Think and Create: Essay time

These think and create posts are harder than you’d think. We cover a lot of content, but it’s not always easy to find, or rather, come up with a feasible connection. I came up with this idea, actually, after talking to my grandpa about school when he was a kid in Vancouver, around the 50s. Drawing from his experience, the book Dear Martin, and our discussions in class, I have written an essay on segregation within unsegregated schools. It’s an interesting topic, one that I have found interesting opinions on.


Essay: Self Segregation 

       Throughout history, people have been judged by the colour of their skin. When you picture a racist, though, you can’t fully have an idea of what they look like. It’s not always white men with pitchforks in KKK get up. It can be parents, people drilling into their young child this idea of segregation. Sometimes it’s not even on purpose. Hate is easy, jointing a mob mentality can bring you closer with your peers. When people get to high school, in unsegregated schools, they sometimes segregate themselves, on purpose or not. It can be hard to notice, but from the 50’s, till today, it’s still there. 

In Dear Martin by Nic Stone, the main character is pushed in this direction of ‘self segregation’. He has internal struggles when he wants to date a white girl, for example. His mother, growing up in a time when it was very frowned upon for an African American man to be with a white woman, drills this idea into his head, until he makes decisions to push this girl away for his mother’s sake. Also, when his best friend is shot, he seeks comfort in his old, bad neighbourhood, wanting to be around people he thinks will understand. He separates himself from his best friends white friends, for other people like him who are bad influences. In both scenarios, he does understand the risk, but the racial pressures set upon him urge him towards a stereotype that will do him no good. He tries to do better, but this separate idea always comes to his mind. 

Although in the 1950’s in Vancouver schools were not segregated, people still divided according to race and ethnicity. In one example from Frank Ward, who went to a mainly white school with some people of East Indian descent, there was a very large culture barrier. The white boys and East Indian boys formed tight cliches, avoiding each other, but often getting into brawls. While this was surely discouraged by the teachers, the brawling part, it helped maintain the divide of culture, and this idea that a non-white man couldn’t, or shouldn’t, be with a white woman. Whether drilled into them by their parents, or the media, this idea would have shaped not only the boys in the cliches, but the younger students and siblings. It can be hard to change a behaviour you’ve never been told is wrong. 

After the Brown vs the Board of Education case was settled, and the United States declared that ‘separate but equal’ was not fair, integration of African American students into white schools began. Or it sort of did. There was nothing to say how soon this desegregation was to be done, and so it was up to the schools and communities to sort it out. One school that did integrate, though painfully, was in Little Rock, Arkansas. Nine African American students were enrolled to go to the school, but of course this was absolutely appalling to the white folk. There were riots and death threats as the children tried to enter the school, and the POTUS ended up having to send down the 101st Airborne Division to help them enter the school, but once they were in the school, they had no further help. The 9 students endured terrible abuse at the school, forcing upon them that they were not welcome to attend a school which the law said they could attend. They suffered for years because of this idea of segregation that had been drilled into the white children’s heads, that African American people were not people, and they had no respect for them.

This idea of segregation has done terrible damage to the world and its people, but it doesn’t seem to ever end. The stereotypes that were introduced then still impact our world today, shaping the minds of young children who know no better. Though having a rallying point is strong core of many communities, one so deep in hate should not be allowed. It can be hard to undo the past generations hate, but it is every generations job to learn about what happened before, and make sure it never happens again.


It is very hard to write an essay after being away from school for months, not to mention being in a room that smells like paint (long story). Essays are sometimes hard to do, but I felt is was a medium I could express these ideas on well. This is a very interesting project we are working towards, and each day teaches us more about the mistakes people have made and how we have to learn from them.

Too Many Hours in the Day

We are living in an incredibly odd world right now. While staying in our houses, we are forced to look at how we spend our time now, wether it be productive or not. In PGP, we’ve been developing the skills to do this, and with help from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, I hope to help myself, and others, take a look at how we spend the hours in the day.

Our assignment was to find an article from Mr. Clear’s website, and write a kind of reflection on it. We could choose any article from the website, which, if you’ve been on it before, you’ll know what I mean when there were options. I decided to go down the rabbit hole of decision making, on the vein of productivity. While there were many that fit the bill, I chose the short and sweet How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the “Eisenhower Box”.

This article was basically about Dwight Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States, and how he used a powerful decision making tool called the ‘Eisenhower Box’ to help him make decisions on what needed to get done.

