9a to 1p
The United States’ pledge of allegiance claims that America is “undivisable with liberty and justice for all”. However, as a born American citizen, it takes an effortless argument to oppose against such a statement. After just ten months of participation in Joshua Block’s English and History classes, one could determine the simple fact that the USA has not only been living, but thriving by the system of profit over people, including their own people. It is no doubt that this system has been around ever since the colonization of America. And America’s continuation of such surely holds guarantee.
First and foremost, it is easy to say that America’s wealth began from the profits of slavery, considering the slaves were forced to work their lives for extremely little or no money, there was far more profit to be made. However, despite slavery itself, it seems as if matters and measures of profit have gotten worse in today’s America.
for example, over the year I’ve become aware of the “made in...” labels on my clothing tags. Nearly every shoe, every piece of clothing in my closet was made in what is called, a sweatshop, where poor workers (usually foreign) work long, underpaid hours to create materials (which are sold for exaggerated prices) for the USA. I became aware of my role as a consumer, which made me question whether I was to blame.
During this History course, students had a Modern Day Sweatshop Trial and took on roles as either usa consumers, poor country ruling elites, workers, system of profit and the USA multinational corporations, which was my group role.
The point of the trial was to decide the most guilty group by proving yourself most innocent of them all. what helped my team succeed was the hardened questioning we put on the ruling elites and system of profit. The system, however, argued that it was a system created not only for the people, but by the people. The people meaning, the usa multinationals.
After the trial, there was a required Modern Day Sweatshop Response. In that response I stated that the real question becomes “How can we change the conditions of the sweatshops, or end the sweatshops, and still have financial equality?”. But after the overall consideration that sweatshops are what uphold finance for both workers and multinationals, (seemings though it’s apart of the profit cycle and without it, everyone within it, including the workers would fall) I concluded that there is no simple answer to the question if one exists at all. The fact that the USA would resort to exploitation of poor foreigners just for extra profit just goes to show how little a human’s life is valued compared to money.
Taking the heat from America for a second, another History course that centered p.o.p was the Understanding the French Revolution course. The first activity we did for this topic was understand the social classes, called estates, within Europe at the time. The first estate was the Clergy, the second estate being the nobility, followed by the third estate which was everyone else: the peasents.
The whole problem with the French revolution was the Clergy’s persistant price risings upon the third estate which eventually caused the uproar. As if the Clergy hadn’t been fortunate enough, they’d continued to rise taxes upon the poor for their own beneficial profits, making living for the third estate nearly impossible.
During my research of the French revolution, I read a quote from the topic of rural poverty that stated, “Those who have the most intelligence or are accustomed to the work, hire others and make a profit from their labor”. “Those” meaning both the clergy and nobility. This example alone shows that p.o.p is not just a United States predicament, but a worldwide predicament.
Returning to America’s modern day profitting, my History class explored the world of advertising. While watching a video called, The Ad and the Ego on how advertisements are a secret means of mind control and manipulation, we journaled the important points that stood out to us.
It was stated that the average American is exposed to over 1500 ads a day. At first, it seemed a bit far-fetched, that is, until I realized the hidden ads and just how surrounded by ads we are, that is is indeed like air, i hadn’t noticed it at all. One of the most important quotes that stood out to me was, “Advertising is a system of education. With it, comes truth and consequences”. I thought, just what can ads educate me on? Ads, overall “teach” people that they are not good enough and will never be good enough until they buy the product being advertised in front of their face. They “Teach us to be consumers, happiness can be bought they are instant solutions and products can fullfil our daily needs”.
Just the thought that the United States would allow such mind control to spur upon their people is shocking. What is the point of this? Well, money of course. For us, the people, who don’t notice the manipulation it isn’t about “manipulation or false unconsciousness, it's about getting into their dream life”. Which is why advertising has overtime been modified to fit lifestyle and emotions which makes it easy to convince one to buy the (most likely) unneccesary product.
Just earlier this weekend I was watching a movie, that I’d seen a million times before, on television. It was an hour and a half movie on from 2pm-4pm. Meaning advertisements would be running in between the movie for a total of 30 minutes. However, me knowing the movie by heart noticed that there were scenes being cut out of the movie, not for the sake of the channel’s viewing contents, but just scenes being cut out. Whenever the movie went to commercial, the commercials were playing for far longer than usual. I’d then concluded that they’d unneccesarily shortened the movie just to elongate commericals.
It’s because of advertisements and their sneaky skills of persuasion that American citizens easily become consumers and contribute to the existance of sweatshops. This does not justify the United State’s desperate and drastic measures for profit, but it does add cause and reason to it.
Earlier this year, we learned about the at the time current Keystone Pipeline desicion. The Keystone Pipeline was suppose to be a 1700 mile long pipe going from Canada to the United States to carry “abundant, reliable and cheape”r oil. This manner was another U.S. scheme for profits, despite the effects on the American and Canadian people. The pipeline risked toxics, destruction of nature and farms, and those 180k promised construction jobs would end within the first few years. Despite those risks and more, for the sake of saving money and profitting of oil companies, the USA was determined to get the keystone approved.
Also, Many times in English we journaled about our learnings and understandings about prisons. Just last month we journaled about things about prisons that had stood out to us. In our journal on May 13th, I noted that the USA government were not only funding more prisons than schools, but that the current budget cut situation is so that money taken from public schools can be invested in new prisons. This shows that the government finds it easier to invest in our failure than success. However, taking away a child’s chance or opprotunities of success only leaves extra room for failure, so it seems as if this investment was purposely made.
