2020 TPOL: COVInDependence and Learning

The TPol Declaration:

“Thank you for coming to my presentation of learning. I am an expert on my own learning. I am also responsible and accountable for my own learning. You can expect me to give an honest evaluation of my progress. We will discuss my strengths and weaknesses. Thank you in advance for listening and for offering feedback that I can use to improve as a learner.”

Driving Question:

Why do you feel you are ready to advance to the next grade level?

I feel amiss if I don’t mention that our year was defined by a global pandemic.  Learning from home, with new responsibilities, and increased accountability catapulted my growth as a learner. Overall, I believe that succeeding in an unprecedented time prepares us all for dealing with the unknown, teaching us how to be kind, empathetic, and illustrating the most important lessons in life. This pandemic has not only prepared me for the next grade level in school but has also taught me to be a better human being.

This school year started off with the Manhattan Project^2, in many ways our “first attempt in learning”. Now I’m not using this as a F.A.I.L. acronym but more in a literal sense. I’ve always liked starting off the year strong, and although I wasn’t able to attend the field study, I worked even harder to exemplify my learning. This was one of the longest projects of the year, and it gave me time to delve into the history behind the Manhattan Project. I had one of my favourite memories of the school year while working on this project. On this particular day we had a sub, who after watching us all working silently on our iPads, seemed to become pretty bored. She sauntered over to my table and asked me about the Manhattan Project. I spent the next thirty minutes explaining to her in great detail the entire history, starting from Marie Curie and ending in the aftermath of the atomic bomb. The look on her face after I finished was priceless; it was this mixture of confusion, admiration, and regret for asking me the question in the first place. 

The final milestone of this project was our Manhattan Project Book. I spent countless days researching, revising, and interviewing to create a draft that would truly exemplify my learning. One of my fears going into the creation of this book was my lack of experiential learning since I wasn’t taking part in the field study.  When I asked my teachers about how I might be able to extend my learning, they gave me the idea of doing an interview. This Idea led me to interview my grandparents which gave me a human perspective on this time in history. In the end, I had created twenty-four pages of detailed, accurate, and in-depth information on the topic of the Manhattan Project. I felt extremely proud of my work and believe it is some of the highest level of work I have done at Seycove.

The next few projects introduced new leaning opportunities and competencies to be assessed. One competency that I have worked hard to improve throughout the year is literary analysis. When I write, I have always found it hard to structure my thoughts in essay form, and these assignments brought this weakness to light. Although this skill has taken multiple projects to improve, at the end of our Macbeth Project, I had finally acquired the elusive “rainbow” grade.  In fact, it was the first rainbow I had received all year.  In some ways, it was the most significant representation of my growth as a learner.

In our final unit this year, we delved into the topic of racism, it’s role in the conception of the United States to current day with the Black Lives Matter movement.  I learned about systemic racism in our institutions, ie: education, health, judicial, banking and criminal justice systems.  I found this unit to be incredibly important and relevant in today’s world. 

In this unit, I created a video, a podcast and several reflections exhibiting my learning and believe these to be some of my strongest projects this year.  I personally contribute this to my four years of experience in PLP and my understanding of the many different applications.

Here are some of the many amazing projects I have completed this year, I highly suggest you check them out:

Atomic Habits: // Building The App

Think and Create: The Path to The Mountain Top

Think and Create: The Great Northern Migration

TWIl Week Two: TV vs. Hollywood, a Paradigm of Macbeth?

Atomic Habits, by James Clear: Reflection

Field Study, No Field

PGP:

This year in PGP we have been focused around the book Atomic Habits, by James Clear. Atomic Habits is a self-help type book that teaches to build successful habits. If you’re interested in the book itself visit my Atomic Habits Reflection Blog Post. I found the book incredibly interesting, informative, and relatable. Every time I would reference back to the book, it would suck me in again. In PGP I feel I have shown my readiness to move on to the next grade level, in one main way. In the past years, PGP has only received a portion of my energy and dedication. I never really accepted the fact that this class had the same importance as my other classes. I have changed my opinion this year and have contributed the same effort and time to its projects. I know that this is the last year I will be taking PGP, and I am sad to see it go. It’s strange that you don’t really appreciate things until they’re gone.  Although there won’t be a class, I know I will carry on the lessons I have learned throughout my life. 

 

I thought I would end this year with a poem (Beat Poetry Unit “Cough” “Cough”)

Poem – The Point of No Return, by Luca 

Going ahead I was afraid, I was afraid of what to come. I accompanied the jaunt of a traveller, although my persona did succumb. 

I have tried to learned, to reminisce the days behind. It is not to go slowly into life, but to continuously rewind. 

I knew this day would come, the day of altruistic realness, selflessly offering to accompany my future.

Where faces, turned sour with seriousness, joined with a suture. Where I might walk waiting patiently for ones gaze to meet my own eyes.

I wish the days of play were not all played out, I wish when mistakes were made, they’ll float up towards the sky. 

For although no ravine separates my future and I, we might as well have made it to the place of no return. 