In the first box, you have the urgent and important tasks, the ones that you will do immediately. In the second box, you have the important, but not urgent, tasks. These are the tasks you will schedule to do later. The third box is urgent, but not important. These are tasks that you can delegate to others. I’m not sure if this box would be super useful in the day to day life of a high schooler, but who knows. In the fourth box, you have the not important or urgent tasks. These are the things that you would eliminate, the ones that have no purpose.

The article talks about the difference between urgent and important, and how using this framework, you can make those decisions time and time again. He also talks about mindless productivity, that I think can be summed up in this quote from Tim Ferriss.

“Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”

I found this to be a really powerful article today, because now we are faced with these tough decisions of how to spend our time, now that all we have is it. The framework of this ‘Eisenhower Box’ is one that is so simple, and yet so powerful. As Mr. Clear said,

‘The great thing about this matrix is that it can be used for broad productivity plans (“How should I spend my time each week?”) and for smaller, daily plans (“What should I do today?”).’

Having school online is great and all, but sometimes I find it difficult to actually get up and do the work. Our routines are broken, and in trying to piece them back together, I hope to use this strategy that has helped others. So I decided to make one for myself, for today. It was harder than it seems. You have to make decisions about what is urgent and important, and the opposite.

In this assignment we were also asked to take a look at our competencies, Connect: How do I communicate and collaborate to build understanding? and Reflect: How do I reflect to build knowledge? The latter was a bit easier than the first. In reading this article, I had to reflect on some of my habits, and the things I do to stay ‘busy’. And they aren’t always good things. I tend to scramble for things to do sometimes just to keep myself busy, but I know now that that isn’t good. By using this tool, I can stay busy, but doing something that actually needs to get done.

The connect competency was a bit more difficult. Luckily, though, I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Good old Emily, she reached out to me with an idea about how we could collaborate. We each read each other’s article from James Clear’s website, and wrote a short little review about it.

How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the “Eisenhower Box”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️- I really like how this article approaches productivity. It gives a specific example from a historical figure, and how he used it to create an amazingly productive life. Also, James Clear shows how he uses this tool in everyday life. Productivity for the sake of productivity is useless, and this article really drives that home. -Alivia

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Excellent article. I think it helps simplify complex task management systems into something comprehensive and can be applied to pretty much any lifestyle. It’s like a task management / decision making tool built into one! -Emily

 

Inversion: The Crucial Thinking Skill Nobody Ever Taught You

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Excellent article. Explains something so simple yet counterintuitive that you’d never think of it, and yet it is such a key part of success. If you want to improve your decision making and critical thinking skills, I would highly recommend this. -Emily

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️- Good article. I thought it explained the idea of inversion with multitudes of examples and facets of everyday life that this concept is used. I can think of several projects I could have used this on. It really makes you think about success and failure in a different way. -Alivia

I thought it was really cool getting another person’s input on the article that I chose, and also seeing what interests other people. It’s interesting to see just what draws everyone’s attention, and how it reflects back on them.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with this assignment. I’ve been blogging in a new space at home, so that’s been fun. This odd time is the perfect time to take a look at this stuff, and I’m super glad we got to do it, and that Emily and I have found a way to connect our project even though we haven’t seen each other in over a month!

Think and Create: Statistics

When your teachers give you a project with basically no criteria, it can be difficult. It can be even more difficult when you are stuck at home and haven’t seen your friends or teachers in over a month. But we soldier on, and keep doing blog posts!

We’ve just started a new project about civil rights in America, and African American and Canadian people in their battle for this. So to start it off, we’ve been assigned something similar to the this week I learned posts from our last project, except we have basically no criteria.

For this week’s Think and Create post, I was interested in, well, statistics. We mentioned a few times in class how there isn’t as huge an African Canadian population in Vancouver as some other places, but I was interested in the specifics. I made some infographics to help inform us of those specific stats using data from Statistics Canada, which had data only from 2016. Hope you learn something!

EVERYBODY IS LYING

Here’s the thing, here’s the thing, here’s the thing. People lie. They always have. Some people are bad at lying. Some people are good at lying. Some people are so fantastic at lying that they make a career out of it. But the thing about lying is that you really can’t tell sometimes. One thing, maybe, that’s off putting, but nothing else. Then that one thing puts you on edge. And you get suspicious. And then everyone is lying and everyone is out to get you. Yay!

This weeks TWIL post, which you might have guessed, is about suspicion. Not necessarily if that suspicion was justified, but I mean that’s not the point. Something is happening, and it’s someone’s fault, so you gotta blame someone!

