Mob Mentality

The world in present day 2016 is at an age of mass consumption. With mass consumption comes a mob mentality known as public opinion. Figures, such as celebrities, have massive influence over the general public opinion, determining what is popular and what is not.  It is hard to influence people with the mob mentality to change their minds on subjects, especially since their opinions are based on very strong and intense emotions. Reason is not often the determining factor in manipulating public opinions.  Continue reading

I’m “Educated”

“Cha-ching!” goes the cash register as bills and coins are transferred between the two parties. Change is carefully counted out and handed over and is double checked by the receiver. The hum of the printer kicks in and the receipt prints out. The two parties exchange farewells and move on with their lives. The process of depositing money is somewhat of a mundane, mindless task; no critical thinking is involved. Education is heading in the same direction. As unfortunate as it is, students learn through a process that is quite akin to the way one deposits money.

As Paulo Freire said in “The ‘Banking’ Concept of Education”:

Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat.

Educational knowledge is just deposits of facts given by a teacher, as stated in the quote above. Mindless facts are pounded into student’s minds as they learn to recite those facts by rote without really learning anything, save for memorization, in the process. These facts, such as how many planets are in the solar system, or how the mitochondria produces ATP and is considered the “powerhouse” of the cell, do not lead to critical thinking and discussion rather they are meant as bits to be learned in the case that the person learning will end up on jeopardy one day. Most of the facts taught in school are not directly applicable to post-secondary life, and if they do not allow for further discussion, we have to ask why we are being taught this way.

Rarely in school is there the opportunity for students to voice his or her opinion on a subject and debate it with others; this is not only a crucial part of learning, but it is also a fun exercise that engages students into certain events/ideas. Things, like the political system of the United States, the country in which I live, is not stressed as important as learning that ‘Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1642’. Discussion is a great way to see both sides of the story or event and it allows the chance for an individual to expand his or her perception and learn from his or her peers.

Bottom line, we as a society need to engage in more critical thinking activities and put an end to the mindless recitation of ‘facts’ that do nothing for the betterment of our educations. Engage in debate, engage in learning.

Intelligence is a Beautiful Thing

“What is Intelligence, Anyway?” is a short piece by Issac Asimov that focuses on intelligence and the different perceptions that surround it . For Asimov, he described himself as a very well educated person, who always scored high on aptitude tests. Asimov reflects on what it truly means to be intelligent as he describes his auto-repair man and how he was not as book-smart as Asimov himself was, but he had an incredible intelligence about cars that far surpassed Asimov’s intelligence in that subject.

Intelligence is all subjective. There is a quote I thought of while reading that is often attributed to Einstein, however the actual source of the quote has been disputed by many:

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

Just because an individual does not know much about certain subjects like science, reading, or math does not make that individual stupid. I consider myself to be a fairly well educated person, with a varying knowledge on a variety of different topics, yet even a lesser educated person could outsmart me in certain areas. Like Asimov, I know very little about car mechanics, and if I had to fix my own car, my car would never get fixed properly. Even those considered brilliant in our society, such as rocket scientists, could have a hard time learning how to play the guitar.

Ultimately, this distribution of intelligence is what allows humans to have an intelligent, well-functioning society. Since not everybody is an expert in everything, we have people specialize in certain areas, and then we have these people come together to form a society. It is similar to puzzle pieces snapping into place; there is a place for everybody with all the varying degrees of intelligence. This is why society can have barbers, auto-mechanics, realtors, accountants, teachers, nurses, and police officers; each of the people in those occupations possesses a knowledge that none of the others do.

Every person has their own story to tell and their own intelligence to share. My mother always used to tell me as a child that I would always learn something from others because everybody knows one thing I do not, with the same going for me (I know one thing others do not). It is important to recognize that although an individual does not pass a standardized intelligence test, that individual still has intelligence to spread to others.

Overcoming Discrimination

Through reading “Indian Education, I learned the hardships that Sherman Alexie faced due to the fact that he was a Native American. Alexie starts his story in the first grade, where he went to school with other natives on the reservation. Alexie begins by stating that everyone always made fun of him, even the other Native American boys. What I found especially interesting is that even in other cultures, and within minority groups, some of the kids can still be so cruel to one another, despite the fact that they are usually all they have to rely on.