 

Atomic Habits: // Building The App

When I learned about this project the first thing that came to my mind was, “ How can I both address the competencies, and show a complete understanding of Atomic Habits, without going overboard.” I realize now, that I was only able to complete two out of the three different goals I set for myself. Before you jump to conclusions, It was most definitely the ability to not go overboard.

 

 

We started this project off by choosing our path to completion for our final milestone. We accomplished this by using a Tic-Tac-Toe board, which was filled out with different steps/options. Although the name doesn’t really help with the explanation, we were required to pick one step from each of the three rows. I decided that the best path for me was to first summarize the four laws of Atomic Habits, use this knowledge to create a tool that exemplifies these laws, and then reflect in a blog post. There were many reasons why I picked these steps, so I will quickly run you through my ideology.

(Personally I would have gone with the name: Think-Act-Know Board)

I’ve always thought that the most important part of the book was the four laws, so that choice was a no brainer. The four laws seemed to resonate with me the most from when I first read the book, but since that was at the begging of the year I felt like I needed to recap on what I learned.

Luca’s Four Law Summary

1 – Make it Obvious

  • Use of Implementation intentions (‘I will [Behavior] at [Time] in [Locations])
  • Use habit stacking (After the current habit, I will do the new habit) 
  • Make the cues of good habits obvious and visible.
  • The two most common cues are time and location.
  • Your habits become associated not with a single trigger but with the entire context surrounding the behaviour.

 2 – Make it Attractive

  • Habits are a dopamine-driven feedback loop. When dopamine rises, so does our motivation to act.
  • The anticipation of a reward – not the fulfillment of it.
  • One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where; your desired behaviour is the normal behaviour, and you already have something in common with the group.

3 – Make it Easy

  • Prime the environment. Prepare your environment to make future actions easier.
  • The most effective form of learning is practice, not planning.
  • We will naturally gravitate toward the option that requires the least amount of work.
  • Decrease friction with good habits, Increase friction with bad habits.

4 – Make it Satisfying

  • Use a habit tracker. Keep track of your habit streak and ‘don’t break the chain’. 
  • To get a habit to stick you need to feel immediately successful – even if it’s in a small way.
  • What is immediately rewarded is repeated. What is immediately punished is avoided.

Bonus, and by far my favourite part of the book: Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. Getting 1 percent better every day counts for a lot in the long-run. To learn more please visit https://jamesclear.com/habits. 

App

 

The next step of this project was the creation of our tool. Recently I have been making lots of videos and podcasts on different topics, and although they were really easy, I felt like I had to create something new. This was our last PGP project for possibly forever, and I felt like I owed it to my teachers to finish out strong. So taking this into account, I racked my brain a little longer until I finally discovered the tool I was looking for. I had decided that I was going to make an app. Not just any app, but an app that could be used to track habits efficiently, over a period of time. 

 

I started out with the idea to build an app that could graph habit building on daily input, a pretty lofty goal for someone that had never made an app in my life and didn’t know any coding languages. Looking back, I definitely thought that making an app would be a lot easier, and was under the assumption that I could just use a template. (but I was wrong)

First I decided to find an application that I could use to build an app, and after some research, I decided to pick Xcode. Xcode is an Apple application that comes free with a supporting Apple device and runs C, C++, Objective-C, Objective-C++, Java, AppleScript, Python, Ruby, ResEdit (Rez), and Swift. I picked Swift because it was the default for the application, it had the most video tutorials, and because I had used the app SwiftPlayground a few years ago. Little did I know that the Swift I was using was a much more complex and seemingly completely different from the code on SwiftPlayground. 

 

 

Once I got the application up and running I searched around the web for some sort of template (that was free), but to no avail; I came up empty-handed. It started to click that creating an app would be a lot harder than I thought, but I didn’t give up just yet. Next, I scoured YouTube for a tutorial and finally, I found what I was looking for. I had found a video called “Swift For Beginners: Create ToDo List App for Beginners,” by a channel called iOS Academy. The video was 45 minutes long, and ambitiously I opened the app and followed the instructional video. Five hours later, I had an app that possessed, multiple errors and crashed when I clicked the wrong button, but it was an app none the less. 

A few images of the early code, these two are just from my View Controller.

 

It was a little disheartening to know that after about (seven hours now) you still didn’t have anything close to what you wanted. To be honest, this was the point where I would have given up, but there was this small part inside me that wanted to push forward. The next day I opened Xcode, tried the simulator, hoping that the error would just magically go away, but It didn’t. So I went online to research possible solves, and although there were many different forums, the answers were very confusing to someone who had no idea what anything coding related meant.

 

The word tasks was not capitalized in my original attempt.

 

My last hope was to go back through the video to try to find what I did wrong, which evidently would have taken a lot longer than five hours. Right before I opened the video, I spent some time looking around the code for anything that looked out of place, and all of a sudden it hit me. I opened a sidebar and there it was a miss capitalized word. 

