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.

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!

In the Middle of the Desert at 5am

One thing I don’t think people talk about enough is the fact that there is a huge cultural difference between the different parts of the United States of America. It’s not that surprising, but actually experiencing it is a whole other thing. Before this trip, I had only been to the west coast of the United States, which is similar enough with culture to Canada’s west coast. This trip was something truly different.

First of all, I had no idea where New Mexico is. No idea. I knew it was kinda south, but I definitely couldn’t have pointed it out on a map.

 

The trip was the destination for this project, but before we went, we had to learn about where we were going. I can honestly tell you this is the most informed I’ve ever been on a trip.

This project kicked off in the middle of summer vacation, I kid you not. We were assigned summer readings. Our class had one book to read, and I quickly made the connection between the book and the New Mexico Field School. Knowing this, I was enticed to read the book, to get a head start on the new school year. It was difficult at times, because the book, Age of Radiance by Craig Nelson, had some very scientific knowledge that I did not have. At times it was hard to follow, but making notes helped a lot.

Reading the book, though confusing at times, was hugely helpful in understanding what we were going to be doing on the trip, and in the learning before hand. I had that insiders knowledge, and I think that made the trip, and the project, the success that it was. If I were to go back and do it again, I think I would try and do more research while I was reading the book, and have a better understanding of each thing they talked about.

The next ‘milestone’-ey thing that I thought was really helpful, or interesting, was the Manhattan Project Character Card. This is something that the teachers had very strict guidelines for. They were also not present while we were doing this milestone, which made things, well, interesting.

Us, as a class, had to pick the 16 most significant people to the Manhattan project, and each person in the class was assigned one of these people to make a ‘character card’. Except it wasn’t make, it was fill in a very restrictive template. Some people fought this more than others. I thought having a template pre-made would make things easier, but it didn’t. The template had a very small area for us to explain who the person was, what they did, and why they were significant. It’s that word again. Significant. This is what the entire project was on.

How did the development of the atomic bomb change the world in a historically significant way?

This milestone helped us have a better understanding of the driving question, stated above. Why were these people significant, and why were they more significant than someone else. My person, Klaus Fuchs, had a very interesting story, which you can read all about on the card!

Now, we come to the final product for the trip, our books. In grade 8, and grade 9, for field schools, our teachers made book templates in book creator for us to fill out during the trip. They had photos, videos, audio clips and text. Our job was to make a book that answers the driving question, using the trip to gather evidence.

At first, I thought I had a good idea. I was going to follow a theme inspired by —. It seemed like a good plan, and was commended by the teachers. Once I did it though, I was not pleased. I had all the content I wanted, the information was, I thought, pretty solid. I just HATED how it looked. It was awful.

It took me a while, but with help from my friends, I scrapped that entire theme and started again. I kept the content, which took a while to collect and I was very proud of, but I changed everything else. Also remember, this was during the trip, at the airport. I have a post all about how I used efficiently, but that’s not the point. I realized that I could do another theme, which I am very pleased with.

I’m very happy with my book. If I were to go back, I would definitely have done the newspaper theme the first go around, but it worked out just the same. I think the time I put into it really shows. Something about this really sparked my interest, so I wanted to do a good job. There were maybe more opportunities for long and well edited videos, but I did my best to capture everything I needed, and was flexible with my ideas.

And now, drumroll please,

This was probably the coolest field school I’ve ever been on. We had long days, jam packed with learning and other things, but it was amazing. I also got a lot of patches, which is some good I collect and am really happy about!

As I said, this trip was packed full of crazy stuff. So I’m just going to talk about a couple places we went to, the ones that I think best describe our trip.

Los Alamos Historic Sites Walking Tour

This was the first stop on our trip. And honestly? It really was a great first introduction to New Mexico, and The Manhattan Project. Our guide, Aimee Slaughter, was amazingly knowledgeable about, not just the Manhattan Project, but of the history of the area. She told us about the Pueblo people, the First Nations who lived in Los Alamos before the Manhattan project, and how they all tied together. She told us a really cool story about someone who lived on the land before, worked in the town, and has relatives there today. That story is in my book.

