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Student Representative Renee's Speech at CIE Awarding Ceremony
2017-11-14

Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman. Thank you for having me here today. I am Wendi, I am an A2 student from Shenzhen College of International Education. And I am one of the many grateful CIE learners. 

First of all, I just want to thank all of my teachers, our teachers for their amazing classes and valuable advice in guiding us in the pursuit of subject knowledge. And I want to thank the people at CIE  for giving us this great opportunity to sit in the classrooms and take exams so that we could get into some of the most prestigious universities in the world. In this society we live in, we rarely get the chance to make our lives better by just reading books, doing past papers and taking exams. So thank you again, SCIE and all the other schools here, and the CIE people, for this beautiful and rare opportunity. 

But there is more. There is more to exams and universities. We are CIE learners. And learning is a verb, an action, a process rather than a result. A wise educator once said, (well, actually I just copied this from the website of Yale University): 

‘The essence of education is not what scores you get in the exams but gaining the ability to think critically and independently and to write, reason, and communicate clearly – the foundation for all professions.’

 

Many people have asked me, what is your favorite class at school, instead of stating a specific subject, I’d tell them: the lab-based class. ‘Why?’ they’d ask. To which I would reply: ‘Because that is when I feel like a scientist.’ Of course, in the case of science subjects, it is important to learn the theories and equations, these theories have been tested and verified by tons of experiments done in the past. By learning these, we are inheriting and celebrating the work of great scientists. But it is when we are in the lab, touching the beakers, chemicals and manipulating voltmeters, that wget closer to the where the hypotheses are actually put into testing, that we get closer to the ‘scientific’ part of the science subjects. Now I am in A2, and it’s even better, we get to design the experiments ourselves. And for psychology, which is also a science subject, by the way, we are always required to design experiments. We actually start first from learning experiments when in A1. And it is at those moments of learning to operationalise the independent and dependent variables and in controlling the constant variables, that we start to learn to think like scientists. 

The lab-based classes and the paper3s and paper5s are valuable in helping us developing a scientific mindset. And in evaluating the methodologies of the experiments, we start to think critically. We turn from passive receivers of knowledge to active thinkers.

 

And there is more to it, there is more to being smart, excelling at lab sessions, and getting the questions right. Being smart is never enough without the hard work. You know, for paper 1 in psychology, we sometimes get asked the most excruciating details in the research papers. I once questioned, I once questioned why this is even asked in the exams: what difference does it make if I remember the infants’ age in the experiments as 13 months or instead of 14? What are they really testing us? Memory capacity? So I went to ask my teacher, to which he replied: well, sometimes it’s about motivation. Are you motivated enough to remember all the details in the research papers in order to get good results in the exams? Yes, I thought; maybe they want to see our determination. I dare say that we may not have the highest IQs among the students who have taken this test in China or around the world, but we are definitely among the most motivated and determined ones. We have put so much hard work into previewing for classes, revising class notes, doing past papers and revising past papers; and doing more past papers, and revising even more past papers. And that’s part of the reason why we are here today, not to celebrate the intelligence that mom and dad give us, but to acknowledge the fact that we’ve made it.

 

But there is more. Indeed more. Even if we have good thinking skills, even if we have worked hard, we might not still get here today. There is, I dare say again, a slight component of chance and luck in the results we get. The results do not only depend on our hard work, they also depend on things that are just out of our control: the lighting in the exam room, whether the mosquitos in the exam rooms are hungry, the mood of the nice people who mark our papers, whether they just had big fight with others or just received good news, if they were very concentrated because our papers were the first papers they mark in the morning or if they became tired because it was approaching the end… These are just out of our control. This time, things work out for us. We are the ones accepting the awards. But at other times, we may get so lucky. Things may not work out in favor of us. Sometimes even if we have worked really very hard, we may still not get the results we want, because the decisions may depend on what other people do as well. But I just hope, that, in times like these, in times when we fail, we can still have the same determination that has brought us here today.

And finally, very best luck to your university applications.

Thank you very much.


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