 

 

This was the first time I felt like I might be able to complete this app, and although I was sure it was only by chance, fixing that error left me with a sense of confidence. The hardest part was finding out what to do next. It had turned out that trying to fix that error had helped me to understand some of Xcode’s possibilities. This led me to learn more about formatting. Formatting was a way I could work on the app without having to code, and since I didn’t know any code, it was a safe escape from the last couple of days. Unfortunately, this also led me to another set of problems, because I would have to eventually learn code to back up what I was putting on the app. In some ways, formatting was like coding in HTML/CSS. HTML/CSS is a coding language that is used for the creation of websites and in most cases, only affects what you see on the screen. 

 

 

Finally, to finish up my app I knew I needed to complete one last step. I still needed to complete the habit tracking method that I pitched to my teachers. I knew the graph was out of the picture, and all of my formatting had left empty text boxes that didn’t save after you exited the app, so I felt a little worried. I had also tried other tutorial videos but never got them to work with my app. So I slept on it hoping, like before, I would wake up with the answer. The next day I set to work researching how to save text and after a while, I came up with another video. The video was called, “Text Field Input Text (Swift + Xcode)” by a creator called Atif Pervaiz. After starting the video, I learned that it wasn’t going to help me save the text from the boxes, but was giving me a new format to propose my habit tracking. This of course meant that I would have to backtrack some of the formatting. If it worked, I could have a working app, not just an app that sat there and looked pretty. 

 

 

This video entered me into the last phase of this project, and although the video was much shorter, figuring out where to put the code was the hardest part. Eventually, I had come to a point where I had copied the code, and it didn’t work perfectly, but to be honest I didn’t care. I had worked so hard, and getting to where I was exceeded my previous goals. I formatted this last part of the app, and eventually fixed this part of the app so it would work perfectly. I was ready. 

StoryBoard view of my finished app!!!

What I’m Leaving Out/Things to Clarify 

  • I had previously taken a 90 minute tutorial on HTML/CSS coding 
  • Fixing both the first and last errors each lasted around two days.
  • You have the biggest adrenaline rush after fixing an error that takes two days to fix.
  • I spent many hours figuring out how to upload to the AppStore, which never worked.
  • I reached out to Apple Support many times. They couldn’t help with the actual coding part of the app.
  • I could now follow video tutorials and copy them to my app, fix errors in my code, understanding parts of the coding language. I am still not able to code In Swift without instructions.

In this view I could work solely on the launch screen.

In hindsight, creating an app pushed me to my limit on many different fronts. I had been optimistic in the beginning, and although I had created an app that matches my original criteria, it took me a lot longer to complete than expected. It definitely wasn’t the easiest way to get the grade that I wanted, or the most efficient. Will I make an app again in the future? Probably, if I could get more technical support.

Addressing the Curricular Competencies:

Think: How do I make choices, question decisions, and develop habits to support achievement? 

This competency reflects the start of this project, and the decision making proses. When I set my overarching goals at the begging of this project, I wanted to succeed. Although I couldn’t take into account how much time it would take, I knew creating an app would be a positive learning experience. The creation of this app has taught me the valuable lesson of not giving up, even when the odds are against you. I have found life is like a game of Othello, in one move you can turn the whole thing around.

Act: How do I create and demonstrate a thorough and thoughtful understanding?

When I first started my research for this app, I knew that I would have to find a way to support this competency. It has been hard to demonstrate my learning and understanding through the app. One of the ways I addressed this competency was by my reflection in my blog. I wanted to show the research that went into not only creating the app, but also refining my understanding of Atomic Habits, a book that has defined this year’s learning.  In doing so, I was able to use the four laws of Atomic Habits, and reinforce my own habits of perseverance, accountability and positive mindset. 

Reflect: How do I reflect to build knowledge?

In the beginning, part of my plan was to have a short and concise blog post on my app. I should have known that the blog post would reflect the apps creation, by being long, difficult, and rewarding. Reflecting on my app creation has given me a better understanding of my own learning, as well as reminding me why I started this project in the first place. Through this process, I have not only learned about coding, but the importance of giving myself a break when I’m feeling stuck, and coming back to the task when I can be more positive.  Most importantly, I’ve learned that if you put your mind to something, anything is possible.

Think and Create: The Path to The Mountain Top

After a lot of contemplation, Luca continued to reach for a new topic. Well he didn’t necessary reach out aimlessly, he knew what had sparked his interest in the last few weeks, he just couldn’t place a finger on it. Luca knew that all he had to do, but didn’t know how to do it. Then like a falling anvil, it struck him.

 

Inquiry Question: 

What drives somebody to stand up for what they believe in, even if standing up puts their own life at risk?

In a civilization built on oppression, the civil rights movements of the 50s and 60s, exhibit the selflessness and determination that it takes to free a minority from racial profiling and prosecution. When I was originally searching for this topic, I felt like I had to create a Podcast. In fact, I had decided on this well before I had started looking for an idea in the first place. In the past weeks, I have been recording music to use for school projects and personal use, as well as the audio for my last video. All of this time spent on GarageBand has made podcasting quite easy. I have also fallen upon a set plan for how I approach making a podcast:

1. Pick a topic, the more specific the better.

2. Do a LOT of research. You will know you are done when you feel like you have to bring it up in every conversation.

3. Write the script. Tip: For every word you get one more second in your podcast.

4. Gather your media/interviews.

5. Record… Edit… Repeat until your podcast flows together. Leave spaces to separate your words just like you would when you write.

