Our 10th grade English and History classes lead by Mr. Block at Science Leadership Academy were everything but ordinary. We used literary devices and our own thoughts to come up with either broad or specific ideas. Along the way we were challenged, taught and questioned numerous times by our peers and teachers. With all of that input, all that was left was the outcome; the work we hand in. I’ve compiled three general understandings that I came to after looking over some of my work.
"Information from primary sources helps to develop a stronger understanding."
This year I worked on a project in History where the entire class reenacted the French/Haitian Revolution and we discussed the relationship between the two. In the process of reenacting we had to research. In this unit, I acted as the Bourgeoisie and I had to find a quote, or research, something that would give me background and enhance my knowledge of the revolution. One of the most essential pieces of information I found was, “the typical rural family of five required sixty bushels of wheat per year, “or with the triennial rotation of crops, about 15 acres of land for food.” However, the majority of French peasants— as much as 70 percent in the region of Cambrésis, for example— owned less than two-and-a-half acres of farmland. To make matters worse, France suffered several droughts and harsh winters during the 1780s, and French peasants were unaware of new, more efficient farming techniques; most used outdated tools and methods that dated back to the Middle Ages.” This was a crucial piece of evidence in our reenactment because I played the Bourgeoisie and this piece of information allowed me to know exactly what it felt like to be in that class in that time period. Given the fact that even after reading that quote I had to delve deeper in my research to find out exactly how much a bushel was worth. My research definitely allowed me to have a better understanding of the unit. I was able to take note to what other people were saying during discussions and explain to their group why they were in the wrong, using fact based evidence.
During English we approached research and collaboration also. We had to complete a full podcast with a real guest and ourselves, as the host, leading the discussions. Everyone focused on crossing boundaries, and I decided to talk to my guest about the boundaries that she crossed. What I thought was amazing is how with every sentence, my guest would change the questionnaire and I would learn something different as we continued. It begins with, “Certain boundaries are just, not to be crossed. Certain boundaries, no matter how hard we try not to cross them, we will, but with a consequence at the end.” When one of my guests said that it made the entire piece, which was the most essential part of my podcast. What I’ve come to realize is that information from primary sources helps to develop a stronger understanding.
"The most powerful words are those that relate to you."
A piece of work that pushed my understanding and allowed me to have a stronger grasp of the assignment was the Religion Study where I related religion to music. Looking through the assignment, I realized that the most powerful words are those that relate to you. At one point in my research I found this quote, “Music in its purest sense is religion and religion in its purest sense is music” (Sri Chinoy, Music and Spirituality/Religion). This quote made me realize what my entire project was about. And it also changed the entire outcome of the final product (the brochure). I came to a conclusion, making my final piece a lot stronger because I found a deeper connection; music is my life.
I remember one day in English where we had a renowned poet visit us. She made us write a paragraph in our English Journals about the way we feel about words. I chose to write about the word “technicality”. I wrote, “The sophisticated way they think they speak, is literally their blatant ignorance, to me. How dare you tell me my emotions are just a technicality? My emotions are my soul. They are me, don’t you dare speak of taking that away from me.” After reading over my work I found that those words were powerful solely based on the fact that they were my own words and I meant it.
For another one of our English projects we wrote a play, my play was titled Arts & Crafts. In this play I reflected on India, the social changes, and myself. At one point, where I was concluding the play, I found myself talking about the way the life of one of my main characters was being intruded and somewhat changed in a decent way but while writing it I was thinking about the way I would feel if I had someone to listen to me. I wrote, “You're here. We're speaking. That's all I really want, someone to listen. To understand, Samajha mēṁ āyā?”(Arts & Crafts) I was suddenly intrigued and in that moment that play meant more than just play to me. Throughout this year I’ve realized that within my work, the most powerful words are those that relate to me.
"In the process of grasping freedom, one finds creativity"
We recently completed a dance; yes a dance for the Art in the Open Festival along with help from the Leah Stein dance company. In the beginning of the unit I was completely confused, asking questions like, “Do the dances have meaning?” or “What is the purpose?” We were given the opportunity to work with the environment and create a dance using the environment. We were allowed time to be outside and working with our groups to complete the project. The process was very tedious but in the end we were able to create amazing dances that we will never forget. After finishing that unit I came to the conclusion that in the process of grasping freedom, one finds creativity.
Overall, this year’s English
and History classes were filled with its ups and downs and mishaps that lead me
into a new direction within my work. I was given the opportunity to learn, to
create and to lead. And the best part about it all is that I wouldn’t give back
a second of it all.