As of right now in Macbeth, which is up to the end of act three, tensions are high in ye old Scotland. King Duncan is dead, killed by his own guards. These guards were conveniently killed before anyone could question them. So it’s a classic case of whodunit. There are a few suspects at play.

  1. The sons, Malcom and Donalbain. Parricide is a bit extreme, and doesn’t exactly make sense. Early on in the play, Duncan appointed Malcom his successor, which was uncommon for the Scotland monarchy. What were the sons motives then? The biggest point against them is that they fled after their fathers death, which does seem a bit suspicious. They are not trusting of their fathers court, and believe it was one of the other nobles who killed their father, and would be coming after them next. 
  1. Macbeth, yes, good old Macbeth. A loyal subject to the great king, or so it would seem. Macbeth killed many a man for king and country, so what’s one more on his belt. Or three, if you count the guards who Macbeth just happened to kill in a fit of passion over the dead king. Macbeth did have a remorseful look about him, but again, people lie. It was also Macbeth who ascended to the throne once the mighty Duncan was slain in his sleep. He had the most to gain by Duncan’s eternal slumber. Of course Macbeth is in full favour of accusing the sons, but you would be too if you murdered someone and there was another suspect. 
  1. I’m sure there are more. Duncan was all to trusting. Why, in the second scene of the play we learn of another who had betrayed the oh so gracious king. In any case, Malcom, Donalbain, and Macbeth are the lead suspects. 

The 1950’s was not so different. The 50’s were a time filled with suspicion of communism, spies, and the Soviets. Everyone was at risk. Well, everyone was at ‘risk’ of being spied on. There were a few groups of people, however, who just had to be spies. 

  1. Hollywood. Not a specific person, I know. It’s a place. That’s the thing. Everyone in Hollywood was under scrutiny. HUAC, House Un-American Activity Committee, started investigating Hollywood, actors, directors and writers alike. They decided that they could have been promoting un-American propaganda. They started subpoenaing people, trying to get them to either confess or accuse friends or colleagues. Many people were blacklisted, and unable to get work in the industry. Some writers and directors used  pseudonyms to continue their work. This blacklisting continued straight through the 50’s, finally ended in the 60’s.
  1. Homosexuals. This, less obvious, and not for why you’d think. At least, I don’t think you’d think of this. I certainly didn’t. To the point. Homosexuals, yes. See, being gay or lesbian wasn’t a good thing in this timeline. Cause, see, if you were LGBT, other governments could blackmail you into getting them secrets. Which, I mean, isn’t that far fetched. In 1953, President Eisenhower made an act thingy that made it so employees could track down and fire you if you belonged to the LGBT community. Tons of people were fired or quit, cause they were scared. Everyone was scared.
  1. Last, but certainly not least, communists, or sympathizers. This one is a little more obvious, I know. Political ideologies, religion, all this made them ‘perfect’ candidates for sympathizers. Some people, including some from Hollywood, plead the first amendment from the constitution saying that they could belong to any political party. American’s may be stubborn, but the one thing they will always stand by is freedom. 

Again, I’m sure there were others. These are just some big ones that I wanted to focus on. Anyone could be a spy, that’s the thing. That’s why suspicions were so high. But by pushing this hysteria onto a specific group of people, it definitely made it seem like the government was doing something. That was, of course, until Senator McCarthy accused the United States Army. Everything went downhill for him at that point.

For my artefact for this weeks TWIL post, I decided to make suspect folders on some of the people I mentioned in this post. For Macbeth, it’ll be Macbeth, obviously, and Malcom and Donalbain. For the 1950’s side, I made up these people. Keep in mind, the FBI did have files on suspected communists, sympathizers, or LGBT people, but they probably didn’t look like this. I made these using, well, mostly keynote, and Splice for the editing. 

 

The Foundation Of Every Success

For my second TWIL post, I’m shifting my gaze from the political side of things, to the social aspect of both the 1950’s. More specifically, I’ll be focusing on the role of women, and how important they are to a household in both these time periods.