6. Add media: music, sound effects, interviews.

7. Now edit your audio as a whole. How does your voice sound, should the music cut in and out, equalize the audio.

8. (Get Critique – Revise) Repeat until you feel satisfied with the final project.

9. Upload

10. Share to an audience!!!

 

When I made my podcast I followed a very similar structure.

In my podcast, I interviewed my grandparents to have secondary opinions on my Inquiry Question.

“ In search for more answers I decided to conduct interviews with Jim and Adrienne Oliver, Jim lived in Chicago In the 60s, were he was highly educated through preparatory schools, Ivy League Colleges and played jazz. Adriane lived in Hollywood, California and taught at an elementary school.Their different perspectives lead me to learn more about this time period and helped me finalize my inquiry question.”  – Exert for the Podcast.

 

Overall, I found this topic quite inspiring, and many times I found myself caught up in a new MLK speech that had no connection to my topic whatsoever. The theme of standing up for what you believe in, no mater the consequences, reoccurs throughout the civil rights movement. Although Martin Luther King Jr. is a great example of this trait, he shares it with many visionaries of his time period.

Think and Create: The Great Northern Migration

 

I first learned about The Great Migration when I was studying music and its connections to civil rights in the 1900s. As I started to learn more and more about the civil rights movements, I began to understand the significance of The Great Migration. I decided to focus my second Think and CreateThink and Create on this topic because I believe it has one of the most pivotal roles in American civil rights. The Great Northern Migration was the effect of over 300 years of racism, segregation and at its worst slavery, its influence has spanned generations, and its significance is renowned to this day.

The video above was a culmination of research, formalization, creation, and revision. In the beginning, I had the idea to create a video on The Great Migration which focused on a the causes and effects, but as time passed the final draft seemed to become exponentially larger. The video now includes a hand made wooden model of an old River Boat, and a self-accompanied rendition of Louis Armstrong’s, What a Wonderful World. I especially enjoyed creating this video, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Creativity Is a Process, Not an Event – James Clear Article

After reading the book, Atomic Habits, by James Clear, our class was given the opportunity to read between the lines, and do some external research. One of these opportunities was reading the many articles on the author’s website, JamesClear.com. After scanning through the first couple articles, one caught my eye. I would like to think that  I am a creative person, in fact, it is one of my most valued traits. When I stumbled upon an article on creativity, I felt obliged to continue reading.

The article I picked was “Creativity Is a Process, Not an Event,” and it happened to outline some of the questions I have around creativity. Like most of James Clear’s articles, the titles truly encompass what he writes about. This is different than the clickbait I am used to.  The article summarizes that creativity is not an event it’s a process, it isn’t a eureka moment. You have to work through mental barriers and internal blocks. You have to commit to practicing your craft deliberately. You have to stick with the process for years, and not let failure or embarrassment get in your way. James Clear outlines the many different ways that prohibit, as well as permit creativity, one of them being a growth and fixed mindset, a topic we have encountered before. Another recurring topic is that you need to work hard, practice deliberately and put in your reps. I remember this being a focal point in his book, Atomic Habits.

“As I mentioned in my article on Threshold Theory, being in the top 1 percent of intelligence has no correlation with being fantastically creative. Instead, you simply have to be smart (not a genius) and then work hard, practice deliberately and put in your reps.” – James Clear

This article also connects being creative to some of the freedoms we have now in self isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although I realize that some of these connections are subjective, I believe these paths to unlocking your inner creativity can be shaped to fit your schedule. One of the connections Clear makes is that some people now have the ability to sleep a little longer, whether that is because they don’t have to drive to work every day, or  don’t have a set school schedule (like me). Clear explains that, “The findings of a study suggest sleep debt is cumulative and if you get 6 hours of sleep per night for two weeks straight, your mental and physical performance declines to the same level as if you had stayed awake for 48 hours straight. Like all cognitive functions, creative thinking is significantly impaired by sleep deprivation.”

Another connection is that we now have the free time to go outside and enjoy sunshine and nature. James Clear explains that, “One study tested 56 backpackers with a variety of creative thinking questions before and after a 4-day backpacking trip. The researchers found that by the end of the trip the backpackers had increased their creativity by 50 percent. This research supports the findings of other studies, which show that spending time in nature and increasing your exposure to sunlight can lead to higher levels of creativity.”  I have started to implement these two creativity enablers in my daily life. I have started to go to sleep earlier and wake up later, as well as eating breakfast and lunch outside.  I have also been taking hikes in the forest and appreciating the nature around me.

In class, most of our learning is formulated through Core, and Curricular Competencies. The competencies that have focused our learning recently in PGP are:

  • Connect: How do I communicate and collaborate to build understanding?

  • Reflect: How do I reflect to build knowledge?

The way that I want to address these competencies is by highlighting a few points that I have learned while reading this article and believe are worth sharing.

Point One:

  • Positive psychology research has revealed that we tend to think more broadly when we are happy. This concept, known as the Broaden and Build Theory, makes it easier for us to make creative connections between ideas. Conversely, sadness and depression seems to lead to more restrictive and limited thinking.  Thus, I have realized that it is important that I create habits in my life that bring me happiness.  This in turn, will increase my creative abilities and allow me to pursue my passions.

