A.M. Benjamin got back his ACT scores from Oct 26th test. He made an improvement from 33 to 35. The breakdown was English - 36, Math - 35, Reading - 36, Science - 34. According to ACT report for 2013 there were only 90 students out of 34,514 that took the test that scored either 35 or 36 (76 for 35, 14 for 36) in the state of Utah. So this puts him in the top 0.26%.
Given that the subject of education is on a lot of people's minds nowadays, I would like to write a paragraph or two on how he got there. I believe in terms of natural aptitude he maybe is in the top 26%, but not in the top of 0.26%. When he was 9 or 10 he failed an IQ test for a special school for gifted kids. We laughed about it when he got 4 on Calculus BC at the age of 13, we laughed harder when he came back with 5 on Calculus BC and 4s on the other three AP tests, and now we are laughing even harder. So how does he do it. Some principles:
- Learning is centered in the home.
- Physical exercise with a challenge to overcome is a constant factor in his life.
- Spiritual education is important - he prays and studies the scriptures every day.
- Remove what I call "dumb stuff" - video games, low-IQ movies and TV shows, unintelligent texting and social media interactions, etc.
- He spends only 3 hours a day or so studying but he studies what is essential with the idea that he is to remember this for life as opposed to memorizing a set of disconnected facts and practicing mostly irrelevant skills to be quickly forgotten immediately after the test.
- We do not believe in artificial limits. 5 year old can be introduced to trigonometry. 8 years old is not too young to learn about differentiation and integration.
- Challenge and result based approach as opposed to process-based approach. The idea is that you throw a reasonable challenge that cannot be met without some possessing some fundamental knowledge. You let the student experience the frustration of trying to meet the challenge without posessing the necessary skills and knowledge. Then you teach him the skills and knowledge.
- Self-reliance. I do not know how many times I have told my kids to look it up online. Make the kid struggle and figure it out for at least 15 minutes before you tell him how to do it.
I believe the above principles properly implemented have the ability to mass-produce Benjamin's results. But enough educational philosophy and on to the workout.
The plan was to run our 3 mile tempo course from Nunn's Park to the mouth of the Provo Canyon. Benjamin was quite excited from his score report, so I knew that a sub-5:00 opening mile was in the cards. I warned him against it, but nevertheless still managed to see sub-5;00 pace in the wrong spot. That did not prevent Benjamin from running a decent time, though.
The plan was for him to run 3 miles in 15:30, and for me to make it to 2 miles. Benjamin perfectly executed the first mile running it in 5:07 - that mile should be done a little faster because it has more downhill than the other two. I was still in contact and even contemplating running all 3 with him, or at least making it to 2.5 in contact until he starts his grind. However, my plans were out of the window after the next 300 meters which he did in 54 - 4:48 pace. He knew he needed to up the effort in the second mile to keep the pace, but overdid it lacking the experience with his new level of fitness.
I was quite happy that I was still in contact. He eased off a little after that for the next 300 meters running it in 58 then turned up the heat again hitting an uphill 200 in 38. We ended up with 2:30 for the next 0.5 - 5:00 average done unevenly with some uphill involved. I was able to hang on for another 200 meters before losing contact. Benjamin hit a split of 10:13 at 2 miles (5:06 in mile 2), I finished in 10:16.8, briskly jogged a quarter to recover without stopping my watch, and then started running around 5:30 pace to the 3 mile mark finishing in 16:08. Benjamin paid for his surges in the second mile with a 5:12 last mile, but that still gave him 15:25 for 3 - a new PR for that course by 17 seconds, and a 29 second improvement since pre-Utah-Valley-Half period this year.
So using a direct pro-rated projection, his UVM half fitness assuming the same endurace as earlier this year comes out to 1:13:03. In reality, adjusting for an increase in endurance judging by his ability to hold pace and be comfortable at the end of longer tempo runs - probably around 1:11:30. I'd say on track for 1:08 next summer.
I ran total of 12, Benjamin 10.6, Jenny 4, Julia 3, Joseph 3, Jacob 2, William 1. William asked me this morning for some violin music. I found a 50 minute YouTube video of a Bach violin concerto. He watched all of it sitting still the entire time completely glued to the monitor. He might have some musical inclinations. He really likes the slow-motion video of Gebreselassie racing Tergat in the Olympic 10000 meter race in 2000 with violin music in the background.