Monday, February 10, 2014

Reflection 1st Semester 10th Grade

Last semester was the first semester I actually felt truly proud of myself. Day after day everyone learns something new, something that will make them wiser, something that will make their life's just a bit more interesting and exciting, something that will make them see the world with other eyes. 

I feel that I understand things I did not know existed, but then again there's so much I don't know, much more than I do. I have taken all that I learned in my short little life and am putting it into use. I am organizing and balancing myself. Balancing myself between fun and work, as "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".  I am using my time wisely to get everything done, in a quality that I am proud of, and being able to do the hobbies that I love to do.

The little things are what make people successful. The things that one would usually overlook. People usually try to "invent" new things when the old system isn't working, and that will eventually add and create another problem. One has to be able to see the defaults in both the system and in themselves. My volleyball teacher once told me, "Don't compare yourself to someone's weaknesses, but learn from their strengths". Ever since I can remember I've had practically the same weaknesses, and I feel that each and every day I am growing a bit out of them. Some day these weaknesses will go away, but then again a new one will appear. My eyes are always open so being aware of them is one step closer to destroying them.

A goal I've had in mind for a long time was becoming more of a leader. I have my opinions, stick and fight for them when needed, but my shyness holds me back. I want to have the ability to express my opinions and not worry about what others think about it. I want to be confident in myself.

I need to get out of my comfort zone to be able to fail, to be able to learn from my mistakes. I am pushing myself to talk more, to get out of my little circle and see what others see.

My dad always told me that if I don't try, if I don't push myself in whatever I am doing, I won't ever get anywhere. Nothing will come easy, and ever since that I have been pushing myself. But not pushing myself to all I can do. I slack when I get tired, I procrastinate, though that is getting significantly better, and I don't push myself to all my potential. That is something I plan on improving, improving so that I will be proud of myself knowing I did all that I could, even if I fail, for failing is a part of life. The hard part is to get back up, and if one can do that then they would prove to be stronger than those who fear it. 

I am going to push myself, I am going to learn new things, but not be egotistic, I am going to leave my weaknesses behind, and I am going to be a leader. That will not only help me in my academic years, but hopefully in my life. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


"Why was communication essential to understanding among the children of Promises?"

Promises, a film that shows two sides of a conflict, the Intifada's for one, in the Middle East: Israel and Palestine. It is children's view on the war that only adults seem to have a say in. They live in a place of war and conflict and they have a say in that too. They are naive and innocent, and believe that the horrors of the war can be fixed, someday. As they are not taken in the adult world yet, their opinions are not exactly like that of their parents. They believe in the good of people, and that if one is shown another's lifestyle they would not immediately judge them. 

The kids were able to gain a better perspective in life, and the war going around them. Despite living just 20 minutes from each other, these children have very different opinions on the land, and religion. 

Yarko and Daniel, grandsons of a Holocaust survivor, are secular Israelis. They live in east Jerusalem. Their religious beliefs are more inclined towards Judaism, but they do not belief in the extremity of Orthodox Judaism. They are open to seeing the other side, Palestine, and believe that neither side is right, nor wrong. They fear of going into the Israel army, but know they must, for it goes against many of their beliefs. 

Shlomo, an Israeli Orthodox Jew, lives in West Jerusalem, the Jewish quarter of the Old City. He, like any other Orthodox Jew living in that area, believe that it is Judaism's rightful ownership of the "Holy City". He says he has no problems with Palestiniens, but refuses to get in contact with them, mainly due to the influence of his religion and history.

Moishe, the last Jewish kid in the documentary has a very strong opinions on the matter of whose land is whose. Living in Beit El, he hopes to become Israel's first religious commander in chief.  He, as stated in the Torah, that it is their promised land, believes it is the Jewish right to live there. He still has a grudge against Arab's ever since the death, or murder, of his friend, so when he becomes Prime Minister he will clear the land of all Arabs. 