In 1994, Ponaldo Maledo wrote that “History shows us convincingly and factually that the United States has systematically violated the Pledge of Allegiance”. I have only seen more and more evidence this year. The United States continuously contradicts the Pledge of Allegiance. Our government would rather grow the green in their pockets than the green they walk on, talk about the hurtful truth. Thanks to Mr. Block’s English and History classes, I now have an open mind and open eyes to the fact that Profit over People is a system that indefinitely makes the world go ‘round.
There’s different sides to ourselves that we don’t really see at a first glance. Those parts of us can be brought out when we create poetry and view things about the world in different lenses. We not only learn about ourselves but we learn sides to people surrounding us and people who are thousands of miles away. Throughout the year, I’ve been able to see parts of myself that I haven’t seen before. Some parts surprised me and some parts led me to believe that there is something inside of me worth searching for and worth continuing beyond Mr.Block’s classroom.
In the duration of our English and History classes, I’ve found a particular interest in poetry. Poetry is a form of self expression and illustrates how identity can be found in anything. I enjoyed reading and analyzing poems but I especially loved creating my own poems. I was able to put myself into my work. I always put myself into my work whether it’s my opinion or beliefs in response to assignment questions, but in the poetry unit I was able to better talk about myself and let my audience know more about me. In my poem uniquely titled “Symone,” I let people see a side of me that they probably didn’t know. When you think of poetry, you think of fun rhymes such as “the green cat swung the blue bat” or something similar, but I learned that poetry is powerful with or without catchy phrases. One line to my poem was “I secretly have an unusual fascination with popsicles in the summertime, fireworks on the fourth of july and sand castles/ I assume it’s because I often find myself dedicating time to things that will only last a few moments.” Cool right? I was able to express myself in a creative way comparing moments that don’t last forever in contrast to what I dedicate my time on whether it’s relationships, friendships, etc. All in all, the poetry unit was the part I loved most about the year. I’ve been writing poetry on and off again but I found a particular spark this year. Poetry is, to me, the best form of self expression. You’re feeling sad? Write a poem. Spilled your milk on the table? Write a poem!
Seeing things in a different lens help create a better understanding of the world. Our lessons about colonization, has led me to learn that we often find ourselves trying to make other places like us because we, as a country, believe that we’re above third world countries. For example, when we learning about Haiti, I learned that we made them kill all of their pigs so none would get infected by the few that were sick. I also learned that we made them change their exchange routines in order for us to cheat them out of their money and live off of their profits, which isn’t fair at all.
I learned that although countries are different from the U.S., their way of doing things aren’t necessarily wrong. They have adapted their ways of doing things and it isn’t our place to try to come in and change it no matter the reason. Sometimes we come into other countries genuinely trying to help, but they don’t need help all the time.
Throughout the school year, by doing the work I’ve noticed that I have changed. I found parts of me within my work, within the problems we inquiry, and within our classroom discussions that ultimately shaped me into a different person. I’m not inferring that I changed as a whole, but I now have a new insight on the world and developed new ways of thinking about them. I’m very grateful for the chance to learn more about the world and identify myself within it. I’ve enjoyed the lessons throughout the year as a whole.
“No matter what hath done guilt is hidden in all. For all things truly wicked started from an innocent.” Imagine a court case with the jury, lawyers, defendants, prosecutors, the security, the audience, and most importantly the judge. Each and every people, in that room whether they have or have no important relation to the case has a role and is designated to play it right and accept it.
In my history class we have researched and role played numerous trials as if we were really the character given to us and through those experience I’ve come to a closing understanding that no one is really innocent. Everyone is guilty of something and for that being we must all share the blame. One ordinary person can change everything with one act. Therefore, one turning their back on the situation as if it didn’t matter and it is not their problem automatically lays a splash of guilt across their face.
For example, in my trial notes for sweatshops going on nowadays the us consumers were second innocent in my opinion (I don’t have notes on the poor workers because that was the role my group played) mostly because they are just the consumers. They buy what they like and the money goes where it goes but during the cross examinations in my notes they stated “They are under a veil in which the multinational corps keep them under a small box of not knowing how and where their clothes are actually made.” and “need to focus on their own problems first than to help others on the spot” Even with that being said in analyzing these statements there is still guilt held securely under all the sympathy in it.
Though they may be accusing the multinational corporations for trying to keep their sweatshops in secret but they could have open their minds more to where does their clothes comes from and though they have problems of their own that is what makes you a better and greater person, to pause for a second, get yourself stable, and hold out a hand for someone in need of a lift. But they didn’t do it. They just went about their lives as if the situation didn’t exist. That is partial to what makes them guilty in the trial. But even before this happened we researched a bit to introduce us to what we’d be getting ourselves into and in my journal entry #31 I jot down some notes on.
“I think religion helps us to deal with what we don't understand, with what overwhelms us, with what makes life hard. It helps us gain an anchor” A quote that I was able to grab and collect in my journal entry #13 along with other very insightful quotes and my reactions to them. In the religion unit that was taught in history class I realized that religion can either unite us or separate us. Journal entry #13 sort of shows the positive side of religion but in journal entry #9 it shows a bit of the opposite. It talks about orientalism and how much ignorance it brings. Religion seems to be the backbone or foundation that some people tend to fall back on when they have nothing else. In that there can and will come unity and acceptance with oneself and others. But then there are some other people who tend to go bit extreme to the point where other people’s lives can be in danger. Journal entry #9 is an example for orientalism is still out there today. But that doesn't mean we can't change it. I have come to analyze at many different angles that religion can be both good and bad but it is mostly up to the people and how they choose to take it to decide.