 

What does 11th century Scotland have in common with post WW2 America? How have women’s roles changed over the centuries? Why can’t men do their own laundry? Podcast time! Women’s roles during WW2 and post WW2 were drastically different. After working in factories for years while the men were away, manufacturing munitions and the like for the war, women were expected to go back to being house wives. And for the most part, they did. Only one third of the workforce in America were women. The rest were conforming to the ‘American dream’. This American dream, of 2.5 kids, a house in the ‘burbs, dominated the media. Society demanded this idea, and people, as they do, conformed. Women needed a husband, a house, somewhere to become this thing, this housewife. Men also needed a wife. Being a bachelor in the 1950’s was not a good idea. Being seen as a homosexual, at this time, was really bad. Whispers of communism were everywhere. By being someone who could be blackmailed into communism, you were at risk. So by obtaining a wife, this suspicion was gone. Of course, that’s just one reason they got married. In this American dream, the housewife literally held the house together. Cooking, cleaning, all of this was extremely important for the ‘successful man’. She was the support of the house, the support of the success. In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth really is that supporting wife. Macbeth sees her as an equal, calling her in the play ‘my dearest partner of greatness’. And yet, it is still her who prepares the house for the king, ordering the servants about in preparation for the occasion. In the 11th century, women had roles akin to the ones in the 16th century, as in the 20th. Lady Macbeth’s status brings her above many tasks, but she still runs the household. Lady Macbeth is also the support behind her husband, driving him forward alongside his ambition. Without Lady Macbeth, Macbeth wouldn’t be where he is in act 3 of the play. She supported his ideas, was counsel before the plot, created the plan for the murder. At each step Macbeth took forward, Lady Macbeth was right there with him. In both times, women were seen as the weaker sex, only capable of housework and the like. Lady Macbeth has to perform witchcraft, ‘unsex’ herself, to be able to perform the deed of killing Duncan. Women were the ‘innocent flower’ then, as they were in the 50’s. Though society moves forwards, some stereotypes move as well. In any case, both timelines need the support of the women, them, working behind the scenes, keeping everything together.

For this TWL, my artifact is a podcast. I brought this together using my GarageBand and sound skills we’ve been learning over the past couple years. Sound is one of my favourite mediums to work with, so this was a blast!

 

SLC’s the Seventh: mPOLs

Grade 11 is a huge year. Not only is it academically challenging, a huge step up from grade 10, but also a year where everything matters. The courses we take, the grades we get, habits we develop, they all contribute to our future, shaping the way. So far, grade 11 has had some ups and downs, but only I can speak to my work, and that’s what I’ll be speaking to today.

How did you “fail” this year? What did you learn from this experience?

One of the biggest things I have taken away from PLP is leadership, and learning to work with others. While being a leader is good in some respects, sometimes I feel as though other people want to lead. I don’t try to vie for leadership, I step up only when no one else will. Leading a class like ours is sometimes difficult, as we try not to get on each other’s bad sides. When we were tasked with creating our own groups for the Lord of the Flies project, I feel I let down our class. There were many ways in which our groups could have been formed, but I lead it with counsel from others and decided it would be random. Groups were in the end successful, but I feel some groups had their disadvantages.

What skills did you use and what skills do you need to continue to develop?

On the Albuquerque trip this year, I decided to pull an Emily and collect as much information as possible. I conducted interviews all over the place, recording audio of our tours and much more. Getting out of my comfort zone was difficult, but in the end it payed off. I got a lot of information, but not all of it was relevant. This year, I would hope to develop the skill of interviewing people better. Sometimes I have a hard time communicating what I mean, which impacts the relevance of my interviews. Working on this skill will help me not only in interviews, but also any other time I will be working with others, or public speaking in general.

Did all the work you completed this year meet your standards?

The project that I really struggled with this on was the Manhattan Project Project. With my book, before the trip, I had worked extremely hard on gathering the information for it. I literally spent hours every day before the trip doing research and putting together the pieces. I had the information for the book, I just hated how it looked. I tried to model it after another book, but it fully made me want to die. Using the skills of peer critique, I bugged my friends for hours at the airport, trying to come up with a solution, a better format. It was really hard, as it was fully up to us, and I couldn’t come up with anything. Finally, I came up with my current theme, but having this struggle was very hard. It’s difficult in PLP, when the standards for our work are so high. But those standards aren’t wrong. We can do the work, and because of that my standard has been raised. 

I know I still have a long way to go as a learner. Without PLP, I know I wouldn’t be the same person I am today. I have to keep moving, though, even if it’s slow. Two steps forward, one step back, still moves forward. Now I have a question for you.

Where do you think I grown the most since grade 8? How can I continue this progress?

Liars in the Midst of Friends

Shakespeare has been something that people study in school for, well, a long time. The 1950’s are a very interesting part of history, full of threats and standoffs. So why not combine the two into a project?

