Thursday, November 1, 2012

Our Mission Statement

Welcome to Beyond English Briefs ... and this inaugural post.

This blog will serve as a forum to showcase our "Go Ivy From China" students here at Beyond English, a firm dedicated to helping the brightest high school students in north China attend Tier 1 American undergraduate colleges (including liberal arts colleges), with a focus on those students pursuing studies in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

As noted on this blog's tagline, our "briefs" will be reflections on all things philosophical and legal, although there are no hard rules and our students will be allowed to write a "brief" (as broadly defined) on pretty much whatever fancies them.  Most briefs will be between 250-500 words (think Common App standard essay), although some briefs won't be so brief and might be as long as 4,000 words (think IB Diploma extended essay).  And we'll likely post occasional 150 word activity reports (think Common App extracurricular activity essay).

Most briefs will be based upon a weekly reading assignment or something that we viewed in class.  Our students have weekly reading assignments covering a wide-range of hot legal issues (for developing vocab in context and critical reading/thinking skills) and philosophical issues (e.g., something on ethics from The Stone blog in The New York Times, an article in Philosophy Now or a BMCR/NDPR book review).  However, the fact is that their reading assignments cover the gamut of political and literary magazines: If it's a source covered by Arts & Letters Daily, then it's fair game for a reading assignment.

In-class viewing and listening is from video and audio podcasts.  Key sources:  The Council on Foreign Relations, the Cato Institute, Washington Week in Review, (Harvard) Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Brookings, Meet the Press, Carnegie Council, Commonwealth Club, Global Voices, RAND, the IMF, Philosophy Bites, AmCham China, TPZ (archived episodes), Johns Hopkins SAIS, and numerous law schools (including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Chicago, Cornell).  And their daily at-school viewing assignment:  Good 'ol Brian Williams (and Lester Holt).

Saving the best (and the legal) for last, reading assignments just over the past month have included:

Bottom line:  They're smart students, scary smart kids.  And they like to be pushed, they want to prove themselves.  Having HYS-on-the-brain for focus probably doesn't hurt, either. (Note to Williams, Amherst, Swarthmore & Company: They have WAS-on-the-brain, too.  In fact, I tend to push liberal arts colleges with as much or even more fervor than national universities.)

For administrative reasons, I'll do the actual postings.  (Great Firewall access problems, I use OpenVPN, things like this.)  But the original author will be noted by their closing (with their English name) and label (with their Chinese name).


-- David Scott Lewis

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