As history and English class come to an end I start to reflect on the common themes that we have focused on this school year. Colonization, power,nonviolence/violence and the use and misuse of sweat shop are just to name a few that we have focused on.
We all know that the united states is the number one richest country in the world, but as a whole we are struggling ourselves and we always go for “what’s the cheapest”. In Mr block’s English class we were first introduced to a text called “Are your hands clean?” I thought it was a trick question but then I began to think about the not so obvious answers.When Thinking about this question I first thought of sweatshops and how my clothes and shoes are all made in foreign countries. Workers get treated very poorly and they don’t get paid a lot for making the clothes.They are in the factories for 23 hours a day just to earn a little bit of money to feed there family.In the video Zoned for a slavery ,the man informed us that the workers earn 12 cents for every shirt they produce, but in the stores in the US we may pay 20 dollars for a shirt but the workers only get paid 12 cents for the shirt so where is the other $19.88 going? We will never know. When coming to conclusion I knew that my hands were not clean.
In history class we were assigned to do a trail about Modern Day Sweatshops In the trial our roles were either a US consumer, poor country ruling elites, the workers, system of profit and US multinational corporations. My role was to be a US consumer.It wasn’t easy to defend the consumers because we consumers do take part in sweatshops. We buy clothing that are made in sweatshops because it’s cheaper. Stores like American Apparel clothing are made in the US and we could easily buy clothes from them but we chose not to because they are "Too expensive". “Why pay more when you can pay less” says my friend Warda. We girls love forever 21 but they use sweatshops weather we know or not they do.In the video “Made in L.A” We learned a lot about the whole Forever 21 operation and how everything works/ Workers were sick and tired of how they were being treated so they decided to hurt the owners Non-violently by going on a strike and protesting for what they believe in, and it worked. The owners finally gave into what the workers wanted and they didn't use violence to handle there problem instead they hurt them by just protesting.
Speaking of non-violence. Non-violence and violence played a huge role in the themes we learned this school year.In History class,Mr. Block had us write a journal which was about power as well as violence. I thought that “Being non-violent was more powerful than being violent, it takes more work to be non-violent, being violent doesn't make you powerful it makes you look crazy”. After doing the journal we watched a movie about a man who stood his ground and got his way by doing things non-violently. His name was Gandhi. In the movie Gandhi and his followers were treated very badly but through it all they didn’t use violence to show that they had power. Just them being silent and taking all the abuse showed how powerful they really were.
We didn’t just focus on non-violence we also talked about violence as well. In the beginning of the school year we read a novel called “Lord Of The Flies” .In the book teens were stranded on an island and they were faced with many problems being on that island unsupervised. In the novel the kids kill each other to survive on the island. Being in power caused them to act that way causing them to handle situation more violently... They didn't care if you were they're best friend if you got in there way they would kill you.This was the first violent act that we learned about. Later,we started to talk about colonization and how it affected people as well as the country as a whole. We had to pick a country that we wanted to focus on and then create a museum about the country and how they benefited or didn’t benefit from colonization. I focused on Sierra Leone. My project was called Diamonds Of Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone They use a lot of violence to get there point across.For example soldiers known as the RUF recruit children from different villages in Africa and force them to become a soldier.If they reject they will be shot right on the spot. If they accept they go from village to village shooting other innocent people and forcing them to do as they say.
Overall the common themes that we learned in Mr. Block’s class helped me have a open mind on things and they really helped me out. We learned lots of more themes but these are my general understandings that I wanted to focus on.
I’m a 16 year old high school student, currently going through a large budget cut along with 1,000’s of other students in the Philadelphia School District. In the midst of this havoc I’ve have learned things that make me forget the lack of hope our state has for our education. Mr. Block, my 39 year old English/ History teacher plays a pivotal role in this experience. In his classes he has allowed words not to only stain our pages, but our perspective on life. Starting off the year with descriptive pieces, language essays, to creating dance pieces, no matter what the style Mr. Block has allowed our creativity to be catharsis.
“Little hips swish as her fate crashed into a hoop”
(Above is a link to my poems)
We began a new unit with a name I know far too well, poetry. Something I believe a classroom could not teach, instead it must be naturally instilled in a person. But I proceeded learning many different styles, one in particular was my favorite, abstract. When using the abstract style you use words to leave your audience questioning the thought or story you were trying to portray, depending on the audiences perspective. Mr. Block had us write a number of poems all of which we used different style. Throughout this unit I had the chance to display my musings and share them with my fellow classmates. This had to be one of my favorite units. The only way these poem could be written was after I used my creativity to speak of things I never would speak of, which is a reason why I love abstract so much. It allows you to say what you mean without having to say it.
(Above is a link to my play)
Then there came this lady Kate McGrath was her name, energetic, whimsical, and determined to haul a play out of us. I was very excited to write an extensive piece of work and be able to call it mine, but then the actual work kicked in. Long hours of thought to come up with creative dialogue that only covered about half of page. The long editing process along with the lengthy emails kate had sent us with some ideas on how to better our pieces. I was tired and I wanted to give up. Then came the Playwrights retreat, there I met some amazing playwrights and other students who were trying to better their plays. We read each others plays and I received some amazing feedback, had an awesome lunch, and exchanged some numbers. This made me push myself to conclude my play. Then May rolled around, it was time to submit my play and I had no idea on how to bring it to an end so I thought. I used everything I had learned from Kate, Mr. Block, and the playwrights retreat, but I had to allow my creative juices flow and there it was. My ending.