For this project, we’ve been studying Macbeth, the Shakespeare play, and the world post WW2, and the Cold War. While learning about these topics, we’ve been assigned something called This Week I Learned posts, or TWIL posts. Each week, with our teachers lectures and our study of Macbeth, we have to find a connection between Macbeth and the 50’s. This week, I’ll be focusing on secrets, and the impact they have.

The Potsdam Conference, which took place July 17-August 2nd, 1945, was the last time The Big Three met. The Big Three were the leaders of some of the biggest players in WW2; Harry Truman, president of the United States who just replaced FD Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, British prime minister who was replaced halfway through the conference by Clement Attlee due to an election, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The Potsdam Conference was where they, among others, discussed post-war Europe. During this conference, Truman got the phone call that told him the Trinity test was successful. Now, Truman had this huge power, and didn’t really want to tell those at the conference, chiefly among them Stalin. He did tell Churchill the news, creating a ‘two against one’ dynamic.

In Macbeth, after fighting many great battles, Macbeth returns home to his Lady Macbeth with strange news. While returning from battle, he was visited by three witches, who declared he would be king. Macbeth has great ambition, so with the spurring on from the witches and his wife, they hatch a plan to kill the king, Duncan. One fortunate part of their timing is that King Duncan is coming to stay at their home for one night. These three big players, the killers and the killee, creating a ‘two against one’ dynamic.

In both cases, Macbeth and Truman know the repercussions their actions can have. In Truman’s case, the superpower that man has discovered can create mass destruction. in Macbeth’s case, he knows the death of the king will have a devastating impact on their kingdom. That doesn’t stop either of them, though. Two of the three are in on the secret as well, but in both cases Macbeth and Truman aren’t super great at keeping the secret. Macbeth has a moral struggle, and cannot act the part of ‘the innocent flower’. Truman mentions to Stalin that they have a weapon, not hiding it as well as maybe he should.

Both Macbeth and Truman are in the midst of a Shakespearean ‘fair is foul, foul is fair’. Macbeth can become king, but only by killing King Duncan, his kinsman and honoured guest. Truman can end WW2, one of the worst wars in history, but only by murdering tens of thousands of innocent people. There is no good decision for either of them.

Improving 1% at a Time

In our PGP course, we try to better ourselves, make ourselves more efficient, and ready for the real world. Last year, we read a couple self-help books. This years book, Atomic Habits by James Clear, is probably the best one we’ve read. It is again a self help book, but it focuses more on why it works. Also the other ones we read were very teen-focused, which I found a little odd. This one was for all ages, and it focuses on the little things, the atomic things.

Law #1: Make It Obvious

The first ‘law’ of the book, Make It Obvious, focuses on just that, making it obvious. Each thing we do, each little habit, has different cues. For old habits, these cues can be invisible, unnoticeable. Until we can recognize the habits, and the cues that trigger them, we can’t change them. 

One thing the book says to do to help you with this is the habits scorecard. The habit scorecard makes you write down everything you do in a day, and mark it as positive, negative, or neutral. Doing this helps you become fully aware of what you do each day, each habit that your brain does automatically.

I decided to only look at the mornings and nights for these, because they are usually constant, while my after school activities are constantly changing. Once I had all of these written down, I could see what needed to be changed. Each of these things I do automatically, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but cues in the environment impact each of these things. For example, waking up and going on my phone right away is not necessarily a good thing, but I can see it is triggered by my alarm going off. By changing what my alarm is in the mornings I can stop myself from going on my phone. 

One thing I have been trying to do this year is read more. Using the implementation intentions from the book, and the habit stacking, I can do just that. 

Implementation intentions are a kind of command system for what you plan to do. They are structured in a way that makes them very clear and to the point. I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]. By having them set out in a very specific way, you can’t really escape them. For my reading goal, I have created an implementation intention.

 

The next part of the process is habit stacking. Again, structured in a very clear way so as to make life easier. Habit stacking uses another habit that you do already, and makes that a cue for your new habit. After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]. The old habit that you do automatically sets you up for your new habit.

Law #2: Make It Attractive

The second law of the book, Make It Attractive, focuses on, well, making the habit attractive. The opposite also applies. If you want to break a habit, make it unattractive. There are a few ways to do this. One of the ones that stood out to me was using temptation bundling.

