We are all artists

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I recently heard a podcast that I thought related to my AP English class. It was an interview of Seth Godin.

One point that Godin made really stuck out to me. He pointed out that schools teach obedience that isn’t valuable in the real world. School teaches us to work by ourselves and to search for the one right answer. In the real world this won’t help you. People who become successful do it “despite what they did in school, not because of what they did in school.” The way we are taught in school causes us to be afraid of being wrong, instead of having the confidence to stand up and say “I made this”.

My English teacher does everything he can to break us out of the obedience we have learned in our previous years of school, and it is a nice breath of fresh air. He gives us open ended essay with just a mode of writing and not a topic. So you can write about your favorite sport instead of the teacher telling you to write about what you did over summer vacation. It has really helped me to improve my writing. I have found that since I can now write about anything that I want I get more personally attached to my essay, and this in the end makes them better. Before this class a lot of my essay were very textbook and not creative, but breaking out of the typical dog obedience way of school has helped me to change that.

Breaking-Free

Photo @2011 by Jeff Randleman (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The freedom we are given in my English class, especially in our essays, also relates to another point that Godin makes. He stated that you’re “not going to make it as a worker bee, but as someone who is figuring out what to do next”. I feel the typical essay prompt could be compared to the worker bee, and our open ended essays cause us to be the people figuring out what to do next. I have really noticed a significant difference in trying to change from the worker bee into the person figuring out what to do next. For many of my essays I have found myself sitting in front of my computer for sometimes even an hour trying to decide what to write about. I feel this is because I have never had to do this before. I was always given the topic and never told to pick my own. It seems obvious that creativity and the ability to think on our own is something we are going to need once we finish school. So, why are we not taught this in school? Why are we forced to follow this dog like obedience?

Godin says that and artist is not just a painter or writer, but anyone who is willing to trying something new. One assignment in my class that forces us to be artists is our blogs. Along with this blog I am also part of a group blog(tlcmd3). On this blog our only directions were to post at least once a week. What we write about is completely up to us. I am still struggling with this one because there is just so many things to write about, and I have a really hard time trying to pick something. My blog posts have ranged from things about Family Traditions to finding your “thing”. And even though I am struggling with these blog posts, I know they will help me to become an artist.

I found it interesting during the interview when he talked about the different views people have on the world. He called one of them the Walmart view, the people that want as much as possible for as cheap as possible. He called the opposite the abundance view, these are the people that seek what they don’t have enough of. I thought this was really interesting because our society is definitely closer to the Walmart view than the abundance view. People today buy as much as possible just so they can say they have it. But, I disagree with him when he says that a world with the abundance is the world that builds connections. I think that a world with the Walmart view can build the same connections. People today stay very isolated from people they don’t have common interests with, and the Walmart view helps people to build those common interests.

Seth Godin’s interview really opened up my eyes to how we are and are not prepared for the real world when we graduate from school. While we might think we are ready to step out on our own, we actually still have a lot more learning to do.

How are individuals better than a community?

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While reading The Scarlet Letter, we were tasked with answering a question on the topic individual vs. community. The question that I intend to answer is “How is and individual better than a community?”
The Scarlet Letter is a great source for answering this question. One of the main parts of the book is how Hester Prynne is ridiculed for the crime she has committed. The members of the community, which are the villagers, constantly judge Hester even though they only know one thing about her. But, Hester, as the individual, overcomes this and does not let it get to her. Hester is a great example of how individuals are better than a community because they are free to do as they wish without the restrictions of a community.
Ellen Goodman states “We have nieces and nephews left dangling like participles from other lives and stepfamilies entirely off the family tree. Our reality is more flexible and our relationships more supportive than our language.”( p316). In our current day society it is more common for families to break apart, and relationships to be left undefined. There are people that are left with relationships that mean a lot to them, but no idea as to whether that person is a part of their extended family. An individual does not define their relationships by the title that person has but by what that person means to them. The titles are something that communities have created, as another way to control the individuals.
In many ways communities have created several rules or “societal norms” to control individuals.In this day and age people have lost the ability to choose their friends. In “Facebook Friendonomics”, Scott Brown discusses how communities have used Facebook to control individuals. They have an unending list of friends on Facebook that just keeps getting longer. It has become the status-quo to have a long list of friends that you don’t actually talk to. As Brown states “We’ve lost our right to lose touch”, you no longer have the feeling of losing contact with that one friend from high school, and society says you can’t unfriend them. “We scrawl ‘Friends Forever’ in yearbooks, but we quietly realize, with relief, that some bonds are meant to be shed, like snakeskin or a Showtime subscription. It’s nature’s way of allowing you to change, adapt, evolve, or devolve as you wish”. This is yet another example of societal norms that force individuals into doing something in a certain way. These are the things that make individuals better than communities. An individual has the freedom to do what they wish when they wish to do it. A community decides what the individuals can do and when they can do it.
While discussing this topic in class I realized that this theme of how individuals are better than communities can be seen everywhere in our society. One of the most common places I saw this theme was in songs. Two main songs that I thought expressed individuality well are “Secrets” by Mary Lambert and “Try” by Colbie Caliat. Both of these are very popular songs. “Secrets” is a song that talks about being yourself and not allowing society to control you. Lambert song says “They tell us from the time we’re young/ To hide the things we don’t like about ourselves/ Inside ourselves/ I know I’m not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else/ Well I’m over it/ I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are”. I listen to this song all the time and I feel that it has a great message. It encourages people not to hide behind what society wants them to be, but to break out and be themselves. “Try” by Colbie Caliat talks about not trying so hard to meet the societal norms and not trying to be something you aren’t. “You don’t have to try so hard/ you don’t have to give it all away/ You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up/ You don’t have to change a single thing”. Caliat and Lambert are two of the many artists that have written songs that express individuality and breaking out of the restrictions that a community sets.
So, through The Scarlet Letter, essays by Brown and Goodman, and songs by Caliat and Lambert. I have found an answer to my question.
How are individuals better than a community?
Individuals are better than a community because they are unique and free. Communities try to set restrictions on individuals to control them. But, and individual has the ability to break free from these restrictions and truly be themselves.

