Symbiosis is “the living together of two dissimilar organisms in more or less intimate association”. This means that the two parts cannot live without each other. You can apply this idea to a huge amount of things. I would like for us to take a look at the term when it comes to understandings. You cannot have an understanding without other understandings, as every understanding is reliant on the understanding of something else. Take, for example, the slicing of an orange. You have a knife and an orange. To have the intention to slice the orange, you need to have an understanding of what a knife is used for, and the fact that the orange is soft enough to cut with said knife. We were asked to form this final portfolio around an understanding, and the understanding that I want to focus on is “Understandings have symbiotic relationships.” So, let’s take a journey into the world of understandings.
In my World History class, we use this idea of understandings to see beyond the established, textbook facts. We synthesize this information into a more cohesive form. I want to take you through some examples of this intriguing structure. We will begin with something from the beginning of the year. In October, we conducted a trial that involved Cortes’s conquering of the Aztec nation. This started with research, as we had to establish a basic understanding of what happened, and who should be tried for what crimes. Once researching was initially finished, we had to adapt strategies for winning the trial. We had to use our prior knowledge and mix it with the knowledge we had of the trial participants speeches. From this, we formulated questions. Questions, such as “What justification do you give yourself for killing your own men, and people of your country?”. We used our understandings from each response and each group’s arguments to form questions as we went, creating a full, constricting understanding with which to pin our opponents. The full contents of our group’s look at the trial can be found here.
One of the more interesting projects I did this year for World History involved the creation of a play. We had to write a play, one that had grounding in the world, and involved world issues. For this project, I wanted to take a more personal approach and take a look at crime in Philadelphia, my home city. I did research, analyzed the crime in Philly, and used my knowledge of many events like these to write about my own, fictional version of one of these crimes and craft a story around the potential motivations behind it. In my play’s case, the reasons behind the crime can be summarized quite nicely by the main character and perpetrator of the crime’s, mother “Jeremy, I would rather die than let you get caught doin’ something illegal. I will pay for my chemo myself. And then, I’ll get better, I’ll go back to working in the office, and we can have a nice life again.” The full play is here.
Another project involved the analyzation of revolutions, finding a way to talk about and relate revolutions. The project itself asks for the fusing and synthesis of understandings. One of the major things I talked about in the project was the fact that revolutions can take many forms, which I found of import after trying to find a new way to angle my project, so as to promote a different way of understanding revolutions. So, I made the claim that flat design was a design revolution, so that I could show that things like design have revolutions too. You can find the video here.
Throughout the year, we have been using a journal to answer daily questions. These questions are used to assess our current understandings, and to wrack the minds of multiple people in the class to come up with greater understandings based on everyone’s individual thoughts. In one of my Journals, my very first one, I talk about how people are abused for the sake of labor. This is reciprocated, mixing more symbiotic understandings, towards the very end of the year, where we do another trial, this one about sweatshop labor and who is at fault. We began the year with a concept, and learned more about it later in the year. Another of my journals (found here) addresses how people’s understandings are influenced by more correct understandings.