Faraj, a Palestinian Muslim lives in the Deheishe Refugee camp ever since his ancestor's ban from Jerusalem. He like Moishe holds a grudge against the Jews for the death of his friend. This caused him to see all Isralie's the same way, as murderes. Along with this he also knows that many look at him and believe he is a terrorist. 

Sanabel, living where Faraj lives, has different views than him. She believes that people can change, and that a child is not old enough to judge one another, knowing they can help the situation when they get older. Her father has been in jail for year's, merely for the fact of being a Palestinian Muslim, and yet she believes that the two people can live in peace.  

Mahmoud, the youngest of the pact has very strong opinions of the other religion and people. He lives in East Jerusalem, son of a wealthy merchant. He is in a way frightened by the Jews, but also hates them. He is disgusted and amused at how they believe that they can just control them like that. 

Even just being simply children, these kids notice what is going around them and form both their own opinions, and take in the ones that are put their for them.

Communication is important in every day life. It helps people better understand someone else's point of view. It helps them understand the reason people do what they do, and therefore gain a better perspective on life. In the movie Promises, communication allowed the children with different opinions on the matter discover the reason why the other side does as it does. It allowed them to see that not everyone of the opposite religion is vile. They were able to gain more information of their "enemies", allowing them to not be so hateful towards the one's that their parents have been at war for decades. 

Through this communication and contact, the kids were able to understand the other side of the matter, and actually be friends. When B.Z., the film director, asked Yarko and Daniel if they would like to meet with some Arabs; Faraj, Sanabel and some others, they agreed, much to the dislike of Faraj. Sanabel encouraged them to meet, as children should be exposed to these matters, and as their brains have not formed completely it would allow them to see the good in the people, not what everyone else tells them to see. They would be able to form their own opinions, and as they grow up they would have that feeling they had with their friends. They would be able to fight, or maybe just state their opinions to the higher authority giving something to think about. These children did indeed become friends, and although all of their differences, they played as normal kids would: playing soccer and laughing. 

Four years later and a sequel was made to this film. It showed the kids when they were in their young adulthood. Their lifestyles moved drastically, in some cases, to what they believed would have when they were younger. Mahmoud stated that would never speak to Jews, much less come into contact with them. Going from being frightened of them, to understanding, though not truly agreeing with them. They could not remain friends, and as many separated and went their own ways it seemed as what had occured had not really happened. Yarko and Daniel entered the Isreali army, as was expected, and their views changed. It's as if they disregarded all of their previous opinions, and where made to think and do as the country said. They had not their own opinions, but the one the country established. Of course he would be willing to meet his once friends, Faraj and Sanabel, but his being in the army was just not right. As everyone grows their opinions change, and their once pure mind to believe that everyone is the same also changes. They tend to go towards the ideas that their government throws at them. Through communication at least they were able to maintain a not so strong dislike or prejudice against the others. They were able to learn a bit from the other culture and see that they are humans as well. 

In this interview, the film directors go more in depth on everything, or almost, that caused the movie.

A "assumptions are the termites relationships"(Henry Winkler). How can one assume that one is that way, without having had shared even one word? As the famous phrase, "don't judge a book by its cover"; do not judge someone by how you believe they are. You can find yourself utterly mistaken, and miss out on a lot of information. 

Can peace ever be reached? It is a hard reach, but who knows that in the many years to come they will finally have a meaning communication, and see that this war should not have happened at all. 

"When you take the time to acutally listen, with humility, to what people have to say, it's amazing hwat you can learn. Especially if the people who are doing the talking also happen to be children." 
Greg MortensonStones Into Schools: Promoting Peace With Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Monday, April 8, 2013

Can Racism Be Converted Into Tolerance and Respect?

To first be able to understand how someone can go from being an extreme racist to one with tolerance and respect we first have to understand what is racism. Racism is the belief that human races have distinctive characteristics, which determine their cultures, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule, or dominate others. Offensive or aggressive behavior to members of another race can come from such a belief.