Modern Day Slavery
(Above is a link to my sweat trail)
I shop a lot in places where the source laborers are hidden, for example one of my old favorites Forever 21. Well, this use to be a franchise build on sweatshop labor, using undocumented immigrant to make our clothing. Paying them less than minimum wage and turning a blind eye to their undocumented selves, yet ratting them out if an inspector would make a visit. While also making them work in unsafe conditions sometimes abuse would be form of consequence. Later on we watched a documetrary of a few women who worked in Forver 21’s sweatshop and watched them struggle to gain their justice. At the end of the movie they accomplished their goal they forced Forever 21’s CEO to pay them more and better their working conditions. Later we had a trial to get to the source of this injustice. Using five real life criminals, the consumers, the system, ruling elite, workers, and the corporations. The consumers are us, the ones who purchase these articles of clothing. The system is this idea of money over people, which is a pretty skewed theory. The ruling elite are the countries presidents and dictators who allow these companies to abuse their citizens. The workers, well they’re the people who make our clothes. And the corporations are the Forever 21, Gap, etc, who use the citizens to their advantage. After this trial we concluded that the corporations were the guiltiest. This trial made me want to look further into immigration and it led me to this. A documentary that combined art with stories of immigration, they use a butterfly to symbolize immigration and instead of calling it immigration they call it migration. Butterflies migrate. They used their creativity to better the lives of other undocumented migrants, which is pretty cool. Before this trial I have never paid attention to the inferiority placed upon migrants.
(Above is a link to my Journal entry talking about my views of violence and nonviolence)
Mohandas K. Gandhi was introduced or should I reintroduced to Mr. Blocks History class this quarter. While studying this great man we explored the impacts violence and nonviolence can have on a society. Violence, in my eyes is the easy and vengeful way out of a horrid situation because you lose your humanity to save humanity. Whereas nonviolence allows one to display their humility all the while saving humanity. My class watched the story of Gandhi’s life and how his peaceful movement against British colonizers has helped save the independence of Indians and many others who have followed his ideology. Gandhi used his creative mind to save his country, also relieving himself and his followers of all of the hatred they once had inside of them. This unit helped us move into our colonization unit. In this unit we explored many different countries who were colonized by European Empires and are still being negatively affected today.During our many discussions Mr. Block brought up some truth, he said “ Well aren’t these colonized countries fairly rich?” The class said yes, but a fellow classmate of mine said “ Yeah, they are, but the indigenous people aren’t. They are suffering.” In this journal entry I got the chance to explore this idea #40.
Jarvis Jay Masters
(Above are links to Masters; autobiography)
Our Last unit was used to explore this American paradox of prisoners to wealth. “The United States has less than 5% of the worlds population ,but has almost a quarter of the worlds prisoners. What’s even more skewed than these statistics are the people who make them. A black man is more likely to be apprehended for a longer period of time or apprehended at all longer than a white man. Racism? I thought this issue had already been swept under the rug of injustice.
Then we explored one man’s journey on death row named Jarvis Jay Masters. He was a troubled kid in and out of prison system since he was a child. On June 8, 1985 Jarvis was sentenced to death, he was accused of sharpening a knife that was used to kill a prison guard. Masters did not kill the guard, he was accused of sharpening the knife that had killed the guard. Weird, huh? So Mr. Block had us read some part of Master’s autobiography, and answer a few thought questions here. Masters used his creativity to write this book which was cathartic for him. He allowed his situation to be a creative piece instead of being another accounted for statistic.
This unit has also answered my question of where our 250 million dollars cut in our school budget is going, a large portion or all of that money is going to prisons.
Creativity is cathartic. When one creatively relieves themselves of the things they bottle up inside they create something that they can not only display for themselves, but share to the world and can possibly help someone else. The reason why I say creativity is cathartic is because everyone does not believe that everything thing is art. But creativity is everything, the way we walk talk, walk, and write are creative because we are all original.
“Everything you can imagine is real.” ― Pablo Picasso. This sophomore year English and History has been a total rush. Like something out of a scene of Fast and Furious, it was a constant motion forward of learning and growth in myself. English was my chance to break my shyness and really give me the opportunity to express myself. History was my chance to learn more about current events in the world, along with old events that I could connect one to the other.
In English class, we did many things that gave me the opportunity to express myself. The best example for this would have to be when the class did the Iron Stream Poetry Wikis. It was exciting because I love music, and music is a form of poetry. Being able to express my feelings without being judged was such an amazing feeling. A great opportunity that rose from this was being able to hear other people’s poems and having other’s hear my own and criticize and help me make them better. That was a good way for me to enhance my poetry.
I’ve always been interested in the Army. I’m not sure why, but I find it as a touching subject, and somehow the stories always find their way to my heart. When I hear about troops dying in combat or being seriously injured, I always put forth my respect to them, because they are the truth behind my safety. When we had the opportunity in English to do a podcast about “Crossing Boundaries” I figured I should do mine on the U.S. The U.S. always finds itself in the middle of a conflict simply because we are nosey and try to hard to fix things. This is how our wars outbreak, by not minding to ourselves. I interviewed my brother on this subject in my podcast. It was intriguing what he had to say, and very interesting as well.
My favorite unit in History, which was a pretty recent one, was where we learned about Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi is more than just a man of peace to me. He was an inspiration to me, an idle. He is the reason I began to see the world in a different perspective. I use to be agressive and I constantly had a temper. My temper is caused by my anger issue that unfortunately is passed to me from my father. What this means for me, is little things will enhance my frustration and temper that usually don’t bother someone else. I began to learn and read about Gandhi and how his methods of nonviolence worked. This was where I began to change and take control of my anger and suppress it when I have too. Our History Journal, #39, asked “Which is a better method? Non Violence or violence?” My response was aimed towards the method of Nonviolence because I strongly agree with it, depending on the situation. “I personally push nonviolence to be more powerful, because no matter how provoked you get, the ability to control your anger and the physical want to hurt someone is strongest.”
