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Student Composition 8:
History Is Surprisingly Similar

Students are quite different in grades of school. Some students always keep good records, some students often keep bad records. Why it is so? Let's analyze it. Firstly, good and bad students are different in purpose. Good ones have clear purposes, bad ones do not. Secondly, good students have good controls over themselves. They are self-disciplined students. Thirdly, good students have good ways of doing things. They have a good plan for arranging daily life. When they do things, they have their own way to do well. Fourthly, good students have their own characters. They weigh much on their dignity and respect. When they do things, they must do them well, at least to their own satisfaction. In this way they do things whole-heartedly. In doing so, it is full of interesting spirit and encouragement. They do things by their creative minds. Bad students do things passively. They know they have to do, but not so clear about why they should do well. So when they do things, they find them dull and monotonous.

If today in school, you are a good student, you will learn all the knowledge about your major well. Later you will be a successful person in the society. If you are a bad student, you will not learn what you should learn, and your ability will be imperfect. Later, you may be not so successful. All know our age is a knowledge economy time. Knowledge brings fortune. But knowledge must be learnt a little by little or step by step. So today's diligence means later success.

In the society, there are various kinds of people. From the pyramid, we know a theory: Very few come to the top as brilliant figures, but most stay in the bottom. And only these few have the vast bottom of fortune. Who will come to the top, the most diligent ones are. They work hard, they have clear purposes. They be famous scientists, statesmen, businessmen or others.

A famous man once says: Cleverness is 1% of inspiration and 99% of perspiration. The most important thing is the inside. Our physiology says, the major factor is the inside, it is the determining factor. It determines whether it will be a chick or stone in the future. And the minor factor is the outside. It nourishes and promotes the development. So a change, that is most important, lies in a student himself. Imagine the society, various kinds of people, which layer do you want to belong to? Do you want success or failure? Now build your confidence. History is a general rule, we are particular individuals. There are some examples who really broke the law. You can see Edison, once was common in school. If you realize it, you can change it. You can practise your particular law. If you accept the general rule, history is surprisingly similar, and you maintain your fate, keep it on and let God decide. God will not help. God blesses those who study hard. So depend on yourself, use your hands to create a beautiful world for you.

Teacher Joe's Comments:

This composition seems to have in important message. Unfortunately, this message is lost in a mass of poor word choice and phrasing. We find strange expressions in almost every sentence, starting with the title: "History is Surprisingly Similar". My first question is, "similar to WHAT?". My second question is, does this composition refer to history? I am expecting some kind of comparison with history, but the comparison never comes.

The first sentence is equally difficult to understand. What does the writer mean by "grades of school". I was expecting this to be a comparison of students in elementary school with students in high school, or first year university students with second or third year students. However, the comparison is actually between good students and bad students.

Next, the writer mentions "keep good records". As a result, I thought this was about record keeping, which they should do in an office. So, after just 18 words, I was wondering if the topic is history, or students, or schools, or record keeping in offices. This was a very confusing composition from beginning to end. The writer MUST learn word usage, not just memorize words and put them together at random.

How could we improve these three examples? First, the main idea of the composition is about self-improvement so a better title might be "Learn to Succeed". The writer makes a comparison to a pyramid, so maybe "Life is a Pyramid" or "The Pyramid of Life" could be good titles. If the writer does use the idea of a pyramid, then the "pyramid" theme must be used CONSISTANTLY throughout the whole composition. The second mistake, from the first sentence, could be "Let's compare good students with poor students. The third example is really about "getting good grades", not record keeping.

It would take many pages to comment on each mistake, so I will not do that here. Just about every sentence has two, sometimes three, mistakes. What students must learn is how to express themselves using natural English expressions. To do that, students must learn language - words and phrases - in context. In other words, do NOT learn from lists, but from stories. You can read news stories, short stories or novels, or read things on the Internet. When you read every day, you will soon see the way words are used and your own writing will improve tremendously.

Beyond all the poor word usage, this composition is full of vague sentences. In the end, I am left with the feeling that the writer's message is "bad is bad, but good is good". Well, that may be true, but I think the writer can say more than that. I would like to see some specific examples. Besides Thomas Edison, the writer gives no specific examples of people who succeed though they are just average or fail though they are very smart.

Revised Composition:

Thomas Edison was a very ordinary student who went on to become a great success. What was his secret? He said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration". We can see from a very early age which students will become "geniuses". The "smart" students are always those who are not afraid to work hard. Good students have a clear purpose, are self-disciplined, and have strong characters. Whatever they do, they feel they must do well, at least to their own satisfaction. Bad students, on the other hand, do things passively. The work only because they have to, not because they really want to. As a result, whatever they do seems to them to be dull and monotonous.

Of course, good students become successful members of society because of all their hard work. We live in a knowledge economy and the hard work to gain knowledge and experience brings good fortune. Our society could be compared to a large pyramid, with only the few brilliant people - scientists, businessmen, statesmen - at the top. These are the diligent, hard-working students of our youth. At the bottom we find all those unsuccessful, struggling people - the unmotivated students.

As Edison indicated, the most important thing is inside. Our ability to work hard, to sweat, to persevere is the determining factor in whether we succeed or fail. There are some minor factors on the outside, for example, the environment that supports and nourishes us. However, the outside environment will not determine whether something will be a chicken or a stone in the future. No, what counts is on the inside. So, I ask all students to look inside and find the will, the desire, the courage to work hard. Do you want success or failure? The choice, truly, is yours!

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