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Photo @2014 by Marsel Minga [CC-by-2.0]

Description Shows Your Thoughts

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A description essay is a great way to learn about someone. It shows their insight into something that means something to them. It shows how this place or thing makes them feel, and sometimes even the memories that they have surrounding the subject.
For my essay i described a classroom at my school. This room is the band room. I am a member of the color guard at our school, which is part of the marching band. My essay explains the for me and many of the other students that this place is like a second home. It shows the memories that we have in that room, and that the band room make us feel safe.
The room is cold from the air conditioning. The speckled white tiles have just been waxed. The off white walls hold the memories of hundreds of high school students.
The whiteboard in the front of the room freshly cleaned, still covered lightly in the remnants of music notes. The other with the schedule for the week plastered on it. The rack of papers by the office door, filled with flyers for the ongoing fundraisers.
Trophies fill the shelves and overflow onto the floor. Years of memories, shows that will never be forgotten, all encased in plastic and metal of all shapes, sizes, and colors. The walls are covered in plaques. Organized in order from 1982 until 2014, remembering the accomplishments of the members that were there before.
A large portion of the partially clean room is filled with instruments. The instruments that fill the room all belong to the students. The students that think of this as their second home. The come here to relax, because they know there will be someone there that they can be with. They associate this room with the positive memories they have from their high school career: the friends, the practices, the trophies they worked so hard to win.
An entire corner of the room dedicated to the marimbas, gongs, and other large instruments. The rest hidden in the halls and other rooms. The extra room filled with the drums, and the string instruments. A large piano in the front of the room used to teach the musicians.
The back hall covered in cubbies. Decorated with drawings of the previous owners, some full of sheet music, small instruments, tape, or gloves. Flag racks left empty, waiting for the new team to place their equipment on them. Above the cubbies are boxes full of memories. From the Fourth of July parade shirts to center pieces form past banquets.
The racks of uniforms sit in the corner waiting for the next time the students will wear them. To the members they serve as a reminder of fun times they have shared. The flags hanging from racks serve as reminders for the variety of shows. For the team they are a reminder of the students that marched before them. The long lasting friends that they have made.
As the students fill the room, the atmosphere changes. From a quiet room full of memories, to a room full of excited students ready to start a new year. They are reminded of all of the students that stood in their position in previous years. The hum of music begins, it can be heard from outside. The iconic symbol of the band room. The new season begins, with the new students that will make new memories.

Our Schools and Education

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Most people would say that the true goal of education is to give children everything they need to be successful in life after school. While this is the truth it is not necessarily what all children get out of school. There are many aspects of our education system that are trying to force all of the students to be the same and teach them that there is only one way to do everything.
According to James Baldwin “the paradox of education is precisely this—that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated…But no society is really anxious to have that kind of person around”(198). As children grow up and are educated they begin to form their own opinions about certain subjects, but in school these opinions do not matter. Instead of being taught to stick to their own opinions they are taught that things must be done a certain way. This is not fulfilling the purpose of preparing them for the real world, because in the real world they have to do things on their own and form their own opinions. There will not be anyone standing in front of them telling them the right way to do everything.
Similarly the opinions that the children do form are highly influenced by what they are told in schools. The way that the teacher feels about a topic or how it is taught in general definitely influences the way that a child views that particular topic. This shows the bias in our school system. While the opinions might differ based on where in the United Sates the school is located, this still takes place. Some people might see this as harmless. But, if the views of the students are being influenced by the schools, then the child never really learns how to form and support their own opinions.
Another huge way that our educations system does not meet the true goals of education is by saying, “there are only two types of people – academic and non-academic; smart people and non smart people”( Robinson 1). In most schools there are programs such as honors and advanced placement(AP). While these programs are great because they challenge the students that need to be challenged. They almost always have an opposite, that is for students that in the schools opinion are not “as smart” as the other students. Some people might think that this not a bad thing and that there needs to be a level of every subject for all students. While it is true that every student should be in the level that they are ready for, this system gives students a label based on what class they are. They could be labeled as not as smart because they are in the lower English class. When in reality they are very smart, and their strong subject is math not English. This means that are some students that are not receiving everything out of school that the other students are.
The education system in our society is right for some students, and these students get everything they need out of the time they spend in the education system. On the other hand there are some students that for one reason or another do not get everything that they need out of the education system, which means they may not be as prepared for life after school. The education system is always changing and there are people that will always be able to find flaws in it. The teachers and schools do everything they can to give every student the best education possible. As society continues to change so will the education system, and they will always do whatever is believed to be the best for the students.