Point Two:

  • The story of the falling apple has become one of the lasting and iconic examples of the creative moment. It is a symbol of the inspired genius that fills your brain during those “eureka moments” when creative conditions are just right. What most people forget, however, is that Newton worked on his ideas about gravity for nearly twenty years until, in 1687, he published his groundbreaking book. The falling apple was merely the beginning of a train of thought that continued for decades.  I find this incredibly helpful in my thought processes around creativity.  To understand that creativity is a process and not just the moment of creative genius, reduces the pressure I put on myself, and in turn, allows me to be more creative.

Citations:

Clear, James. “Debunking the Eureka Moment: Creative Thinking Is a Process.” James           Clear, James Clear, 12 June 2018, jamesclear.com/creative-thinking. Assessed May 6, 2020.

 

 

Think and Create: COVID-19 Exposes Racism in America

The world is facing an unprecedented crisis and, “ Every major crisis or catastrophe hits the most venerable communities the hardest,” states Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League. Throughout the past few months the Canadian and American governments, have been tasked with combating, and eventually  eradicating the Coronavirus, COVID-19. As families and communities preserver in this trying time, some communities due to structural racism have been hit harder than others.

 

 

I first came across this topic last week while watching The Daily Show w/ Trevor Noah, and it blew my mind. As the major media outlets first focused on larger governmental issues, important stories like this one seem to have been swept under the rug. COVID-19 has created a economic catastrophe in many countries, and although governments are trying to combat this with small business loans and tax cuts, there is also a factor that doesn’t involve money, it involves racism. As Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said last week at a White House coronavirus task force briefing, this crisis “is shining a bright light on how unacceptable that is, because yet again, when you have a situation like the coronavirus, [African Americans] are suffering disproportionately.” (NPR)

In states like Michigan, African Americans make up 41%  of COVID-19 deaths while only being 14% of the population. In Chicago, black residents represent 72% of deaths, but just 30% of the population. Louisiana’s population is 32 % black, and about 70% of coronavirus deaths are African Americans. The data is clear, the coronavirus is disproportionately impacting and killing African Americans in the United States. (CBS)(CNN)

 

 

 

– How Is The Coronavirus Affecting Black Americans? (NPR)

Now, why is this happening? When you look at the systemic and social economic factors facing black people in America today, it makes complete sense. Overall, due to economic inequities and inadequate healthcare, African Americans are less likely to have health insurance, are more likely to have pre-existing conditions like obesity, asthma, and diabetes, and are also more likely to be in service jobs where they can’t self isolate. Of course, there’s always just straight-up racism that affects African Americans as well. For example, one study has found that black people are less likely to be offered a coronavirus test by their doctor even if they’re exhibiting the same symptoms as white patients. (NPR)

“The way African Americans are being impacted by this crisis and the difficulties that remain in getting a coronavirus test in low-income communities has left people feeling they are being neglected yet again.” – Dr Kowalik, health commissioner in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.(BBC)

 

Some studies contribute these staggering numbers, to higher stress levels in African Americans, linked to racial discrimination and poverty.(NPR) In many ways, major catastrophes like the COVID-19 virus expose the injustices and inequities placed on minorities in American. It shows the structural unfairness created long ago by white settlers, that increasingly comprise the lives of minorities in today’s society.

“And the reason I want to bring it up, because I couldn’t help sitting there reflecting on how sometimes when you’re in the middle of a crisis, like we are now with the coronavirus, it really does have, ultimately, shine a very bright light on some of the real weaknesses and foibles in our society,” – Dr. Fauci

TWIL #3: Unchecked Ambition Leads to Destruction

 


“I have no spur

To prick the sides of my intent, but only

Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself

And falls on the other.” – Macbeth (Act 1, Scene 7) 


 

Themes of Macbeth:

One of the major themes in the play Macbeth by Shakespeare is how unchecked ambition causes a man’s downfall. Although characters other than Macbeth benefit from their ambition, as Banquo clearly has some of his own, the fatal conflict in Macbeth’s character is that his ambition drives him to commit deeds that destroy his inner peace. Ambition, in general, is tempered by a regard for society and a sense of moral responsibility.  Macbeth’s disregard for these aspects is what causes his own downfall and that of Scotland. 

Similarities Between the 1950s and Macbeth.

In the past weeks, we have been tasked to decipher the similarities of the 1950s and Macbeth. This week we covered many different historical events that connect with aspects of the play’s plot and themes. One event that has a very strong connection to this play, and in particular, the sentiment above, is the Korean war. The Korean war was fought between North and South Korea, two nations created by the collateral damage of WWII. When The Second World War ended, Korea, previously occupied by Japan, was split into two sides; the North occupied by communist Russia and the South occupied by the democratic USA and the UN. Leading the fight in the American supported South Korea was General Douglas MacArthur.