Another unit in History when we learned about the Arab Springs and made videos about them. We got into a group and picked a country and did research on it. My group was given the country Bahrain. In the video we discussed the violence in Bahrain and how the people are trying to protest against the President of Bahrain for change.
One of my favorite English Journals was #41 when we were asked “When was the last time someone forgave you or you forgave someone? Is it possible to always forgive someone?” This was during the unit about the Holocaust. My response was personal and had meaning to myself. A part I said for the second question, if it’s possible to always forgive someone, I wrote: “Yes, it is always possible to forgive others...Just like those people who had a choice, you as well have a choice. It’s your own personal decision on if you should or shouldn’t forgive that person. Forgiveness is the step in moving forward, it helps put conflicts in the past to stay.” I believe forgiving someone is the step to peace.
Lastly, relating to my world peace can be made through us topic, I would like to discuss about the beginning of the year in English class when we read Lord of the Flies. The book was based on a group of british schoolboys who get trapped on an island after a plane crash. There is tension in the group, while they begin to create a colony. Even at one point, there is judgement, violence, and war for leadership. The boys learned to coop with one another, and peace was created at the end. Although there was peace, the path to peace was rocky and rough. I wrote my paper on this, the concept of leadership, for English.
In Mr.Block’s English and History class, I grew mentally in many ways. I learned a lot about the world and how there are lies thrown at the people of countries in the greed for power, or how sweatshops in China have nets at the top of the factories to reduce suicide, or even how poems can be as simple as 2 lines. I was able to expand my mind in these two classes. The expansion of my mind enhanced my sight and vision on the world. Personally I am more disappointed in the U.S. government even more now. I hope I can use what I learned in Mr. Block’s History and English class even further in my high school experience. It was an honor being able to learn all of the things I did.
I remembered when I was younger, I was bound to be confused in history class. And although writing and reading was my strongest subjects during elementary and middle school, I was very uninterested during english class. Everything I learnt was similar to each other or typically not surprising. I felt like I was missing out on a lot of things that I’d find more interest in, something that gets me excited or something that’d lit my eyes hearing about. It was same thing every year in history and english. Nothing out of the ordinary in english and history class. School was becoming just like what see you on TV. My first year of high school wasn’t as bad as I thought it was during english and history. In full honesty, during my sophomore year of attending to english 2 and world history class, it doesn’t even feel like I’m in here to advance in reading or learn about our fathers of America. I have never learnt so much in my life until this year, thanks to Mr. Block’s classes.
In history, I learnt that everyone needs to share the blame in any type of situation. For example, we learnt about the fall of the Aztecs empire. We set up a court system and divided everyone equally into groups. Such as the Aztecs, Cortes, Cortes’ men, etc. We all had to defend ourselves and proven not guilty. It was very hard and I realized in the end that it is everyone’s fault. I didn’t make this conclusion until I wrote the final thoughts about the Cortes’ trial. In this piece of writing, I stated “And this isn't coming from my point of my view because I defended Cortes. I see that the system is also pretty guilty as well as King Charles V, in fact everyone is evenly guilty.” The same went for who’s responsible for sweatshops in third world countries. We set up a court, and divided the entire class into equal groups. The groups were national cooperations, U.S. consumers, sweatshop workers, etc. In the end of the trial, we had to write our final thoughts on sweatshops. In my response to modern day sweatshops, I stated “This is profit, it is literally all about making money. People are blinded by money. People are now brainwashed by profiting, marketing, and doing business. This is how the system works. And we, the people, make up the system of profit.” Every single group that was apart of this trial, whether it was the sweatshops workers, the leaders of the country, the consumers, they all had to take part of dividing the guilt because everyone was involved due to money. That is how I made my conclusions from this project that everyone is bound to be guilty.
Throughout attending to Block’s english and history class, I think about stuff that I usually don’t really have a thought about. For example, simply the definition of freedom. I have never sat down and actually put thought into defining what freedom is to me. In my english journal entry #36, I stated “Freedom is doing whatever the hell you want as long as you’re not harming yourself or harming anyone else.” This is my first sentence of the journal entry and pretty much what I generalize every type of freedom.
As time went by, we started to get in depth about identity. As I grew up, I was struggled a lot with my identity. What exactly was my ethnicity, how I carry myself around and just being me at all times. When we talked about identity, I realized identity has a lot of characteristics that I never thought about. Such as physical appearance, who you really are, what you’re hiding, etc. In a project that I worked on, I chose to make up a question that would get you thinking. It was “In what ways do people confuse physical appearance with identity?”. I made a Prezi presentation and the process of making it was awesome. I just enjoyed the creativity. But of course, I learnt so much about how everyone’s identity is important because it’s crucial that we are being ourselves and not trying to impress society in any type of way. For example, in this project, I used characters from famous Disney movies such as Beauty and the Beast, Shrek, The Princess and the Frog, etc. I then compared it to reality about Victoria Secret Models and how crazy it is that they’re underweight for their height. In the end, I stated “We, confused our identity with our physical appearance” along with a picture of my classmates. I said this because the society we make up, is brought upon us. I believe that nowadays, a lot of people do confused their physical appearance with their identity.