Another disheartening part to Alexie’s story was the way his second grade teacher treated him. His teacher, Betty Towle, was unnecessarily unjust to Alexie, making him miss fourteen days of recess whilst making him apologize for being Indian, all while he had to hold books on his outstretched arms for fifteen minutes. Towle was very cruel to Alexie, and often singled him out, discriminating him for something he had no control over. Not only did Alexie have to deal with children bullies at his school, but his teacher was one of the biggest bullies of all. It was incredibly saddening to heart that Towle not only singled Alexie out with the spelling test and forced him to do a junior high level test, but she made him eat the test because he got all of the answers correct.

Alexie’s story does not get much brighter. After being told that he would make a good doctor and played basketball for the first time, he transferred to a white school for the eight grade. The kids at his new school singled him out just like the Native American kids did in the first grade. No matter what Alexie seemed to do, he just could not escape the torment that came from everyone, including the Chicano teacher:

‘Hey,’ he said. ‘What’s that boy been drinking? I know all about these Indian kids. They start drinking real young.’

Sharing dark skin doesn’t necessarily make two men brothers.

Despite having an alcoholic father, a depressed mother, and a constant threat of torment from schoolmates and teachers alike, Alexie managed to graduate from his white high school as the valedictorian, showing that no matter one’s race or culture, he or she could still be smart and well educated. Alexie tells that back home on the reservation, many of the students barely graduated, some not being able to read while others merely received an attendance diploma. Alexie really states the difference between him and them by the juxtaposition between the lines:

I try to remain stoic for the photographers as I look toward the future…

They smile for the photographer as they look back toward tradition.

The Outcast

“How to Tame A Wild Tongue” details the story of a girl growing up in the United States with one major difference- she did not speak very good English, as she came from Mexico. The problem? She did not speak very good Spanish either. The author talks about how outcasted she became because of the language difficulties she faced. I can relate to the difficulties of learning a new language and getting words mixed up and “butchering” the language as I took French all through high school. However, that does not mean the article was free from fault.

… while I still have to speak English or Spanish when I would rather speak Spanglish, and as long as I have to accommodate the English speakers rather than having them accommodate me, my tongue will be illegitimate.

This is the part of the article that I most strongly disagreed with. Moving to a country where “x” is the language that is most commonly spoken and expecting everyone to conform to you and learn language “y” instead of you learning language “x” is extremely egocentric. Instead of putting forth effort to conform to the country’s language standards, she’d rather have everybody else put forth effort instead. Learning and speaking a second language does not delegitimize the first language, but allows to help understand the people of the second language and allows for more efficient communication. If I spoke Mandarin and moved to Mexico, no one there would accommodate me and learn Mandarin because I did not want to learn Spanish.

Adapting is part of what makes us human. Instead of looking at adapting to another culture is a loss of the previous culture, we should see it as the expansion of our own cultures. Instead of using the English to replace the Spanish, use both Spanish and English interchangeably. The exploration of different cultures is a truly remarkable experience, something that learning the language really helps. Learning new cultures is not the replacement of a culture, but the expansion of the culture. We should not get upset when we immerse ourselves into another culture and do not learn everything right away; that is the beauty of new cultures- they are constantly expanding.

There will always be different dialects of the same language no matter what language one speaks. Even for English, the variety of the language is astounding. The ways Americans speak English is different from the way the Brits speak English, which is still different from the English that Australians speak. These regional differences are what makes each culture unique, which is a beautiful thing.

Powerful PSAs

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Everyday people do ordinary things that are fraught with danger: riding a bicycle, driving a car, eating a steak. All are things that have the potential to seriously harm the individual. Some of those activities are why it is so important to keep the public informed about how to keep safe while doing those activities. That is where public service announcements, or PSAs, come into play; whether it is driving distractedly, child abuse, body images, or drunk driving, PSAs have a profound impact on the viewers they are broadcasted to. Public service announcements are responsible for informing the viewers about the dangers associated with certain activities and the consequences involved in engaging in that activity.

