I Don’t Know Why We Didn’t Call it the Scottish Play

Good morning. It’s not the morning when I’m writing this, but that’s not the point. Anyways, yes, right, the post. Over the past few months, starting in January I think, we’ve been reading Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It is a very interesting play within itself, and has many interesting themes. The one we studied was the idea of appearance vs. reality. This, through some unknown channel, was connected to our social studies timeline, and so we were basically studying the 1950’s, as well as a Scottish play from the 17th century.

This may seem like an odd connection, but there really are quite a few connections you could draw. That was one of our assignments, actually. We had to write blog posts connecting Macbeth and the 1950’s. It was definitely hard to start, but by the end of these posts, I think I had really done some good work.

Another big part of the unit were what we called ‘Act Quests’. Basically, while reading the play, we would have these test-like things where we would be given quotes from Macbeth, and have to: recount the events that took place before, during and after the quote, identify who said it and why it was important to the character and those it was said to, and how it relates to theme. These were definitely not easy. In PLP, we don’t have a lot of tests, which is why sometimes things like this can catch us off guard. We did do something similar to this in the LOTF project, but to a much lesser degree. Its definitely important to do things like this, to prepare for university and stuff, but it’s still not my favourite. I guess my biggest issue was putting too much information down, which makes sense, because I do tend to do info dumps. But overall, I think it was a really good practice in an area we sometimes don’t spend tons of time in.

Now, you might be thinking, well, these are only small parts of the project, they can’t be the final product. And believe me buddy, you’d be right. Also, if you’re familiar with past PLP Macbeth projects, you’ll know that there have been attempts at a class film adaptation of Macbeth. Notice how I say attempt. This has never worked. So of course we had to do exactly that. But it’s never that simple. We also had to set the movie in the 1950’s, and change it so it fits in that year. Goodie.

One of the things we stated with was trying to figure out a story outline. Everyone would try and come up with an idea on how we could set it in the 50’s. At first, we had grandiose ideas, like having it set in a mayors office, or during a presidential race. But we had to rethink, because we were going to be the ones acting, and we are children. I mean the in the nicest way possible, but nonetheless it’s true. We’re also not that great actors, but thats another issue altogether. We ended up going with a private school with a secret society.

Now came the really difficult part: deciding roles. This can either be a very big deal, or a very small deal. To us, it was big. I wasn’t sure what I should do, because although the whole class was working together, a group called the key creatives were mostly in charge of the movie. The key creatives were the people who everyone reported to, and were responsible more or less for the success. all the roles were similar to what would be on an actual movie set. The key creatives were the producer, who was head of everything, the director, who had the vision for the film, and the screenwriter, who, with a team, would write the film. We did add a fourth key creative, production manager, which was similar to producer, but in more of a day to day sense. I decided to apply for the producer, because though it is a lot of responsibility, I thought I could do a good job leading our class to success. Also, I had a vision on what the film could look like, and as a key creative I thought I could help with that part.

Applying for the positions was pretty stressful. First, we had to go home and write a pitch for what roles we wanted. After that, everyone who had applied to be a key creative had to, in class, write out their vision for what the film would look like. And… I got it! I was chosen to be the producer. But that’s not the be all and end all. Off the bat, I was told that I could be fired at anytime. I knew this beforehand, but that really put the pressure on. Not that I thought I’d do a bad job, but its kinda scary. The rest of the team was Giorgia as director, Jesse as screenwriter, and Luca J as production manager. A pretty solid team.

The next part was not fun. Being a key creative was difficult, but way more than I thought it would be. We had a very tight schedule as well, because we were supposed to have it done before spring break and we got our roles like, 2 and a half weeks before then. We had to cast, get costumes, props, write the script, and film in that small window. There were some fun parts, though. We had to find 50’s lingo for the script, which was fun, and reading around the tables was cool. There was a bit of drama around casting, and key creatives spent a lot of time outside of school trying to figure things out, but once we had the prep out of the way, we were more or less set to film.

That’s when things started to fall apart a bit. The teachers left for Vietnam with the grade 12s, so we were left completely on our own. But it was fine. We had a solid film schedule, and we were going to be fine. Everything was blocked in, and the first filming day went smoothly, mostly. I did end up having to be in the movie and sprained my ankle in the process, but we were adapting as things were thrown at us. Even when our Macbeth had to reschedule a shoot because he wasn’t feeling well, it was fine. We adjusted, and filmed everything we could without him. Except, he was still sick the next day. And when we thought he was getting better, and had everything set, he was sick again and wasn’t sure wether or not to come. The key creatives discussed, and said we needed to keep everyone safe and so we cancelled. This was a difficult decision, but it was for the best. We had got all we could without our main character, and everyone had worked so hard.