National Museum of Nuclear Science and History

One thing about learning about radiation is that it’s kinda scary. It’s this awesome power that can blow up cities, but it’s also everywhere. We did an amazing workshop with David Gibson about radioactivity. We got to use geiger counters and everything. I thought it was cool to know that radiation is everywhere, because atoms are constantly decaying and letting off radiation, but that doesn’t hurt you. It’s called background radiation!

Meow Wolf

There are no words for this. It’s like a trip of hallucinogenic drugs, but you are definitely not on drugs. There are secret passageways, slides through washing machines, portals with doors that open with hand prints, like honestly, you kinda have to go there. You could spend hours exploring that place.

Trinity

On July 16th, 1945, the first ever atomic bomb was dropped in the middle of the New Mexico desert. This one event completely changed the world, ushering in a new age of science, technology, warfare, and so much more. We got to go there. Where it all happened. It was so cool. Jesse and I spent a while conducting interviews of people, just regular people, to see why they were there. Everyone had their own reasons, but the core message was the same. This is where it happened. This is where the course of the war changed. This is where the world changed.

This was an amazing trip. We’re not that far away, and yet, there are so many differences between our culture, and the New Mexico culture. Though we have different food, and different ideas, there’s one thing we can all agree on. There was a time before the bomb was dropped, and a time after.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

PLP 11. Wow, I’m old. Since coming to this program in grade 8, I’ve learned so much about thinking flexibly, and on the recent Albuquerque, New Mexico trip, I did just that. It was 6 days of waking up ridiculously early, learning about bombs of all things, and collecting evidence.

For the Albuquerque trip instead of, as many of our field schools are, just collecting everything you can on the trip without knowing what the final product was, we did actually know what we needed. It was still a race to get information, but we knew specifically what we needed. See, for this project, we were making a book. I talk more about it in the Albuquerque trip post, but basically we had to use this book to prove that the atomic bomb was a kind of turning point for the world, that there was a time before the bomb was dropped, and a time after. Which it really is. The world has never been the same. But more on that in the other post.

For the trip, I knew a moderately vague outline of what I needed for my project. I had what goes where, all that, but I wanted to collect as much as possible so I would have it when making the book. The first thing I decided was to ask Emily if I could use her mic. PLP has lapel mic’s, but Emily’s you can just hook up to your phone, and record holding it. At first when I asked, she said she wouldn’t have room, but I said I could pack it. And I am so glad I brought it. It didn’t only help me, either. We did a lot of media sharing on this trip, between classmates. I think that decision was a huge help in all of our projects. Maybe if you didn’t get exactly what you needed, someone else did, and you could share.

Another thing that I think was a bit of a risk was talking to strangers. When we were actually at the Trinity Site, Jesse and I went around to people who had come to the site and ask them why they came. It was a risk because we didn’t know exactly how those interviews would work out. Originally, I was going to ask people about their opinions on nuclear power, but some people might not have answers. I had to adapt my book to what happened, and boy, did it pan out. I got some amazing interviews with people who came to the site. Most people wanted to come here because it changed the world, and that’s exactly what our books are about. How this one event changed the world forever.

Another thing that I did on the trip was to take advantage of time. The first draft of my book had the content I wanted, but the theme looked like literal garbage. I knew that due to the early mornings, I wouldn’t have tons of time at night to edit, because we needed as much sleep as we could get. So while driving, and even on the plane, I edited. I used the extra time, so I wouldn’t have as much work to do on the trip. Also, but constantly adding things to my book and editing it, I knew what I still needed to collect from the sites.

Overall, this was an amazing experience. Talking to so many people, it was amazing to hear how this still impacts people today. I learned so much, so much of it that I wouldn’t have been able to learn in a classroom.

SLCs the Sixth: TPOLs

The end of June marks the end of another era in PLP, Grade 10. This was a remarkable year, with ups and downs, triumphs and tribulations, but we made it to the other side, mostly unscathed. So, let us reflect on what we have done, and look forward to our next great adventure.

Of your work completed this year, what are you most proud of? Why?

The project that I am probably most proud of is the WW2 podcast. I had a lot of fun with this project, which makes everything 100x better. This was one of the first podcasts we had done, so it was opening a new chapter for us. This year I’ve had a lot of fun doing podcasts, and this one was no different. The experience of going and meeting with these people was really cool, because instead of just learning about something in a textbook, we got to meet people with first hand experience. I also learned a lot when I talked to Abigail Foulds and my Grandpa, Frank Ward. I am proud of the work I have done for this project.