General MacArthur and The Korean War:

General MacArthur was a very prominent army figure, a general with a long list of deployments. Some would say that MacArthur was also ambitious from a young age. He was Valedictorian at the West Texas Military Academy where he attended high school, and First Captain at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated top of the class of 1903. When the Korean War started, he was unanimously recommended to become Commander-in-Chief of the United Nations Command. Once in-charge, MacArthur was immediately successful in forcing the North Korean troops to retreat. Soon MacArthur was able to push his offensive line to the 38th parallel, the original border. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end for MacArthur and his troops. Although the original objective was to continue to fight for land in now communist China, their plans were stopped in their tracks.

In class I attempt Cornell note taking. This particular image includes the topic of the Korean War, and first sparked my interest on the topic.

The enemy now had help from the Chinese, which rendered significant losses to the American and other UN troops. Nevertheless, MacArthur’s officers downplayed the evidence about Chinese intervention in the war. They estimated that up to 71,000 Chinese soldiers were in the country, while the true number was closer to 300,000. After further research, I realized that MacArthur revealed false numbers because he was adamant that he would eventually win, even though the odds showed otherwise. This is where his ambition lead him astray. 


“I am in blood

Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,

Returning were as tedious as go o’er.” – Macbeth (Act 3, Scene 4)


What did General Douglas MacArthur do next? As Southern China and Norther Korea fell back under Communist control, MacArthur’s unchecked ambition eventually led to his demise. After talks with many of his associates, he decided that the best way to win was to use an atomic bomb on China. It became clear that his ambition to win the war had overcome his moral responsibilities as a human being. Obviously, he never used an atomic bomb, otherwise this would be the topic of the entire project. Even though the president finally denied him the use if bombs, he stayed persistent in his belief of this immoral action. An action that eventually led him to be excused from the army, by the President of the United States. 


“I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.” – Truman 


General MacArther and Macbeth:

General MacArthur and Macbeth have many similarities in both characteristics and actions. Both of them took the leadership role only to eventually lose all morality while protecting their position and reputation. These two stories are strung together by the reckless power of unchecked ambition. A power that I am starting to recognize as a larger theme in this unit.

 

Here is a short (self made) animated gif symbolizing the end of the play. I animated on Animation Desk, and created the gif using the free website EZGif.com.

Citations: 

History.com Editors. “Douglas MacArthur.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 29 Oct. 2009, www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/douglas-macarthur. Accessed Mar 4, 2020.

History.com Editors. “Korean War.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, November 9, 2009. https://www.history.com/topics/korea/korean-war. Accessed Mar 4, 2020.

SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. https://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/macbeth/themes/. Accessed Mar 4, 2020.

“Macbeth by William Shakespeare.” enotes.com. enotes.com, n.d. https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/explain-briefly-antagonist-protagonist-macbeth-216167. Accessed Mar 4, 2020.

TWIl Week Two: TV vs. Hollywood, a Paradigm of Macbeth?

Through extensive research, I have finally found a sound connection between the 1950s and Macbeth. Although this week’s concepts felt separated in context I knew there must be a connection between these two subjects. 

Note Taking 1950s:

After looking back through my notes in the 1950s, I found a pivotal relationship that can be contrasted against the storyline of Macbeth, Hollywood and television. Hollywood and its film studios have always pined for a monopolistic enterprise. To this day, its control of pop culture is momentous. In class, we briefly learned about its struggles with the 1950s movements. Targeted by both the government and the anti-Communist movement, which at the time were one and the same, Hollywood suffered some of the worst losses it had ever faced. To get more insight into this time period I decided to interview my grandparents who happened to be in town. Their knowledge helped me to generate this thesis.  

Evidence:

Here I created a short podcast in which I interviewed two of my grandparents about their childhood in the 1950s. This knowledge helped me generate my overall thesis for this post, and widened my understanding of this historical time period.

Originally, I found the connection between Hollywood and Macbeth, through my notes. I noticed that there were many different references of Hollywood spanning across all of the topics we were learning about. When I started to research this topic, I found that the film and broadcasting industries have shared a “symbiotic relationship” since the 1920s, with the major Hollywood companies attempting to develop and control television as a new distribution outlet. In the 1950s, the film companies produced programming for much of the prime-time TV schedule, and they also experimented with alternatives to broadcast television. 

 

My Thesis:

By the end of the 1950s, diversification was well underway, and the Hollywood film companies were attempting to become media companies. As Hollywood sought to control and corner the television market it received a fair amount of backlash, mostly because of Hollywood’s tenuous relationship with the government. Even though they were warned many times to back down, as time went on, studios continued to pursue this ambition. Hollywood’s bid to own television outlets mostly failed by this point, hindered largely by forces outside the film industry, especially the U.S. government. The government’s hostility towards the film industry was apparent as early as 1940 when the FCC, Federal Communications Commission, held hearings on technical standards for television, as well as warning a group of Hollywood executives not to count on control or extensive ownership in the developing television business.

In later efforts to thwart Hollywood’s ambition, the FCC froze the licensing of new television stations to prevent new ownership of these stations. But most importantly, many of the studios’ applications (especially Paramount’s) were denied or withdrawn after the government’s successful antitrust suit against them. The FCC’s policy was established in the Communications Act of 1934, which authorized the agency to refuse licenses to individuals or companies convicted of monopolistic activities. 