Still talking about the depths of identity, in history class, everyone was required to write a play and submit it to an interesting young playwrites program in Philly. During this personal time, I discovered the world of transexual people. It sounds a bit odd but it became my passion to grow up and help these transgendered people get through harsh times. I found myself reading and watching about transgendered people. I then went through a phase that I wanted to be a pediatric gender identity therapist and help children with transexual issues. The name of my play is "Authentic Woman." I decided to make my main character of the play a male to female transexual. Everyone thought it was a bit weird but I loved my idea of having a transgendered character. In one of the lines I wrote, my main character stated, “You don’t understand either... You don’t know how it feels to pretend you were a straight boy when you were a young teenager, you don’t know how it felt when I tried so hard to fit in by wearing all the boy clothes I’ve had, got my hair always cut short, having to work harder because I’m the “man” of this house. I’m not a man, Apsara, I’m a woman. You’ll understand in the future.” This was very important to hear from the main character. It reveals an entire different perspective of this character. It shows that what he looks on the outside does not define who he is in on the inside. And just thinking about people struggling with their identity and revealing it to the world, is so hard and heart wrenching sometimes.
Towards the end of our unit, we started to learn about the peace maker Gandhi. We started to get in depth about violence and something switch in my head when Mr. Block asked us “what is more powerful? violence, or nonviolence?” I completely onto the violent side but slowly mellowed in between of both after a class discussion. In my history journal entry #39, I stated “I think violence is more powerful. Because I go by the line ‘no one listens until someone dies.’” I do kind of agree with this statement but after learning about Gandhi’s peaceful march and how much he stood up for rights, I realized nonviolence can really win.It’s been a crazy learning experience.
I remember when I first heard that I was going to be in both of Mr.Block’s English and History classes. “I don’t want my advisor as a teacher for two of my classes this year” I thought to myself. But that was 9 months ago and since then, I’ve learned more in 9 months then I ever thought I would in two years. I’ve learned more about African American History in World History than I did taking the class in my 9th grade year. I learned about current events that I would have never even took the time to learn about because I don’t turn to the news. But why turn to the news when your classroom has all the information that you need inside?
Throughout the year, I’ve learned many things. One thing that stuck with me and will continue to throughout my life is that “Language is not just a form of speaking.” Before English class, I never thought of language as broadly as I do now. Language isn’t just something you only speak. You can express language in many ways. You can express it through art, movement, or even writing. One way I’ve expressed language in a different form is through a online website called Prezi that showcased my project from a novel I read called “Persepolis”. This book taught me a lot about identity and I reflected that through my project.
I learned that language can make you see the world differently like looking through a different lens to help one create a better understanding of the world. Viewing this not just from your eyes, but from the eyes of others in the city, country, and the world can help you understand much more about others cultures and their lives. Looking through a different lens made me realize that not everyone had the opportunities and privileges that others may have. Teenagers have to work and can’t even attend school in some country’s because they have to support their families. Looking through my lens showed me that I shouldn’t take things for granted. For every person that has, there is someone who has not.
Almost everyday through out the school year, my class wrote journals for English and History. The journals were based off of we were covering in class for that unit and the different projects we did based off these topics. Writing about what we were doing in class gave me a better mind set of what we were learning. Doing journals everyday was something I always looked forward to coming to class. To me, that was the best part of class. Being able to express your opinions in words. A day in English class, we had to write an optimistic version of what is going to happen to the world in the next 50 years. This journal entry made me realize a lot about the world and what it is going to come to. It made me want to make a change so future generations could live better.
Below is a link to a presentation of qoutes that I've read and heard through out the year in both English and History class.
(Please copy and paste link)
Below is an History Journal that stood out to me the most this year.
Below is a link to my poetry portfolio.
What is negative space?
Negative space is a picture in black and white showing difference in the lights vs. darks
Explain how you found negative space in
1. your cut out?, 2. in your still life drawing?
I found it through the different colors in my cut out, I found it in the realness of the still life.
Why does it help an artist to see in negative space?
Because it gives you two views to art.
Does seeing in negative space enhance drawings, why or why not?Yes sometimes.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Book Review
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is a book about a teen who tries to commit suicide and is put in a mental institution. This book was made into a movie in 2010 featuring Keir Gilchrist, Dana DeVestern, and Zach Galifianakis.
Craig, a teenager who just got into a prestigious school in New York City, feels overwhelmed with all his work. On top of that, his best friend Aaron is dating Craig’s crush, Nina. Craig begins to get depressed and uses drugs to feel better. The drugs do not have a lasting effect. After Craig tries to commit suicide, he calls the suicide hotline. He is told to check himself into a mental hospital. There, Craig meets Bobby who shows him around the hospital. He also meets Noelle, who is in the hospital for cutting herself. Later, he falls in love with her. Through art, Craig is able to rehabilitate himself.
Craig has to overcome a lot in this book. Throughout the entire book, Craig has to deal with an internal struggle. This book covers some serious and grim material. Therefore, it is good that Bobby is there for some comic relief. Sometimes, when you think the book may get too intense, Bobby is there to lighten the feel. It makes the book much easier to read. Some themes in this book are peer pressure and self-identity.
While Craig’s situation is an extreme one, I found some aspects of his experience relatable. I think anybody can react to feeling pressured like Craig was. Craig just let his feeling of being pressured take over him. This book has a very basic human aspect to the book. On the other hand, the setting and other characters in the book can often be hard to relate to. For most, a mental hospital is not a typical setting. It is not a place most of us experience. In addition to the mental hospital being a difficult place to picture, Craig’s experience in the mental hospital is an unusual to say the least. This makes the book less relatable.