Many events can cause a person to become a racist. Stereotypes (when someone grows up in a life that has stereotypes against other races), unfamiliarity (not coming in contact with other races which causes them to be racist against that other group), selfishness (not respecting others and only caring about yourself), environmental factors (where you come from and how the people of your community treat other races), fear (when someone encounters someone they don't know and start imagining terrible things about them), superiority or inferiority (feeling their race is "superior" to others) are just some of the most common causes that cause a person to become a racist.  

As mentioned before people generally turn to be racists due to ignorance and lack of “contact” with the other race. In the film, American History X, Derek served his time in prison where he had to work with Lamont (an African American) and in the beginning he didn’t want anything to do with a black guy. There was this gang of Neo-Nazis like him so he went straight to them because they believed the same things and were of the same race.  Still maintaining contact with Lamont he realized that not all black people are bad or any less than white people.  He recognized that Lamont shared many similar ideas as him. Maintaining contact with him, the Neo-Nazi gang he used to hang out with didn’t really approve of what he was doing so as revenge they gang-raped him in the shower. With all of these events occurring, Derek’s mind was already forming some-what to realize that it isn’t right to hate another race when they are not all that bad, and if they are than they aren’t very different than your own race. The thing that really got Derek to his senses was when Mr. Sweeny came over to the jail right after Derek got raped. He told Derek many important things but the main question was “has anything you've done made your life better?” Has killing those two black men in front of his house done anything that would help him in life? Has anything that any racist done made their life better? Do they feel like they won? Also the environment they live in can affect racism. If one parent is always talking about how one race is so lazy or isn't good enough, then that will influence the children as they look up to their parents as role models

So how can someone move from a position of hate and racism to a position of tolerance and respect?  Coming in contact with the other race can allow the person to realize that they aren’t so different after all. Just a little conversation can allow the one person to acknowledge that there is no reason to discriminate someone (a race) if it is only based on one incident that may have cause that anger to rise.  Another reason that can change their minds was if another racist put them down. It could be something not so extreme as a name-calling or it could go all the way to be physically attacked, as was Derek.  

Racism as it can be created over time can also be destroyed. With that the person has to realize that his actions against another race aren't correct and how to grow out of it. With help from others, even if it means the other race, any racist will be able to get out of his/her narrow mind and treat everyone as equal. 

"No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them"
-Ellie Wiesel

This article shows that racism can stop for one race but rasicts will always find another one to blame. 
In this short little article the author states that racism may never disappear but we have to make sure it decreases rather than flow. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Seattle Boycott

The Seattle Boycott was a major event in the U.S. that just recently happened. It was a boycott against the MAP or any standardized test given in school. Teachers in Garfield High School are protesting against giving the MAP test because they think that it doesn't really effectively show the student growth over time. The argument is that the students don’t learn most of the material that is given on the test, so it then results in being a waste of time.

Teachers don’t disagree though with the idea of giving tests and other forms to show student growth, they just believe that standardized tests don’t help at all. They want assessments that are related to what they are teaching and show what they have learned over time.   

“Many others, myself included, believe that portfolios, which collect student work and demonstrate yearlong student growth, would be a good replacement for the MAP. Such assessments would be directly tied to our curriculum and would demonstrate improvement over time rather than a random snapshot of a student on one particular day.”

Teachers aren’t alone in trying to get their point across though; parents and students also joined in to get their opinions out. Usually when a boycott of this strength occurs parents usually don’t get involved. It’s always the teachers trying to get their point through.

For me this boycott actually makes complete sense. A standardized test can take up from 1-3 hours, maybe even more, which cuts off a good portion of class time. It wouldn’t be a problem if the time token to take those tests were to be used to take something relevant to what the students are learning in class, but these assessments don’t even do that. Instead of staying in class and actually learn something useful, the students are in front of a computer for hours not even paying attention to what is being done. While in class a couple days ago my teacher asked the class if somebody liked the MAP test I was expecting nobody to raise their hand. I was shocked that someone actually did. The teacher then asked why she liked and she said “ I like it because I don’t have to do anything”, basically implying that she doesn’t take it seriously and just guesses on everything to finish fast and play on the iPad.  After watching this video here, I can tell that the majority of the people who actually take this assessment don’t even care about it. 
So why take a test as long as the MAP, when kids don’t even bother to get anything out of it?

