Humanities Portfolio 2012

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Screen Shot 2012-06-06 at 12.27.17 PM

This year in my 10th grade English and History classes at the Science Leadership Academy, we covered a wide variety of interesting subjects. But out of all of these, the ones that stood out to me the most were the ones that focused on revolution and rebellions. I thought these were interesting because they really gave us a new perspective on how the world changes. Through these units I finished the year with a few different basic understanding. The first is that power is bought, not earned. The second is that human rights are often treated as human privileges. The third is that the needs of the many will always outweigh the needs of the few. 

When we first touched on rebellions, it was in the French Revolution unit. The French Revolution was possibly one of the bloodiest wars in all time and resulted in the people of France rising up together and killing the king and tyrant, king Louis XIV. We had one of our class’s famous historical role-plays, where each of us assumed the role of a key figure in the French Revolution, I personally got to play the part of Robespierre which I found very interesting because I got to be the villain. Here is a sample from some of the in role-play work.  “Hello, I am Robespierre I am a founding member of the committee of public safety. I was born and raised in Arras, France, and I grew up to join the Committee of Public Safety. I am a die-hard supporter of the revolution and will do anything to make sure it stays in motion. I think that if you are not for the revolution then you are against it. The grey area is for loyalists and cowards. Also discipline is mandatory for a peaceful society. While I looked at myself as a heroic leader, some of my people look to me as a tyrant.” When we each went around to introduce ourselves, this was the paragraph that I used. I feel like taking on the role of one of the characters really helped me to get a sense of what the French Revolution was like. As the Role-Play continued, people gave input from the point of view of their character. The Role-Play ultimately concluded that the politicians of the time were extremely corrupt and that the people of France had every right to rise up the way they did. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. 

This was not the only role-play that we had; another favorite of mine was the “Sweatshop Trials”. In the Sweatshop trials, we all assumed the roll of one the participants in the system of the economy. The goal of the sweatshop trial was to help decide who in the system was the guiltiest. The accused parties were The CEOs, the system itself, the factory workers, the U.S. consumers and the local governments of the countries that hosted a factory. I played the role of The System. Following is a sample of our work and was used as the opening statement for the trial “We are going to try to pin the blame on the C.E.O.s, we are also going to try to make examples of other companies that make a profit. We are also going to try to point out that we only suggest that a profit needs to be made, we don’t say how much or how to make it. And we can’t say how they spend it.” – Sweatshop Trial These role-plays were also great because we didn’t learn only one point of view, we got a good chunk of each side of the argument even the ones that are generally thought of as the bad guy. It also let us take a more in depth look at how manufacturing works and why factory workers are paid so poorly. The trial ultimately concluded that the CEOs were the guiltiest since they stripped people of their human rights and refused to accept any of responsibility or blame for it. We also learned that those who become super rich almost always start well off, buying their way to the top instead of earning respect.

In our English class, we read Lord of The Flies. In my opinion this book also shows allot about revolutions and rebellions. For our Lord of The Flies project we had to make a political ad campaign, and write an essay about the book. I chose the character Jack. I thought he would be the best leader since he actually has the best overall survival plan. Rather than sitting and waiting to be rescued he takes a pro-active stance and teaches the boys how to survive for themselves. However, the plot takes a dramatic twist late in the book and he goes from a leader to a tyrant. Here is a paragraph from my essay on Lord of The Flies  “Fear is one of the most powerful emotions humans experience, it has the ability to do everything from disrupt a relationship to destroy a civilization.  This is a common occurrence in both real life and in literature.  One of the strongest examples of this is in William Golding’s Lord Of The Flies, which depicts the downfall of innocent children into power hungry monsters.  By looking at Jack’s tribe, one can see any civilization will become uncivilized when its leader uses the peoples’ fear of something to control them.  It is important for one to notice this so that one can guard against it, and stay rational in the face of terror.” I enjoyed this project because we got to take a look at Lord of The Flies in terms of society forming and going through changes as opposed to just the survival of boys on an island.

Overall I think that my English and History classes really helped me to look at the world in new ways. We learned to look at things from everyone’s perspective. I think this is one of the most important things to do both as a student and in real life. Mr. Block’c classes changed the way I look at the world drastically and his lessons will stay with me for the rest of my high school career if not my life.