Temptation bundling works for me because like habit stacking and implementation intentions, there is a formula laid out for you. In this case, the formula is: After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [HABIT I NEED]. After [HABIT I NEED], I will [HABIT I WANT]. This works because it again applies to a current habit. This anticipation of something you want coming after the habit you’re building can make you more likely to do it. This temptation bundling really has worked for my reading goal, because sometimes all I want to do is go to bed, but I know I should read.

Law #3: Make It Easy

The third law makes a lot of sense, and has made the habits I am trying to master a whole lot easier, hence the name, Make It Easy. This law focuses on reducing the friction of your habits, or increasing them in some cases. 

For the case of the habit I want to start, the reading one, I’ve tried to decrease the friction in a few different ways. First, my book is on my bed, right beside my pillow, so when I get into bed I don’t have to get up to get the book. This also gets rid of my excuses of ‘being to cold to get the book’. I’ve also used the two minute rule, which makes the habit seem like less of a chore sometimes. Basically, what you do is make the habit into something you can do in two minutes. So even if I only read for two minutes, I have read. Sometimes I’ll start with that intention, the  end up reading for the whole 15 minutes.

For the opposite side, creating more friction, I’ve been working on going on my phone less. Using the screen time features that Apple has, I set a timer for 1 hour on social media. There is no password, so I can ignore for 15 minutes, but it still creates that friction that says ‘instead of going on your phone, maybe do something else’. It doesn’t always work, but these things take time.

Law #4: Make It Satisfying

The fourth law, Make It Satisfying, has really helped with my reading goal. Using the idea of a habit tracker, I’ve been keeping up with my reading, which has been fun and rewarding.

My habit tracker is a reading planner I got for Christmas. It has monthly reading goals, a place to review books, and a bunch of other cool things. The thing I have found the most useful out of it is the weekly planner. Each day, it asks you to write down how many pages you read. Having a chain that doesn’t end is so satisfying, and at the end of the week, when you add up how much you’ve read, it really does add up!

The other part of the fourth law I’ve found helpful is a habit contract. The habit contract makes sure you do what you are supposed to do by making you report to a designated person. So now, I’m not only letting myself down if I don’t do the habit, I’m also letting someone else down.

Overall, this book was super helpful. I really like the concept of breaking things down to the ‘atomic level’, and sorting them out from there. It makes things look more achievable!

 

Mos Eisley Cantina; The Poetry Club

Star Wars is a huge franchise. With over 10 movies, multiple television series, and more merch than anyone can comprehend, Star Wars is a huge part of pop culture today. To make something like these movies, it you create another universe, full with food, culture, and religion. For this year’s winter exhibition, we pulled upon this amazing world to create a Star Wars Exhibition!

Now, if you’ve followed my blog for a while, or PLP in general, you will note that this is the second time our class has done a Star Wars exhibition. Being that as it was, we couldn’t just do the same project again. Also, in the past we have done the Star Wars exhibition in our Maker class. This year however, we do not have that class, and so we had to connect Star Wars to something we would learn about in regular class. And so our teachers did.

How can we use poetry to reflect our perspectives on people, places, issues, and beliefs?

Yay, poetry. Poetry, but with a historical context.

In the 1950’s, a wave of disgruntled writers started a movement we now know as Beat Poetry. They used their experiences, being put down by the world, the after effects of World War 2, and many others as inspiration for their work. It was performed in poetry clubs, often accompanied by jazz. This is where we found our connection to Star Wars.

The ambiance of the Catina on Tatooine was similar to that of a poetry club in the 1950’s, and so our project was formed. On the night of the exhibition, we were to create the Cantina and present poetry! But to do this properly, we first had to learn more about Beat Poetry, and the Beat Poets themselves.

For this part, we were each assigned a beat poet to research. I was assigned ruth weiss. Her story is extremely influenced by the Second World War, and she continues to inspire us today. You can read more about her in the document I’ve attached.

The next big part of the project was writing the poetry. We had to learn about different poetic devices. This was not the first time we did this, we had a poetry unit a few years ago. This project was more free form, and we went deeper into a specific form of poetry. Beat poetry is often free form poetry, without rhyme or structure.

It was really cool to have this freedom within writing our poems. Our only limitations was our driving question, How can we use poetry to reflect our perspectives on people, places, issues, and beliefs? Writing poetry in this way was honesty kinda fun. One thing I friend to keep with the vibe of beat poetry was a little bit of aggression. Many of my poems were argumentative, challenging the social norms and such.

