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.