Throughout the year our studies have reached far beyond my prior general understandings of human life. Not in a sense of survival requirements but how a person lives. What stood out to me this year was an acute awareness of how humans are separated. There is a general division between people. It is not a set of social classes but almost an understood segregation among human beings. This separation, to me, is symbolized as the Somebodies and the Nobodies.
I didn’t know how society worked, much less how society works in other countries at the beginning of this year. It was different watching these movies and reading these books, but I saw that they all played around the topic of the Somebodies and the Nobodies, the oppressors and the oppressed. What could this mean? My class read the poem “The Nobodies,” by Edwardo Galeano. Our history teacher, Mr. Block, told us to analyze the poem in groups. I understood what this poem was about; there are poor people and rich people. I thought how rich people would be happier, they would be able to do more with their money, while the poor people could not, naturally. The nobodies “don’t have culture but folklore, who don’t create cart buy folklore, who don’t have religions but superstitions,” is what I learned from Galeano’s poem. The idea that there is a type of person that is understood by the world as lesser is both appalling and interesting, although, maybe there was another side.
In the same history class everyone made a poem opposing Edwardo Galeano’s “The Nobodies,” we created “The Somebodies.” In my poem I tried to present the same idea as the original poem but with a different view. “Nobodies hope for resolve and justice, when Somebodies steal their happiness for a quick charge, Nobodies see a chance for happiness but can’t win the race to it on foot when the Somebodies hold them both in their palms. The Somebodies don’t work but overseer.” The point is we have two sides in this world, people with power, money, and lives. Than there are the lessers, actually the majority of this world, that are push aside everyday. This law affiliates with two other general understandings having to do with collaboration and leadership. I will explain how both played an important role in this year of Mr. Block’s class.
I said before how the lesser people are pushed aside and abide to the rules forced upon them by the rich. This isn’t always true. Collaborating means working together and creating a highly skilled body of not as skilled souls. It’s easier to accomplish what you want when you work together. I learned that when we studied the French Revolution. At this time the royal family had oppressed thousands of poverty stricken peasants for generations. They began to group together after a hefty bread tax was added to the legion of unfair laws and penalties of the land. I understood that these people needed a little bit more help to achieve equality. The peasant protests grew larger, there was more violence and they started to accomplish a little more with each person added.
Collaboration works the same in the classroom on a small scale too. There are the students (peasants) and the awful tyrant ruler (teacher.) Not to say any teacher is an awful tyrant ruler, but the ruler of the classroom designs the assignments, and gives out homework to be completed under penalty, like the taxes of the peasants. It seems students can slave over their homework or split the work between other students to make the job easier.
This is exactly what the peasants did. To make the job at hand easier they combined their skills, slowly took control of the king’s resources including a large prison/gun deposit, and stormed the castle. If the teacher really was a crazy evil titan this action might have to be carried out, but most of the time they provide and teach. Through the course of this year if there was anything I’ve learned it would be: Collaboration does not change the quality of the learning but creates an easier way to solve problems.
I really enjoyed Mr. Block’s class. The year has been filled with a plethora of ideas that my class and I have absorbed and can now use. One thing for sure is nothing we learn is one sided in Mr. Block’s class. There is always a larger of second meaning. By realizing these new meanings, we understand better and can pass the knowledge down.
One idea in particular stood out to me. I understood that there are followers. They are people who understand, listen, and learn. Than there are the leaders. These are the people who create dangerously and live by the rules of one of my class’s most familiar writers, Edwidge Danticat.
One way that leaders inspire is to “Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. ... Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.” (Danticat, Create Dangerously page #10) That is a leader’s role. They inspire, and intern people follow. In English class this year I learned how to lead.
My favorite example of leading is within the Leah Stein Dance Company project. A group of highly skilled modern dancers attempted to teach my class these eccentric movements that nobody wanted to be a part of. We were assigned 4 group mates to practice our very own piece. This piece would incorporate some basic knowledge of these dance moves like leaning, bouncing, natural sounds, and fast/slow movement. This was the most ridiculous project I’ve ever done. I still wanted a good grade however, so I convinced my group mates to give it a try, much to their chagrin.
We found a fantastic spot to practice and perform. I urged them to keep trying even if they wanted to stop. I wanted my group to realize that it’s not about how strange this project was or how important the grade is but to create something that goes against the norms that makes you proud to have been a part of. That is exactly what my group and I did. We created dangerously. I felt as if I had lead many of the smaller actions of my group members, but in actuality they had led themselves. With the help of the Leah Stein Dance Company we created something powerful that hopefully inspires others to do the same. If there anything I have learned from this class it would be: Leaders inspire, create, and set an example. After this year I felt I have been bred to lead and will use this knowledge over and over again.
Jeffrey Schwartz Play
english history 10th grade block