Now comes to the Star Wars bit. For the smoothest operation of this, we were divided into groups. I was in food and beverage. The idea of dividing us into groups was a really smart idea, I think. It made sure we all did our part, and that no department got forgotten about. Food and beverage was actually super fun. Our group was Jesse, Maggie and I, so we worked really well together.

The food we made was really good, and took a lot of time, with regards to research, and the actual making of the food. We wanted to make the food authentic, so we did quite a bit of research about food on Tatooine. We had Ahrisa, which were small multigrain bread rolls we made, hubba gourd, which was cut-up cantaloupe, and dustcrepes, which were spanakopita rolls that again we made. Finding the recipes and making the food took a considerable amount of time, but it was really worth it.

On the night of the exhibition, Jesse, Maggie and I were working behind the bar. Setting up the bar took a considerable amount of time, but in the end we were able to actually have people order drinks from the bar and serve them. All the drinks we served, while non-alcoholic, were based on ones from Tatooine. We had a bit of an issue with ice, but other than that, it went really well.

One of the cool parts about doing a Star Wars exhibition is the day after. Once we have put all this intense effort into this project, we get to go see the new Star Wars movie, in this case The Rise of Star Wars. It was a really fun time, and it was very rewarding to see finally what we were working towards. PLP is such an amazing program, and I don’t think there’s anything quite like it!

Now finally to the nitty gritty stuff; assessment. For this project, we were focusing on two curricular competencies.

Historical Perspective: Explain and infer different perspectives on past or present people, places, issues, or events by considering prevailing norms, values, world views, and beliefs.

Create: What literacy skills am I using to write, speak, and represent in the texts I create?

I did touch on these a bit in the post, but I’ll discuss them a bit more here. With regards to the historical perspectives competency, when looking into the 1950’s, we had to do just this. The beatniks had first hand experiences in this world, and we learned about it through them. To get another perspective on this idea, I also talked to my grandpa, who was in his 20’s during the 50’s. It was an interesting perspective to look at, the Canadian perspective.

For the creating competency, we had to learn a lot about poetry, and literary devices in creating the poetry. Things like allusions and cacophonies helped our poems come to life, and I learned how language impacts us in all sorts of ways.

This project was very informative. I had a very fun time baking, some of which I had never done before. This was probably one on my favourite exhibitions! I also learned a lot about communication, with other groups and my own. Also communicating to an audience. It was definitely a time!

Beelzebub on a Stick

Leadership is tricky. Power is a balance. And every human is capable of ‘sharpening a stick on both ends’. Welcome to Lord of the Flies.

For this project, we had to read, you might have guessed, Lord of the Flies by William Golding. This book, though old, relates on a very deep level to our society, and how pretty much tribalism runs our society. Now, tribe is a kind of loaded word. You may be thinking of ancient man, but the actual definition of a tribe is “a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.” So you can see how this definition of a tribe can actually apply to our society. The driving question for this project is actually 

What is the Role of Tribalism in Society?

Before we get to that, I’m going to talk about, well, the book. 

THIS PORTION OF THE POST CONTAINS SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVE NOT READ LORD OF THE FLIES, SKIP OVER THE BOOK SECTION.


William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was written to sort of make a point. He is quoted as saying “Wouldn’t it be a good idea if I wrote a book about children on an island, children who behave in the way children really would behave?”. This quote is directly attacking R. M. Ballantyne’s The Coral Island. In this book three English boys, Jack, Ralph and Peterkin, are the only survivors of a shipwreck. In the book, they quickly decide on Jack as the leader, and have many great adventures with inhabitants of the surrounding islands and themselves.

 

Golding didn’t think that was realistic. He wrote the Lord of the Flies to show how, when unbounded by the rules of society, people will resort to savagery. In the book, it was boys who lost society, but the idea applies to all humans. He just used children because they would lose their civility sooner. 

Without civilization, humans resort to savagery.

All power needs to be balanced by a shared responsibility.

Innocent people have the ability to become evil when removed from civilization.

When no longer bound by the confines of societal consequences, humans feel free to act upon their initial instincts and detach themselves from civil society.

In the absence of societal structure, humans fall back on their violent and destructive nature. A primordial instinct is released.

The book is full of symbolism. Each of the boys represent a different part of society, and the different styles of leadership. One of my favourite pieces of symbolism in the book is that of the fire. The fire, the thing Ralph clings to for most of the book, represents their ties to society, their ties to civilization. At the beginning of the book, the ties are still there, and the fire burns well. The first time the fire goes out, when they killed their first pig, they lost a part of themselves. They killed a living thing, and that took something from them. As the book goes on, the fires continue to die, until at last, there is no society left. The final fire, the one that ravages the island, has no ties to civilization. It is just destruction, chaos, and everything the boys become.