Then spring break hit, and we were working with what we had. The post production crew did a great job with what they had, and we planned to film the rest after the break. But, as you might have guessed, the break never ended. Well, it did, but you know what I mean. School was cancelled, and we were forced to accept what we had. It was really though to face. Being the head of a big project like this was a really amazing learning experience for me, and to see all that work not pan out was really sucky. Everyone tried their hardest, and though there were some hiccups, if it hadn’t been for the sickness of Macbeth, I think we would have pulled it off. Its dissapeointng, but I know how hard everyone worked, and the experience within itself was pretty cool.

I do have a theory on why it didn’t work, though. A dumb, superstitious theory, but still. So, when actors are putting on the play of Macbeth, they call it the Scottish Play. There are documented cases of when people didn’t do this, and then actors got sick or hurt. I just find it kinda fishy how it was Macbeth who got sick, and no one else. But that’s just the raving of some student. Who really knows?

10 Week Habits Journey

Hello and welcome (again) to PLP, specifically PGP, during quarantine! As you may know, if you’ve visited past PGP posts from this year, we’ve been studying a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. The book is basically about how little habits you do every day will help you achieve your goals. There are 4 Laws of Atomic habits, which are

Make it obvious
Make it attractive
Make it easy
Make it satisfying

And so, for our final project of this here course, we were tasked with creating something that would demonstrate our understanding of the book, and these laws. And, since I know how to book bind, I decided to create a tool to be used alongside atomic habits, to make keeping track of your daily journey, well, obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying!

What I have created is basically a goal journal, where you track your habit everyday for ten weeks, in hopes of motivating you to complete your habit. It comes complete with explanations on why, a habit contract for you and your accountability partner, intention statements, and so much more. In the rest of the post, I’ll outline how the book demonstrates each law, and hopefully inspire you to try out the journal (At the end I’ll explain how you can do this!).

Let’s start with make it obvious. Even the cover was created with the intent of this habit, making it a bright yellow, hardly ignorable, with a very straightforwards title. Atomic Habits Goal Planner; 10 Week Journal of your Habits Journey. I wanted to make sure that the intention of the journal was obvious even before you opened the book. It also starts with an explanation of the book, and how each feature of the book works together to help you on your way.

The second law, make it attractive, was definitely more tedious than id hoped, but I think it paid off. The cover design, as mentioned above, isn’t super fancy, but I tried to make it look a bit nice, at least. There is definitely a theme of clocks and stars in the book, which I wove throughout the book. Each weekly planner has a different layout, which I thought would keep people more interested, so every week doesn’t look so bland. Each week also has a motivational quote, which I think is pretty great, and something I really like in my own planners.

Make it easy, the third law, was something I was really working hard on in this book. I wanted to make it so there were no external hurtles for you to jump over outside of the book. Having everything inside the book, from the habit contract, to the intention of your habit, and even the final reflection, its in there to make your journey easier. The weekly design definitely took that into consideration as well, making your habit tracking very simple and straightforward.

Finally, we have the make it satisfying law. One thing about goal tracking that I really like is seeing everything filled in, a fancy, colourful wall of your accomplishments. I really tried to make that idea of colouring in something when you’ve completed it very prominent. There is a place at the beginning of the book, which documents your whole 10 week journey through colour, as well as in the weekly planners many places to rate your week through colouring! I’ve also included a colouring page, so even if you have nothing left to colour in, you can colour that in!

Overall, I wanted to make something to motivate you to do your best, and document your success. ‘Cause that’s really what it’s all about. The journal can inspire you, sure, but it is still only a tool to help you. In the end, it’s up to you to stick to your habit. I just want to show you how far you’ve come since the beginning, and encourage you to keep going, because these habits don’t just end after 10 weeks. You have to keep pushing forwards!

Now, as I mentioned above, I want everyone to be able to use this journal. There are, of course, two ways in which you can do this. The first, which would depend on your access to technology, is digitally. In that case, you would download the PDF file of the Full In-Order Book, and export it to an application where you could annotate it. The other way to do this is a bit more complicated. Through this method, you would create a physical journal, but it is a bit labour intensive. First, you would download the Printable Book, and, this is important, print double sided flipping on the short edge. Then you would have to bind all of the pages together as one text block, including the title (which I printed on card stock but it really doesn’t matter) and there you go! Either way, you get your own habit tracking journal. You could also, of course, contact me through my blog and I could make one for you or something.

This journal really means a lot to me. I put a lot of thought into the good parts of habit tracking, and other features I’ve seen in planners, and tried to make one that would be useful for any goal you would want to accomplish. Because like I said before, the journey is yours to take, I just want to help out!

 

 

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!