While slow at times, this is still a decent book. Craig’s feelings, while maybe not coming in such intense forms, are pretty common. This helps make the book more enjoyable. Craig’s experience in the mental hospital, on the other hand, is something that not most people experience. However, on the down side, I found it hard to immerse myself in the book because of its pace. The funny aspect of the book made up a little bit for the pace.
I would recommend people read this book. If you enjoy reading this will probably be easier for you. For people who find themselves bored when they read, they also might get a little bored with this book. To those people I would also say continue reading because overall, this book is definitely worth it.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Playlist
Love Buzz - Nirvana
Love Buzz is about being in love with someone. It exemplifies how Craig feels towards Aaron’s girlfriend, Nina. The song is also loud and intense. When someone listens to it, they can feel the frustration in Kurt Cobain’s voice.
Adam’s Song - Blink 182
This song is about a child who wants to commit suicide. He feels like he is under a lot of pressure. Adam’s Song is written in the form of a suicide note which can make listening to it unsettling and uncomfortable, but also fits with the book at points.
Jumper - Third Eye Blind
This song is about trying to get someone not to jump and commit suicide. It is analogous to the part of the book where Craig is talking to the person from the suicide hotline.
Me and My Friends - Red Hot Chili Peppers
In this song, Anthony Kiedis sings about all of his friends in his band. It is similar to Craig meeting new friends in the mental institution. Much like his friends in the mental hospital, this song is also a little strange.
Teenage Dirtbag - Wheatus
This song is about a guy who likes a girl. This fits with how Craig feels towards the end. In addition, the love interest’s name in the song is Noelle just like in the book.
Always Look On The Broad Side of Life - Monty Python
After some time in the mental hospital, Craig starts to feel better. This song exemplifies that to some extent. It is a cheerful tune even though the lyrics are kind of grim. It is also a funny song to show that the book has some funny parts.
Inquiry: Inquiry was used since I didn't really know much about my element. This project for me involved a lot of inquiry. I wondered things like what can I draw for my element and whats the atomic number of it.
Research: To start this project, we first needed to know about the element that was given to us. Research was used to help find out what things related with our element, so that it could be turned into a piece of art.
Collaboration: With our friends we helped each other by giving suggestions and better ideas. We worked together to make each of our art piece the best it could be.
Presentation: Our art piece will be presented on this blog and on the walls of our school, so we tried to make it nice and presentable. My art piece are professionally pictured.
Reflection: I had a lot of fun doing this project. We didn't just use pencils and papers, lots of cool things were given for us to use. I think my final product is really nice and I like it a lot.
When doing this project it was really hard to find the negative space of the project. When it came to drawing in my sketchbook I was lost. So the easiest way I found the negative space was by making the whole page negative by then I could draw the object or the positive space. With another picture I drew the picture first then added a shadow which acted like negative space. When it came to my real life drawing I used Ms.Hull’s picture as an example. My negative space was the green paper. The trick was to only cut one paper and use the mirror effect to place the positive space down.
I think negative space really enhances drawings. You can look at it in different ways and find something new it makes them fun to look at and it keeps you thinking about what was first. It’s like zebras, are zebras white with black strips of black with white strips? Everyone knows the answer but it’s a fun question to ask. Like art some people see one thing while others see something completely different.
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” ― Albert Einstein.
This past school year in English and History, I gained a better understanding about what is currently going on in the world. I learned that there is so much stuff going on around us that we are unaware of. Not only did I learn what’s going on around us, but I also got a better insight on the use of language. Language can be your own unique way of communicating. Whether it’s art, poetry, making up your own words, or just speaking how you grew up speaking, language can be versatile. Overall, I gained a better understanding of what is going on in the world around me.
One of the things we learned about this year in History was the Renaissance. The Renaissance involved a lot of art. Artists in the Renaissance used art to express themselves, or to express their admiration of people and places. Art in the renascence was a big form a language for the artists who made them. It was their way of communicating to the community. On one of my Renaissance assignments I wrote, “Artists discovered how to paint in three dimensions, bringing realism to their subjects. They broke away from the religious traditions of the medieval world, and the created new genres of art.” I got this from the research that I did on the Artists in the Renaissance. The artists communicated to the community by catching their eye with new genres of art. Here is one of my Renaissance assignments. This affects the world today because many of these Artists became famous legends. Today, the world is inspired by them because they made a statement saying that, you can speak through art."Poetry is the universal language" -William Hazlitt.
Another form of language is poetry. One of our units this year in English was a poetry unit, and in this unit we had to create different types of poetry. Throughout this unit I got to communicate my thoughts and feelings into poetry. Actually poetry is one of the ways that I communicate my feelings, and also just writing. They are forms of my language because I’m free to write them however I please. I can say what I want, and not have to worry about what people may think. Here is one of my lines of poetry, “My heart was calmly waiting for me recognize what was right in front of my eyes...”. You can read more here. At the end of the unit we had a poetry festival where everyone shared their poems. Each poem was different because everyone had their own way of writing, and that’s what makes poetry a universal language. Another example is English journal #21 where I wrote about my opinion on having a mask. Society doesn't always allow us to speak freely, so we use art to speak for us.
