Throughout the year, in both my English and History classes, we did very deep exploring into different topics that may be confusing and taboo in real life. By this I mean that people find them hard to talk about or deal with straightforward. Through this exploring I was able to come up with a few general concepts that I think are very important and have helped me improve my learning throughout the year. These two statements are, “reflection allows you to connect with the thoughts and feelings of others and gives you a better understanding of different perspectives” and “when challenging yourself you are bettering yourself.” My experiences connected with these statements have not only allowed me to grow and challenge myself academically, but they have allowed me to start growing and changing as a human being. These are two lessons that I will carry with me throughout my life and I will fall back on them when I am dealing with a real world situation.
There is a lot of evidence throughout the year of me applying those two statements to my work in both English and History. Those two concepts came into play in almost every lesson and activity that we have done. This year, in English especially, I have challenged myself in multiple ways in order to produce high quality work. I’m not very good at expressing myself in my writing because it’s hard for me to bare my soul on a piece of paper and have it out there for anyone to read. However, this year I have made my best effort to put a piece of me into everything that I have written. By doing this I have not only made my writing something worth reading, but I have bettered myself by learning how to be more open about myself and trustworthy. The first example of me applying this skill to my work would be our first journal entry of the year. It was called “I know something about...” I was very scared of writing this and when I wrote it I was in a very dark place at the time. I had never displayed myself like the way I do in this journal entry before. At the time I wasn’t ready to show anybody or talk about it, so I folded the page down so my teacher couldn’t read it. But now I’m ready for people to see.
I found comfort in my classes and eventually was able to be more upfront about the way I was feeling and the things I was dealing with and soon applied them in my writing. My english class became a form of release for me. When we started our Descriptive Scenes and Essays unit, the class was asked to write an essay incorporating a descriptive scene we had written earlier. I titled it “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and in it I wrote, “It all spiraled out of control from there. It was like I was stuck in a never ending freefall, and every time I thought it was over I would fall again.” I felt like this was the first thing I had ever contributed to the world. It took a lot of thought and a decent amount of time to write it and when I was finished the class was instructed to post it onto our english class's public blog. I was really proud of being able to say that I wrote this essay.
During our Poetry unit in english, we learned about different types of poems and how to analyze them. Every student in the class was then asked to create a poetry wiki page of their own. On this page we had to create our own poems using the style of poems we had learned about in class. We also had to research a poet and do a report about how we can connect the type of person the poet was to the way they wrote. “To me a poem doesn’t have to be obvious to be meaningful. Your poem must leave something up for the reader to interpret and come to their own conclusions about.” Poetry has never been one of my strong areas of writing, but this project really helped me learn how to express myself in ways that I have never experienced before. Poetry can be anything, mean anything, and be seen in different ways by different people. That’s what’s so great about it. Anyone who reads a poem will be able to connect to it in some way because we all interpret things differently.
Most of the time when I challenged myself it was on an English assignment and I was challenging myself to express how I felt and to show the real me. But most of the thinking I did in both classes was reflecting about different events in history and different experiences of people from a vast amount backgrounds. In english we did some reflecting after reading and analyzing a book or text. Upon finishing the book Night by Elie Wiesel, we were asked to write a reflection on our thoughts about the book and it’s meaning. In my reflection I wrote, “Remembrance keeps people alive in spirit and forgetting them makes them disappear forever. Forgetting about horrible and tragic events helps heal you and puts the past behind you.” When a person is asked to reflect on something, it gives them the opportunity to think long and hard about the thing they have just experienced and whether or not they can relate to it or not. In this case, by reflecting on two quotes by Elie Wiesel, I was able to understand the points he was making and connect with the way he felt about what he was talking about.
As I mentioned before, our class held a lot of thought provoking conversations about taboo topics that one wouldn’t have in a normal conversation or even think very much about. In our sixth english journal we had to respond to the question “Why do humans treat each other badly?” At first I thought it was kind of an odd question. This question only looks on the negative side of things and implies that most humans treat each other badly. But the more I thought about it the more I was able to understand that in fact most humans do treat each other badly. I could see why someone might ask this question because a lot of things that go on in the world today are violent and cruel. One of the problems is a lack of understanding about different cultures. In this journal entry I wrote, ““Things like race, religion, language and all the other barriers...” I referred to these things as barriers because they are one of the main reasons why there is still so much cruelty in the world today. This journal got me really thinking about a topic that is happening globally each and every day and by thinking about it, it opened my mind to solutions and the feelings of those who are treated badly.
During our Revolutions unit in history class this year we learned about different types of revolutions throughout history and discussed how revolution still exists today around the world. Throughout the unit we completed several interactive activities such as a role play of different people/roles from the French Revolution and a video made with a partner about the Arab Spring. Upon the closing of the unit, the class was instructed to write a response about what we had learned about revolutions. In my Revolution Final Thoughts I talked about how different aspects of a revolution were evident in the French Revolution and the Arab Spring. I feel as though by writing this response I was able to fully understand what a revolution was and make connections between events in time based off of the expectations of a revolution.
Although I have created a lot of great work this year in both English and History, I feel like the pieces of work I have explained above are the best and fully relate to the concepts of “reflection allows you to connect with the thoughts and feelings of others and gives you a better understanding of different perspectives”, and “when challenging yourself you are bettering yourself.” Theses two concepts have pulled me through both of my classes and have been the main structure for almost every piece of writing I have written this year.