Shown in the first image is a couple driving in a car. On the left side, in the driver’s seat, is a young male distracted by his phone; on the right side, in the passenger’s seat, is a young female distracted by a map and the male. In the rearview mirror, the couple’s daughter is shown looking out the windshield window where the couple has hit a young boy. Bold white and red text proclaims: “Think of both sides”. This image was especially appealing because of the pathos involved with the image. The PSA really invokes emotion from the audience. The audience is comprised of motorists, especially parents of young children. The message of this PSA is clear: parents would not want his or her child being hit by other distracted drivers. The darkness of the image evokes the sadness from the audience as they feel helpless as they see a young boy about to be run over. Text at the bottom of the image reveals that the number of accidents increase during the holidays, implying that drivers should take extra precautions during that time. Though the text is not necessary, it adds to the pathos of the dark image, which contributes to the somber tone of the picture.

The second image is of a young boy with a black eye. Only the young boy’s face is visible against a black background. The text, “He has his mother’s eyes” is visible across the boy’s face. The audience for this still image is abuse survivors and parents of young children. This image is especially interesting because of how it portrays not only the child abuse victim, but also with how it implies that his mother is a victim of abuse as well. This image uses dark images and pathos to evoke the viewer to feel sympathetic towards the boy depicted in the public service announcement. This is one example of a PSA where both the image and the text are of equal importance, but convey different messages. Abuse is never right, especially when done to women and children, is what the image is portraying. Without the text present in the image, the PSA would only achieve the goal of informing others about child abuse, however there would be no context as for how the boy was abuse or why it is important.

The third image shows a sketch of a skinny woman with long legs wearing a black dress on the left with the human representation of what that sketch would look like on the right. The text says, “You are not a sketch. Say no to anorexia.” The image is targeted primarily to young girls who starve themselves so they can be model thin. The PSA uses logic and real scary imagery to show how sketches and drawings of women are in no way representative of real women, and it tries to persuade women to accept themselves as they are. The text for this image is not as necessary as some, as the message is conveyed, though not as clearly, through the use of the visual. This PSA differs from the others with the fact that it is very bright, uses cream colors and a handwritten font. This design is purposeful, as it gives the appearance of a sketchbook that someone wrote it to offer advice to others. This choice allows the PSA to become more personal to the audience, as they will be more likely to relate to the image.

The fourth image is a picture of two beer cans from a top-down perspective. On the first can the image of a young boy riding his bike is seen as the can is closed. On the right side of the image the can is open and the boy has vanished. Text appears above both cans in Spanish, but is translated to “Now you see me, now you don’t”. The audience of the public service announcement is beer drinkers, especially those beer drinkers who drive. The impact of the PSA is to show drinkers that drinking can severely impact one’s judgement and even cause the drinker to not see certain very important things. Though the image has text, it is not needed to understand the impact of the image. The creator of the image was Fiat, a popular European car company, which lends to the ethos of the image that already contains a great deal of pathos. The logic applied to the argument Fiat is trying to make is that driving impairs judgement, something that many people commonly know.

While the images may seem completely different on the surface, they all serve one purpose, and that is to keep the public safe from everyday dangers. Some images do that with dark colors and somber moods, others do it brightly, with pictures that the audience can relate to. Overall, these pictures do fantastic jobs at informing the public about the dangers of some of the acts depicted, as well as showing the costly consequences of those actions. Distracted driving is never right, so the first image is very just in depicting such a harsh scene to really show people what happens when they become distracted by cellular devices. The last image goes along with the first, contrasting distracted driving with drunk driving, both images, however, get the same result. If one is not focused while driving, someone else could lose his or her life. Abuse is just as bad, and can cause more damage to a person than being struck by a vehicle, as the effects of abuse are not only physical, but emotional and psychological as well. Eating disorders are not something to take lightly, as they are as much of a problem as depression is. Public service announcements achieve their goals of spurring some to action and preventing others from taking action.

 

Source for images: http://digitalsynopsis.com/inspiration/60-public-service-announcements-social-issue-ads/

The Beauty of Being Undistracted

 

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From the moment I opened up the distraction free writing tool, I knew I was going to like it. Gone was the clutter of other writing tools, such as Microsoft Word, and in the place was the minimalistic ZenPen. Much like the old fashioned handwriting, the distraction free writing tool does not allow for many altercations, and in that way it felt nostalgic.   Continue reading