Another good point that was made was that these tests don’t allow students to use creative thinking. If all year the teachers are only focused in teaching the students what is going to fall on the assessment, then the students won’t be able to think out- side the box when they are needed to. Recently having watched this video about how schools in some ways kill the child’s creativity, I had been wondering if all these tests don’t already take away some of it.  If you are only allowed practically to think of the same type questions that have only one answer then how are you supposed to think of something that has many various answers that you won’t be able to have everything planned out. When the students get a job that makes them think in many different perspectives, how are they going to do it if in school they were taught the same things that only would work for standardized tests?

I watched the video, here, that Sir Ken Robinson made about if schools kill creativity. He makes a statement that everyone is born creative but the problem is to remain an artist (creative) as we grow up. We don't grow into creativity but we grow out of it by getting educated. With all the testing it actually makes sense. 
“Our kids will need both traditional academic abilities and innovative critical-thinking skills to solve these real problems. If we inundate our students with standardized testing year-round, these larger lessons are lost.”

In my opinion standardized testing doesn't really show the students growth as properly as it is supposed to. As that video shows students learn differently so it isn't really fair that if one student learns and works slowly then on the timed assessment it won't really show what he has learned that year properly because of the time restraint.  The standardized test is made all the same way so it doesn't show properly the strengths and weakness of the student. It doesn't measure properly the students intelligence, therefore making it a complete waste of time. A better way to show this was allowing the student to create a portfolio or something that is unique to that student so therefore each student can "win" or actually show what they are capable of. 

This picture is a perfect example because of course the elephant aren't going to be able to not because they are "dumb" but because it isn't what their strengths are. If you give a test that only the fish might have a chance like swimming than the others won't be able to show their strengths. To be measured properly what each one is good at then you have to give each one a different assessment and compare it to the one they took early to see if they really did grow or improve. The assessment has to be unique to each one so it can actually be accurate and fair. 

In conclusion standardized testings don't serve the purpose they are supposed to. Student growth can be shown through one test because of many factors so therefore instead of learning something valuable they are "wasting" their time on something that doesn't work out. If I went to Garfield High School I would completely agree with the boycott. This boycott has grabbed the attention of many people around the world including me here in Brazil and has helped many schools see what these standardized tests really are and how they affect the ones taking it. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Obama's Re-Election

I have been for Obama ever since the beginning and the couple of days before when they were counting up the states that would go Republican or Democratic I kept thinking "please U.S. vote for Obama". I knew that they wouldn't hear me I still had my hopes.

Obama has done a very good president for the past 4 years. He had to fix a country that was breaking and he did his best, which is actually a lot for only 4 years in office. Well now that I am not in the U.S anymore and considered kind- of international my view of the U.S and the president has changed. The U.S is the boss of the world and now I have to think about what Obama and the U.S will do to the place I live, Brazil.

I know the president has a lot of things on his mind and privileges and I don’t really think he will do anything to help Brazil, but I know he will influence the whole world in a good way which in a way will end up affecting us. I think that Obama will have an impact on the world. He knows that he has a lot of work to do in the Middle East. For example in this quote that the French President Francois Hollande stated, "Your re-election is a clear choice in favor of an America that is open, unified, completely engaged in the international scene and conscious of the challenges facing our planet: peace, the economy and the environment." 

Obama's re-election in the United States has created strong feelings — from optimism to skepticism — around the world. Many countries believe that Obama would be a very good president not only for the U.S but also for the whole world, and I really do believe that to.  

This article here has international views on Barack Obama's re-election.