Humanities Portfolio 2012

When I think of the beginning of the year in English and History I think of the egg journal. Mr. Block told us to sit and take out our journals just like a normal class period, but it wasn’t. Mr. Block had a different plan for us today. As he calmed us down and had us listen to him he asked “Does everyone see what I have in my hand?” to which we all said yes. Before we could even ask why he was holding an egg he tossed the egg into the air and it splattered onto the floor. The volume in the room grew to great amounts and we were all shocked. He then had us write a journal entry as if we were from a different perspective than ourselves. We could be anything, the egg, the table, the floor and so on. This is a class that I mark as what our classes would continue to be like. We continued to see things from a different perspective then we had and searched desperately to hear opinions of people that weren’t getting heard.

One of the things I learned through Mr. Block’s classes is that greed is the world’s greatest downfall. As we went through the units this thought constantly came to mind. Our first major assignment in History was to write monologues about the pipeline from a unique perspective. In order to write correct monologues we did a lot of research on the XL pipeline project. I saw how destructive the pipeline would be to the environment how it would negatively affect the moral of the people who would have the pipeline on their land. It was then apparent to me that the only reason this pipeline project would be passed is because of greed. That if it was passed it would only be for the money and the government would be showing that all they cared for was the money.

From there we went into studying Cortez and how he had treated the Aztecs. A quote from my reflection of the trial is “Power and greed can easily be the end to anything.” I still stand by this quote because that is what killed so many of people during that time. If Cortez had not been so greedy he would have seen that the Aztecs had given him plenty and would have given him more. After the Cortez trial Mr. Block had us look an article, A People Apart, that showed descendants of the Aztecs who are indigenous people. Then he had us read Rigoberta Menchu’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. After we read the speech he had us write a response to two of her quotes. In reply to one of her quotes I said “We would have so much more if we had worked together. The division that has been set is going to harm us maybe just as much as we think that it has helped us.”

While we were doing those things in History we were also reading Lord of the Flies in English. Lord of the Flies is often read in most high schools, but it was really interesting how the themes in Lord of the Flies tied together with what we were doing in History. One of the biggest topics in Lord of the Flies is the greed that the children have. They are stuck on this island and are only trying to save themselves. In the end it was the greed of Jack and the other boys that killed Piggy and was the cause of the other horrible acts that happened.

Another thing that this year has taught me is that systems are created and defined by the people. The first time this really came up was during a journal entry where we read an excerpt from bell hooks. In the excerpt she talked about language and how it was a place of struggle and domination. She speaks on the power of words and language and how often they are undermined. While we were reading through the excerpt we had to pull out quotes that stuck out to us and respond to them in the journal entry. While responding to the quote “It speaks itself against our will” I mentioned “...nothing is done without someone making it that way...”. This was the start of my bigger understanding on how systems work. My understanding grew even farther when we did the cortez trial and the sweatshops trials. Throughout the trials I saw that the system could not be at the most blame because it was only made by the people and that the system can and has changed over time. It was extremely difficult to prosecute the system because we all knew that we were the ones making the system and could not get past that idea that was stuck in our heads. The systems errors were most prominent to me during the Sweatshops Trial. The blame would just go in circles. The system is what the circle is, the ruling country elites were seeing it as their only option to provide for their country because of how the multinational corporations made it. The multinational corporations continue to make it that way because consumers continue to buy the products and they continue to make money off of it. The workers themselves can’t even be said to be completely innocent.  They continue to work under the conditions and do not strike against the owners of the sweatshops. Someone could easily look at this and say that it is the system's fault but when taking a deeper look you see that the system is run by the people and only with the change of people can the change in the system be made.
The last thing I learned that I want to touch on that this year has taught me is that everyone goes through struggles differently and how people go through those struggles defines who they are as a person. This idea first was brought to mind during the first quarter when we did our descriptive pieces. For our descriptive pieces Mr. Block had us begin with a description of a piece of art, a poster or a picture in our home. We had to go into detail explaining the picture  as if the person never saw it. After we did that he had us read descriptive scenes from other people. He has us pull out things that we saw that made it a good written piece. After that he assigned to us the first part of a bigger project. The first part of the project was for us to write our own descriptive scenes. For my scene I wrote about a struggle my family went through. The final project was for us to write a descriptive paper. A quote I pulled from my paper is “But the greatest lesson I learned was that everyone handles these kinds of situations differently and no one ever gets it right.” This was the building block to my greater understanding. I was beginning to realize that everyone thinks differently and because of that how they deal with struggles are a reflection of their thinking.  Then we started to read Their eyes were watching God, a story about a young girl Janie who went through struggles with a lot of bad love all the way from the beginning of the book. Those struggles made her different and unique from all the people around her. Through those struggles she found her voice and became the full person that she was meant to be. She was content with herself, but how she went about dealing with the things might not be how other people would have handled it.
Through making this portfolio I have seen how much I learned this year. I am surprised and pleased with how I grew in my opinions and how I view the world. I have been giving so many wonderful opportunities in which to learn uniquely. This year was one of the years I will never forget.

Here is some other really great things we did and work that I did not mention in my portfolio:

Poetry Wiki: You can view each student in our class’ wiki page.
Art in the Open: Link 1, Link 2 (My group’s page)
Language Autobiography

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