What piece of work done this year would you share with a class visitor? Why?

A project that I would want to show to a visitor is definitely the generator project. Not necessarily the video that went along with it, but the generator itself. In science, and especially in this project, I fell as though the product is the bigger thing, and the video secondary. This doesn’t really make sense in practical terms, since we are mostly graded on the videos, but I’m usually pro under of what we have actually created. In this project, we took a current issue, and created a project that has actual meaning in the real world. This is why I wanted to do PLP in the first place, and that’s what I would want to show visitors.

How do these projects connect to the adult world outside the classroom?

Math is kind of a constant. Sometimes it can be hard to relate math concepts to the real world. This project did a really good job of that, though. For this project, we were looking at real data that scientists and governments had collected, and we had to graph it. Taking these arbitrary numbers, and creating graphs was cool, but to actually see the impact that this could have was even cooler. Emily and I checked the levels where the water rise would start to impact us, and added this to the graphs. It really puts into perspective what is happening in our world, and brings it to us.

What problems did you encounter? How did you solves them?

Finally, we have Destination Imagination. Every year,  talk about Destination Imagination, and how I am working to be a better teammate, but his year I actually did it. Within our group, we had some pretty strong personalities, and with that, some disagreements. There was one pretty bad disagreement, and instead of getting mad or whatever, I took the time to talk to both sides of the argument, and helped them sort it out. It was sometimes frustrating, but in the end it worked out. I’m really proud of how I handled it, and am looking forward to continuing my learning!

Ep. 6 – Abigail Foulds and Frank Ward

 

2019 marks the 74th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Even though that seems like a long time, it really isn’t. We still have people greatly impacted by it in our society, with stories about the harsh time. Through these stories, we were able to determine the Legacy of WW2 in Canada.

This project was the study of World War Two, but also the introduction to a new medium that we will now be using more often: sound. This was a podcast project, the first of many. And as this was a sound-based project, we had to do a lot of prep. In maker, we worked with GarageBand to learn how to make music, and manipulate sound. That was fun. GarageBand can be a bit fickle sometimes, but as with everything, practice makes perfect. 

As an introduction into the unit, we had to come up with questions based on images from world war 2. As a group, a lot of our questions were based around Hitler, which was interesting. A lot of my questions were based around the scientific breakthroughs that occurred during the war. As bad as War is, it always pushes the world further, trying to figure out the next best way to kill each other. 

As I mentioned before, this project was a podcast based upon the idea of the legacy of WW2 in Canada. And what better way to do that than to talk to people who actually lived though the war! Our fearless humanities teacher got in contact with the Memory Project, which put us in contact with people who were alive during the war, wether they were veterans, or lived in Europe through the war. We were then put into groups of 3, where we would go interview the people. I was in a group with Maggie and Daniel, though only Maggie and I were able to actually meet our person. Our person was Abigail Foulds. Abigail lived in Holland during the Second World War, and met her husband, a Canadian medical officer, soon after the war. They moved to Canada and got married. It was an amazing experience to meet her.

I also talked to my grandparents for this assignment. My grandfather was born during the depression, so he lived during the war in Canada. My grandma, on the other hand, was born at the very beginning of WW2 in Britain. She had to be sent away from her home to avoid the blitz, which would’ve been terrifying as a young child. In my podcast, I interview my grandpa about living during the war, sine my grandma could remember much.

Throughout all this project work, we were also having mini lessons about big turning points of WW2. I talk about two of these turning points in a podcast that was a mini assignment.

It was difficult at first using GarageBand to edit all the clips together. Other than the little strange assignments we’d get in maker, we hadn’t done much work with it. But what I’ve come to realize is that it’s basically iMovie, which we’ve worked with a lot. It’s just sound instead of images. I’ve also come to realize that I’m way better at editing sound than I am at editing together images and video. My draft one was okay, but I really had to work on my editing because I kept stumbling over my words and trying to edit them out afterwords.

Honestly, I’ve really learned a lot from this project. It’s probably the work I’m most proud of, like ever. Other than the sound of my own voice, which is hideous and awful. I really look forward to working with this medium more and more!