Humanities Portfolio 2011. Rburenstein

Over this year in English and History I learned a lot about the nature of people. I learned that it is easy for people to stray off of human nature for various reasons. While writing my Op-ed I talked about how violent video games are blamed for many school shootings, when it really has to do with home problems or mental disabilities. This showed me how people are aware of things being able to change people, but might not have the best judgment to know what is changing them. For my first quarter English benchmark I talked about how the kids become more savage when exposed to less technology. Throughout Lord of the Flies the kids start to revert back to having animal like behavior while on the Island. This showed me how people are willing to go back to savage behavior very quickly, instead of work together and act civilized, or can make sure that they do not become savages. The way to not become savages would be to make the island like their life and not change anything, but this is very hard to do; that is why it is so easy for people to revert back to being savages.

            During the fourth quarter we learned about freedom and prisons. We had several assignments talking about torture. During these lessons we discussed how almost anyone could become a torturer. We watched and reflected on a video called The Milgram Obedience Experiments where “scientists” would bring in someone from the street, and ask them to question another person in a different room. Every time the person in the other room got a question wrong the person brought in from the street would press a button that they were told gave an electric charge to the other person. The person who was answering questions was not actually getting shocked, but was just acting and pretending to be in pain. The questioner was told to turn up the intensity of the shock until it got to a certain point, and keep it at that level. There were several circumstances, and the results varied from where the answerer was, where the person telling the questioner to do their job was, and if there was any other people in the room. In the end most people would go somewhat far, even though they could hear or see the other person that they thought they were torturing.

            One of the units in History dealt with sweatshops, and child labor. We talked about why it happens, what the benefits are, what the downsides are, and how it can affect consumers or other people. We had a group activity where everyone was split up into several teams for a Transnational Capital Auction. These teams were the Ruling Elite for countries. The object of the game was to try to please the Multinational Companies, so they would give work to our citizens, but to make sure that our citizens were not going to rebel against the government. We had to decide our standpoint on key issues like ability to form unions, child labor, laws on keeping a clean environment, and several others. There were five rounds to change the bids, and depending on what you did, the Multinational Companies would want to go to your country. The team that ended up winning didn’t put everything good for the Multinational Companies, because that would mean their citizens would be very unhappy with the government. The teams that did good put things somewhat in the middle of good and bad in the choices, even though they all seemed to be very bad from our standpoint in the United States.

While learning about freedom had a section on prisons, and penitentiaries. I got to read about prisons, and prisoners that I had no idea about before. Much of this was very interesting, and cool. We got to read facts about prisons and prisoners and write our responses. The thing that I thought was the most interesting because I had never thought about it before was about the family of the prisoners. The person who goes to jail might be the only family member with a job, and has to support their whole family, but when they are sent to prison the government does nothing to help that family. This could be a very big problem to the family, and would make them change their whole lifestyle. The government might say that it would be the fault of the family member for doing a crime that put them in jail, but I don't think that the whole family should be punished for the actions of this one person. 
            The main things that I learned about this year almost all centered around human behavior. Human behavior contributed to all of these topics very much, like how a torturer can be made, when people are civilized or savages, and how people view certain things. Human behavior is something very unique, that would not be what you expect until seeing real life examples of what can be some of strange parts of human behavior.


Screen shot 2011-06-10 at 10.59.15 AM
Screen shot 2011-06-10 at 10.59.15 AM