It has been argued that television was the primary factor affecting the dramatic plunge in ticket sales, box-office receipts, and company profits in Hollywood between 1947 and 1957. Hollywood much like Macbeth, had the character flaw of valuing ambition and over-controlling behaviours. Although today Hollywood has sprung back to the top of the entertainment industry, if they had been patient and waited through the hard times, I could only imagine where they might be today.  

Although I have hinted towards the connections between these historical events and Macbeth, I realize that I need to go into more detail. Like I mentioned above, both Hollywood and Macbeth are overly ambitious and “power-hungry.” Hollywood’s quest for control over the television networks is very similar to Macbeth’s quest for control of the crown. An additional parallel is that these parties’ experienced a similar ultimate downfall. Both Hollywood and Macbeth are trying to control the element that will eventually bring them destruction.

How to turn this into a movie:

Another factor we have to decipher is the Driving Question for this unit: Appearance vs. Reality. I believe you can tie this to the fact that both groups didn’t show their hardships visibly, although it is clear today that they both faced many challenges. In the interview above Adriane and Jim Oliver explained that they didn’t recognize any political hardships or scandals placed on Hollywood at the time. Therefore, Hollywood changes their appearance to hide their reality, as Macbeth constantly does during the play. Hopefully, in the future of the project, our final movie could be based on the same or a similar concept. Below I have created a Story Arc exhibiting a mixture of both historical and Shakespearean storylines.  

 

Citations: 

Film History of the 1950s, www.filmsite.org/50sintro.html. Accessed Mar 4, 2020.

Blakemore, Erin. “How TV Killed Hollywood’s Golden Age.”  History.com, A&E Television Networks, 3 Jan. 2018, www.history.com/news/how-tv-killed-hollywoods-golden-age. Accessed Mar 4, 2020.

SparkNotes, SparkNotes, www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/macbeth/antagonist/. Accessed Mar 4, 2020.

“Macbeth by William Shakespeare.” Enotes.com, Enotes.com, www.enotes.com/homework-help/explain-briefly-antagonist-protagonist-macbeth-216167. Accessed Mar 4, 2020.

Vartanian, Hrag, et al. “Film Studios Left Hollywood in the 1950s and Changed the Business Forever.” Hyperallergic, 13 Aug. 2019, hyperallergic.com/513201/runaway-hollywood-ucla-film-television-archive/. Accessed Mar 4, 2020.

2020 MPOL: Challenges

This last segment of the school year has been very demanding. I have found challenges in the most unexpected projects, and have been partaking in the unhealthy cycle of constantly being waited down with work. As the dust settles, I am able to clearly see what I can do to improve and upgrade my performance for the rest of the year. It has been a long trip to get to where I am today, and I’m prepared to bring my future work to the next level. 

We started the year off early with a summer reading assignment. Our class assigned the book The Age of Radiance, by Craig Nelson, a long but fulfilling read. Even at the beginning of the year, it was incredibly hard to motivate to read this novel. Now granted, this was heightened because it was the middle of summer, and also signified the start of school. I knew that I had to create a reason to motivate, otherwise I wouldn’t finish the book.

Now, if I had read Atomic Habits by James Clear first, I would have known exactly what to do to complete this task, a book assigned five months later. I decided that I would have to create a scenario where I was forced to complete the task of reading the book. I achieved this by introducing the book to my parents. Once I had done this, I knew there was no turning back, I would have to read the book.  Although this created another problem logistically.

We used Audible as our platform to listen to the book as a family.

There was no way that I was going to sit down with my parents and read the same book off of my iPad. The solution to this problem was simple, all I had to do was to download the book on Audible so we could listen to it together. It just so happened that we were traveling on a three-hour car drive down to my grandparent’s house that upcoming week. This gave us a total of six hours (there and back) of uninterrupted listening time with my family, about one-third of the entire book. This really helped me get into a pattern of listening to the book in my free time and ultimately, helped me to finish the book in the long run. 

Overcoming challenges like these have been a big part of these last few months. Although there are many positive examples of exceeding in certain subjects, it is certainly more emotionally difficult to go back through some of the harder times this year. Balancing my classes in and out of PLP and the amount of school work has definitely been an ongoing struggle, and has made my learning process more difficult.

This is especially relevant in PLP because the amount of homework can build up to a tipping point. A point where school feels like a circus balancing act in front of a crowd of all of your peers. One of my main goals this year is to not reach this point as I’ve done in the past. Now, this could mean anything from getting my work done earlier, to separating want from necessity. I found in most projects that my lowest points were filled with the most learning, which has both positive and negative aspects.  In some scenarios, this time helped to introduce a creative breakthrough, where as in others, it created a sleep-deprived mess. Achieving this balance, also talked about in Atomic Habits, by James Clear, is a true measure of success.

There have been a few different examples of achieving this balance in my work, one being the Beat Poetry Unit in Humanities. I found this unit very rewarding in the work to free time ratio that I previously mentioned. There were many different ways I achieved this balance, although one is definitely worth sharing. I started off this unit finding ways to think in advance and structure homework so it didn’t eventually pile up. When a new project was introduced, I would work on parts of the project separately to help lessen the load. I exemplified this in many different ways, for example writing 250 words every/every other day before the final blog post was due, or formatting the poems in a single document with the same font and margin.