The book was very interesting. Honestly, the ending was more traumatizing than I thought it would be. There was so much more death than I thought. Also, Rodger is a total psycho. I can forgive him for the Piggy thing, but wanted to behead Ralph and mount his head on a stick is a totally different issue. Children are psycho. 

As I mentioned before, the project was on tribalism, like the tribes in Lord of the Flies. Tribes run our society, groups of people brought together by common ideals. In this project, we were studying some of these tribes. Some examples of these are self help groups, gangs, fan bases, but the tribe our group decided to study was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police!


The RCMP is a very interesting tribe, and a vital one in our society. They have a recognized leader, common values, and have a great sense of pride in their identity. We were actually able to interview a retired RCMP officer, Mr. Bob Bell.

Emily- What is the identity of the RCMP? What is their image, their values, what are they trying to preserve? 

Mr. Bell- The RCMP has a proud history. Formed in 1873 by the government of PM John A McDonald as the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) the objective was to protect the huge empty territory between the new provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia. There had been a massacre at Cypress Hills there was fear of US military intervention, violence against the indigenous people by whisky traders. 300 NWMP officers marched west on July 8th 1874 to protect all of those issues which they did very quickly. The NWMP became the Royal North West Mounted Police (RNWMP) in 1904 and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in 1920. When the Headquarters moved from Regina to Ottawa. My last posting before I retired was in Regina and my office was that of the Commissioner of the RNWMP. Cadets are taught and immersed in that proud history, taught those values and taught to preserve the image and values of the proud history of the RCMP.

Emily- How do you think having an identity benefits the RCMP (perhaps focuses missions, gives the public role models, etc.)?

Mr. Bell- The RCMP have a world wide reputation. The iconoclastic uniform is known everywhere. With Liaison Officers at embassies around the globe the RCMP Foreign Service  have  contacts with police officers and investigative agencies, for two examples, the FBI in the USA and the Australian Federal Police in Australia. ( I was a liaison officer in London, England and Washington DC at different times in my career. ) So the identity of the RCMP and its members gives the public a role model in towns and villages across Canada as well as helping the RCMP in their mission worldwide.

Logan- How would you des ride the community inside the police force?

Mr. Bell-  All cadet training is carried out at the RCMP Training Academy, Depot Division at Regina, Saskatchewan. Every cadet must live in the barracks. Even if your home is in Regina you have to live in. Troops are formed 32 at a time. Cadets come from every corner of Canada and the course lasts for six months. So in terms of group dynamics, each cadet troop forms an identity, comradeship, an esprit de corps and friendships which last a lifetime. I graduated more than sixty years ago and I am still in touch with troop members although the numbers get less every year. Every year there are Troop Reunions, often held at the Training Academy, fifty, forty thirty years, after graduation they get together to swop stories and compare notes about their careers. For those who have retired from the RCMP there is the RCMP Veteran’s Association across Canada one in Victoria and another further north on the Island. So that tells you about the community inside the RCMP. I ended my career as the Commanding Officer of the Training Academy and Depot Division in Regina.

Alivia- Why did you join the RCMP? Did you always know that you wanted to be a RCMP officer?

Mr. Bell- I always had an interest in police work. I was bored with my office job as a cost accountant, living in Toronto, looked into joining the RCMP and had no interest in the Toronto City Police, I wanted adventure  and thought that the RCMP would be more adventurous by sending me somewhere across Canada. Got that right as the cadet from Toronto was sent to Prince Rupert as my first posting.

Our final product for this was a keynote presentation to the class. My group, which you may have been able to discern, was Logan, Emily and I. It was a very interesting group to work with, seeing as we are all leaders in our own way. But it was a successful though interesting ride, and I think our final presentation reflects that.

Overall, I think we done good. Though it was difficult at first, finding deeper messages within the text really helped me understand the book, and it’s ties to our world. I also learned a lot about the writing process. We had a lot of writing in this project, including a literary analysis test and journals, and all that writing really helps. Sometimes in projects we don’t do a lot of writing, other than the blog posts, but in this project we were able to practice our writing skills. Also, I had a lot of practice doing MLA’s, because I did all of ours for the project. I enjoyed this project because I was able to improve some of my skills that aren’t often used!