Becoming a citizen

Becoming a citizen of the U.S. may be something not many people really want to do these days, but this practice civics test for people to become naturalized citizens is a good review for people who are already citizens. I wonder if our current president could pass this test (especially question 9). Here are a few examples:

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“Naturalization is the process to voluntarily become a U.S. citizen if you were born outside of the United States. You may be eligible if you can show continuous U.S. residence for three to five years, are at least 18 years old, and demonstrate good moral character and loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. You must also take the English and civics test, unless you qualify for an exemption.” (from the Explore My Options page)

The application process for permanent residents to become citizens is $640. That’s a lot of money.

I was a little nervous taking this practice test. Like a TOEIC or TOEFL test, I should pass with flying colors, right?

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This story from a couple of years ago said that high school students in one US state had to pass a civics test to graduate. I don’t think this is too much to ask. And I think that people running for president, congress, and any other public office should have to take one.

These are the requirements for becoming a Japanese citizen. Again with the “good moral character”! Where’s the practice test for that? These requirements are pretty much the same as those for becoming a US citizen. Except you’re not allowed to hold dual citizenship in Japan.

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Writing prompt: What does being a citizen of Japan mean to you? Would you ever give up your Japanese citizenship to become a citizen of another country? Why do you think some immigrants to Japan become naturalized citizens? Do you know any?

Put some color in your life

This is a reminder about what school (and work) often becomes … and what it can be if we encourage more creativity.

It also reminds me a lot of the movie “Pleasantville”. The metaphor is different, but there are similarities in the use of color.  If you haven’t seen this movie, you really should. The Japanese title is 「カラー・オブ・ハート」and it stars Tobey Maguire, a few years before he was Spiderman. Here’s the trailer. Fans of the “Fast and Furious” series (Japanese title: 「ワイルド・スピード」may recognize Paul Walker, too.

“It all starts with a story.”

Pixar in a Box is free lesson series of videos and activities from Khan Academy about storytelling and making animated videos. Here’s the Introduction to Storytelling video:

If this interests you, go back and start with the introduction video to this lesson series on the Khan Academy site. These videos have transcripts, to help your listening comprehension.

This is a free course, and you don’t have to sign up to just enjoy it, but if you want to save your progress, sign up.

If you’re unfamiliar with Khan Academy, here’s Salman Khan’s TED Talk from several years ago, when the organization was just starting out:

Doing it his way

No, this is not about the US president’s choice of songs for his inaugural ball (or Sinatra’s daughter’s reaction to it).

It’s about a 10-year-old boy in Japan who decided he didn’t want to be “the nail that sticks out and is pounded in” by following societal norms that made him miserable. He decided to do things his own way.

“Japan’s 10-Year-Old Philosopher, Published Author, and Grade School Dropout” (from Tofugu)

Reading this, I sometimes thought he was just being a self-centered pre-teen, and sometimes that he was a lot more self-aware than many adults I know. It’s complicated.

One great debate topic:

“I think schools should be places you can go if you want to. People who like schools can go to school, like my sister. It means school is a good fit for them. So, I’ve never thought about changing the environment in schools. I didn’t “fit” school, so I chose not to go. It’s that simple. What needs to change is “yourself,” not schools or other people.”

I also was not aware of the Rocket Project for Talented Children. It’s great to see programs like this in Japan.