing?

You are on the same ground as the greatest

What I mean is: you have the same basic equipment as the all-time greats. All boxers started with the same equipment and the same routine that you are doing in the gym.

Wherever you go, every boxing gym has these three tools: the speed ball, the double end, and the punching bag. read more

Smelting Yourself

Smelting Yourself

While driving towards home with my family, my younger sister asked me (to make sure I don’t fall asleep), “What is your New Year’s Resolution?“. I paused to think, then replied “I don’t have one and don’t believe in it“.

Explaining further, I told her that changing ourselves should not be tied to a specific date or time. We can start changing ourselves the moment we determine that it is the best course of action.

I do understand the logic behind New Year’s Resolutions: the new number on your calendar is a daily reminder of the things you promised yourself at the start of the year. However, if you find yourself procrastinating on those changes and saying, “I’ll just wait until the new year comes around”, then that is not a good habit. read more

Should you take an online course?

Should you take an online course?

The internet can be used as an effective learning platform, usually done through an online course. One of the most commonly-touted advantages of an online course is convenience and accessibility. The ability to study a material in your own time at any place sounds amazing indeed!

I enrolled in an online course offered by the University of California, Berkeley called Foundations of Data Science. This is an actual university course that they converted into an online course format. As the topic of data science interests me, I decided to give it a shot.

The course is composed of three parts with each part lasting for 5 weeks. To learn the material, you need to watch video lectures about a topic every week. A free online book is also available to supplement the video materials. At the end of the week, you need to finish a practical test (laboratory) using a Jupyter Notebook.

After 4 months, I have successfully completed the course. Here are some things that I learned about my experience completing an online course.

Technology is wonderful

As this is my first time taking an online course of any kind, I was wondering how they can assess what I have learned. Surprisingly, technology has advanced far enough to make it easy for teachers to assess students online.

In the data science course, we use Jupyter Notebooks to run examples and to take exams. This is basically a web application that allows you to run Python code in the browser and display the results in real-time. This allows the student to experiment using actual code and actual data without installing Python or any additional software on the computer.

The web application also allows teachers to use auto-grading software to assess the student’s exams. This means that they no longer need to manually check each individual student and instead the application handles it for them automatically.

The best part of this is everything is done in a web browser! For students, this means ease of use and accessibility. A modern web browser is an integral part of computers nowadays, and having it as a web application means that students can learn and take exams anytime and anywhere that has an internet connection.

Paying for it has advantages

One dilemma that I encountered when I was enrolling for the course is whether to purchase a certificate or just do it for free. The course is also offered for free to the public so there is an option to learn the same things without paying for anything.

Online course providers list several reasons why you might want to pay for the course. Main reasons are to support the teachers and making sure the service is running smoothly. For me however, I opted to pay for the course due to the following:

  • Motivation – unless you are a self-disciplined autodidact, there will be times when you will not feel like studying or taking exams for the week. Paying for the service helped me to curb this feeling by thinking about the money that I spent. I admit that this helped me more than anything to push through the end of the course. Looking back, if I had taken the course for free, I would have quit mid-way as I don’t have that many “chips on the table”.
  • Verified Certificate – another reason for me to pay for the course is that they offer a “verified” certification for completing the course. This will allow me to link the certificate in my resume or my portfolio and an external service can verify my accomplishment.
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