These tactics helped to spread the workload over many different days and sometimes led to turning assignments in early. Unfortunately, these tactics aren’t perfect and in certain scenarios are not ideal. You have to know all of the criteria, and hope it doesn’t change before you start the assignment early, otherwise you will end up doing more lesser quality work than was originally asked. It definitely is a trial and error process, which in this case is incredibly rewarding when you get it right. 

This first part of the school year has been filled to the brim with interesting and pertinent learning. Although I have faced new challenges, I have found solutions that have helped me get to where I am today. In the fashion of a mPol post I would like to pose the thoughtful question: 

Throughout this year I have faced many challenges mostly surrounding balancing my workload. What other methods would you suggest that could help me at the moment, or in the future tackling this dilemma? 

 

TWIL: Macbeth and the 1950’s

This week I learned about many different aspects of our new, Macbeth: Hide Your Fires unit. This project was introduced a week and a half ago, and covers many different topics. One of the main areas of study in this unit is the Shakespeare play and namesake Macbeth. This unit also covers the late 1940s-1950s, focusing on the Cold War and starting where our learning ended in the Manhattan Project^2. As you will see in the coming weeks, the TWIL (this week I learned) post will recap my learning for the week, and provide a conection between these two topics.

 

First Perception of Macbeth:

By the time this project was officially introduced to our class, I was already incredibly excited about contributing to the class “Macbeth” movie hinted weeks before. I had never done any research into Macbeth, which to me was quite surprising since I enjoy speaking and listening to Shakespeare. Originally my thoughts on creating the movie were based on a more innocent perception of Macbeth. As I read and interpret the text,  this notion becomes more and more fleeting. It turns out that a large portion of Macbeth is disturbingly descriptive and incredibly obscene. You wouldn’t have a play if you took out all of the sexual references and gory killings. In fact, the main reason the original audience went to see the play is because of these said elements.

Symbolism in Macbeth:

I also found that this unit reminds me of a lot of our symbolism lesson in the Lord of The Flies, mostly because there seems to be deeper meanings behind everything. Even though we haven’t focused on the themes of Macbeth, we have learned a lot about what influenced Shakespeare while writing the play. A good example of this is his constant sexual referencing. In most cases, where this theme doesn’t directly add to the story, Shakespeare is pitching to a audience that was more open about crude sexual content that we are today. The scenes that make me feel a little uncomfortable are probably the ones that got the biggest outroar back in the late 1400s to early 1500s.

Paradox in Macbeth:

We also learned about one of the most apparent poetic devices in Macbeth, the paradox. This can clearly be seen in lines like, “Fair is foul and foul is fair,” and “When the battle lost and won.” We have learned that a paradox is a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement, that when investigated or explained may prove to be true. Shakespeare’s uses of paradox hide a deeper meaning or truth from the listener, one that as a class we have been working hard to uncover.

1950s and Connections to Past Projects:

Most recently we have begun to learn about the historical side of this unit. As I mentioned previously, we are starting from where we left off, which in this case is the end of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War. In our summer reading book The Age Of Radiance, by William Golding, I was given a slight glance into what our class would be eventually learning, the start of the Cold War. Along with any prior knowledge, The Age of Radiance, was instrumental in explaining how we got there.  It has been very interesting in some ways to read the “next chapter” in this large book of our history.  I found that in this past week there has been a lot of learning in a small amount of time, and to be honest I’m not complaining.

 

Evidence:  

The main question we have been asked in class is, “Why are the 1950s and the play Macbeth being taught together, and what similarities might they have?” I realized early on that the 1950s were a very important and crucial time in our history. There were many different world-changing events that happened on a daily basis, and many important decisions consantly being made. One strong connection I have found between these two subjects is the political decision making.

In some ways, Macbeth and the Soviet Union can be compounded to exhibit an ambitious and power-hungry vessel. Where on the other hand I could see a possible alliance in the play coupled with the NATO alience. Macbeth could easily share moments of political outbursts with our history, creating an ongoing analogy that helps to explain the influence behind the actions of our past political leaders. These two subjects also provide a large amount of learning material. This can help to sophisticate a unit and create a better  for the students. I’m quite interested in what the rest of this unit has to offer, and what connections I will be able to make in the coming weeks.

Citations:

SparkNotes, SparkNotes, www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/macbeth/themes/. Accessed Mar 4, 2020.

Jamieson, Lee. “How Ambition Causes Macbeth’s Downfall.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 20 Sept. 2019, www.thoughtco.com/ambition-of-macbeth-2985019. Accessed Mar 4, 2020.

History.com Editors. “NATO.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 14 Apr. 2010, www.history.com/topics/cold-war/formation-of-nato-and-warsaw-pact. Accessed Mar 4, 2020.

“USSR and PRC Sign Mutual Defense Treaty.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 13 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/ussr-and-prc-sign-mutual-defense-treaty. Accessed Mar 4, 2020.