We also had language unit in English. In this unit we had to write a language autobiography about our own language. In my autobiography I talked about how I purposely make an effort to have perfect grammar, because I don’t want to be judged by society. Of course I still make mistakes, but I purposely correct myself. In my autobiography, I stated, “I let the use of grammar control me so much, that when I say something incorrectly I automatically feel ashamed. I get embarrassed and I come down even harder on myself. At other times I’m afraid to speak up because I’m afraid of how I will sound, that I may not sound right, or that I won’t make sense.” I came to the realization that language is whatever you want it to be, not what society wants it to be. This year in English helped me realize that one of the ways the world defines you is by how you speak.Not only did I get a better understanding about language, but I also learned that You have to step out of your comfort zone to embrace change. In English, we had to make a podcast called “Crossing Boundaries.” In this podcast we had to interview someone who crossed a boundary, and it could be any boundary. My interviewee was crossing the boundary of harshness to sensitivity. In the interview, the interviewee stated, “I had to learn how to be more sensitive. See, I was cut throat, I was told to be honest......and I was even honest if it hurt people, and I really didn’t care.” Being harsh was my interviewee’s “comfort zone”, and it wasn’t until something traumatic in her life happened that she decided to change by becoming more sensitive. After she stepped out of what she was comfortable with, she was able to humble herself by being sensitive.
Another assignment we did in English was a descriptive essay. In my essay I described my experience going house hunting. My mom and I had never moved, so it was pretty new going house hunting. Moving involved adjusting to our surroundings, and we didn’t know where we were going to move. We had to step out of our comfort zone anyway, and take a leap. Since we were ready for whatever we would come across, it was easier for us to embrace moving. Now, because we did step out of our comfort zone, we moved, and adjusted to our surroundings just fine. To embrace change in this world, you have to take a leap.
In conclusion, my knowledge and understanding has definitely expanded in History, and English. I’m very much aware of what’s going in the world that I was never aware of before. I’ve learned so much about current events in the world, past events, and things that happened in history that affect us today. I’m very grateful that I’ve learned what I’ve learned this year. Many of the things that I’ve learned, I will continue to carry with me. Like Dr. Seuss said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” I know that carrying the things I’ve learned with me will open many doors for me to go many places.
For my senior project, I decided to do a fashion show, to allowed the SLA community to be apart of it by designing their clothing and showing some skills they have. At first, I did not know where to start. I was confused on how exactly I wanted my capstone to be. Finally, I decided that I wanted each designer to create something that is already made into something new. I wanted the designers to also choose who they want as their models, and what designs they want their models to have. Everyone is not perfect, some people wants to do something once in a lifetime, but they cannot because no one has given them a chance. I felt as though having anyone in my show and as my designer was fine with me. It is hard to be something you want in life when there is no one out there who is willing to help you or give you a chance. Even though I may not be the best at speaking or writing, SLA choose to give me a chance as a student, which made me who I am today. Everything I have learned, I learned it from my SLA family. Therefore, everyone has a passion for something but may not be good at it, so I was actually looking for people like that. Also, I did not want any discrimination towards anyone, so I did not do any tryouts or pick and choose people. As the week went by, I changed up a few things because I came up with new ideas, I needed the SLA community to help me donate clothes, shoes etc., or anything they did not want. The next week, I more and more about how exactly am I going to do this in so little time. I watched Youtube fashion shows and read more articles on how to create clothing, for example cutting sewing and even styles that I thought were cute. After weeks of researching, I found 5 designers who were interested in being a part of my capstone. I told them exactly how I was confused on what to do exactly but I will soon figure things out. So with the help of the SLA community, I was able to get two big bins of clothes and other things. I showed my designer some ideas I learned from researching, and how I wanted them to present their designs.
Each week I changed my capstone, or just made it better with some new ideas. Since I wanted it to be a creating new styles from old style I asked my SLA community to help me by donating clothes they did not want. After, I asked the designers to choose five models to model their clothing. Also, they should sketch out their designs for me. Afterwards, I let the designers buy fabrics and colors for their designer, some of them wanted to sew new clothing but did not in the end. Since it was all about the designers, I then thought of a new idea again. I decided to have five themes for the fashion show since there were five designers. Each designer made two outfits per model. As the process went on, a lot of things changed. Some people were not coming during the week to work on their clothing. Some of them were not able to sew with the sewing machine. Also, one of my of my designers dropped out. At first I wanted to freak out and cry, however I did not because I learned that it would not solve the problem and the show was in a week. So, I decided to create a theme to fill in for the designer that dropped out. I asked a teacher to teach me how to sew. I learned how to sew and dip dye in two to three days time, then I helped some of the designers who needed more time on sewing. Along with this, I asked some of friends from CHAD high school to come in to help because they were the experts at it. The week for the show, I taught the models how to walk, asked the camera crew to record for the show and got the DJ, makeup, performers, all that I needed. Overall, at the end of the day, my show went well, because everyone that I asked to help me did their part, and I made sure everything was set up correctly. A lot of the people in the SLA community helped the show to be great, so without my designers and them, the show would not have happened.
I am most proud of myself, I really had no idea how to start at first but I just know I needed to start, so as weeks went by, I came up with more and more ideas for the designers and i never depended on anything. I always have a back up for just in case. I learned a lot of things threw out this process, I never knew anything about sewing clothes or cutting patterns for the clothes before sewing the clothes. I also learn that teamwork is the most valuable thing you need to a fashion show. But if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would start earlier on plaining things, instead of waiting, I would work with the models for a long time instead of waiting the week of the show. SLA is a better place because I allowed some of my following SLA students to show their talents or got the chance to do something they always wanted to do but never got the chance to do it. Maybe, it change some people lives, some of them may want to become a model or have more confident in performing now. Also, the diversity I made the show to have, everyone felt comfortable with what they was representing, each styles represents something and I feel really good that I was able to make some people feel confident of what they do.