Humanities Portfolio 2011

 Throughout this year in Mr. Block's class, my understanding on many things has changed this year. Walking into this class, I had a minuscule amount of knowledge on many things, from the Aztecs to real world issues, such as the Sweat shop trial. With each new issue we looked at, more just arouse than just basic history knowledge. I learned about things under the surface, such as bias views of other, acceptable of cultures, and inquiry. In English, I came in unknowing of books from a diverse range of genres, and stories. From Lord of the Flies, to Passing, many different books were covered, each with different ideas, and literary lens. Real world connections were capable of being made with each different reading.

   When I read Lord of the Flies, I had to create a thesis paper surrounding an argument of my choice. The possibilities were endless for such a book, from barbarism to changing morals for survival, many issues arouse. What stroke me about this book was the different Political powers arising. From a Democratic party arising, to a "Let him have the conch! Let him have it!" -Piggy. (39) plead for a voice, I went over the transition in power, to a quote from Hitler relating to how Jack took on his enemy, Jack.  “Demoralize the enemy from within by surprise, terror, sabotage, assassination. This is the war of the future.” -Hitler. When I evaluated the quote, I pointed out how Jack and Hitler had the same sort of tactics. Surprise and sabotage. Breaking the enemy down. "Jack uses many of the same tactics. His enemy inside would be Ralph. He became a part of Jack’s government, but then from within started to destroy, terrorize and create his own Government. He learned the weaknesses of others and their needs to create his own system of government that would be strong and deadly enough to take out Ralph’s.  He started a war with Ralph from slowly starting it within and creating tactics against him." From writing this piece, I feel that my understanding of politics grew quite a bit. I was able to create juxtapose between a fictional story and real world politics, tying them both together, and pointing out their differences. 

  Earlier back in March, we were asked to write an Op-Ed on a subject of our choosing. Me, being interested at the time in the recent issue of nuclear energy in Japan, decided to do something around it. I started this assignment with nothing, but very little knowledge about energy. After researching various previous and ongoing issues with nuclear energy, I was felt confident enough to write my paper. I found not only new sources explaining to me the ongoing issues, but also Wikileaks articles stating that they were unable to- "Wikileaks, a website that's controversial for it's amount of leaked Govt. documents has information stating that these Nuclear power plants were incapable of taking hits from an Earthquake." After I talked about some pervious issues, I went into current issues such as France, "In France, they have fifty-eight operating nuclear power plants, and they get OVER SEVENTY FIVE PERCENT of their countries power from Nuclear power." After doing this paper, I then realized anyone can write a piece about an issue they feel strongly about. 

  Earlier in the year, I was asked to write a Monologue. I have never written a monologue before. The only thing I ever wrote even close to that was a play for Philadelphia Young Play Writes. I wrote my monologue partly based off of the idea of Danny Boyle's SlumDog Millionaire. My Monologue was on a poor boy in India living with Malaria, who lost his brother to the disease, due to corruption on a greedy Doctor's part. I decided I would keep my feedback at the bottom, just for you to see in different ways how my paper has changed, thanks to it. Towards the end of this project, it became a bit rushed, so I ended it on a happier note, "Maaran, I have good news! The Supervisor of the Hospital came by, and you’re going to get the treatment! you’ll be alright! The book? Yes, you can get it! Actually, I’ll have 500 rupees in a week, so you can get it! I have 100, see. [Waves money in the air.] Act Eight" than how the rest of the monologue was. If I were to redo this monologue, I'd change how I did the ending, and many smaller parts of the overall piece. From this, I learned anyone can be a play writer. All it takes is initiative, and in my case, some research. 

  In Mr. Block's class, we had many trials on a variety of issues. One issue that we did a trial on was Sweatshops. In this trial, our class was divided into five different groups, Multinationals, Poor Country Ruling Elite, U.S. Consumers, System of Profit, and Poor Country Workers. My group was the Multinationals, and we created questions for each other group, challenging their motives and asking why they would do certain things. In this, I was a Prosecutor, along with Catherine, and we asked the question this question to the US consumers,  "Why do you still choose to buy from brands that use inhumane labor?" The group replied to us with these brands being their only affordable sources. From this, we learned the stories that each of these groups had to tell of why they were innocent. In the end, we had a distribution of 100 points per person to 5 separate groups to see who was the guiltiest. In the end, I believe the Consumers were the guiltiest. I learned from these trials, that we can bring real world issues into the classroom in a fun, but educational manner. 

  For my Quarter two English Benchmark, I had to create a piece of language. I had to create a piece showing different languages being used. My piece wasn't in the form of different languages as how we commonly expect it to be, such as how English and Spanish are different; My piece was on how sub-languages that come from Languages. Such as how some slang is deprived from English. I did this by talking about my advisory, and how "Conversation was still  conducted on both sides of me by my peers. It wasn’t anything interesting, really. On one side of the room I heard more thought out

sentences like, “Haha, you’re absolutely right!” While on the other side I heard sentences like, “Haha, you so right!”  This generally is how my advisory is, with some using formal English, and more broken down English. My main idea of this piece was that everyone says things differently, from sound, accent, and dialect, we all speak differently. From this I learned that I was capable of writing on language, which I was unsure of before I wrote this. I also learned that we all have different languages, and it goes well beyond English. 

  Over the course of this year, I learned a lot. I feel every assignment has shaped and molded by understanding to be more open, understanding, and stronger than it was before I entered the classroom in September. Many assignments made me understanding of things that I had once previously been intolerant of. I have this all to thank to Mr. Block for creating such wonderful assignments, and showing us how to apply ourselves in many ways.