Today I decided that I wanted to start writing my extended essay to try and get a feel for how it would flow from the beginning. I learned more about the specific requirements I need to meet for my World Studies essay as well as the fact that aside from it being an essay which explores a topic, it also brings forth a discussion of my topic on a level of global significance and that’s something I find really cool. I’m quite proud of my topic in general; empathy has always been an interesting concept to me and to be able to explore it makes me pretty excited. I’m proud of my start into writing this essay though, as I sometimes find it difficult to write in school without losing track. I’m going to continue writing and finish off my introduction and start writing one of my body paragraphs to meet the 1000 word deadline by 22nd May, but I’ll also try and research a little bit more for my body paragraphs. When researching, I went to find information to help me find the key points I was going to talk about for my essay so I had a sort of framework to go off of when writing, but I may need additional information along the way which I will have to find in between writing my essay.
For my World Studies topic, after having a conversation with my EE supervisor I learned that I need to narrow down exactly what my issue is. I’m interested in looking at racism in Singapore as well as the whole world and how this is related to empathy, then using biology and psychology to explore this and relate it to racism. I’ve always had a strong interest in psychology and recently also the biological aspect of it. Looking at a concept such as empathy is something I’ve wanted to do as even through my daily life I’ve noticed how different people’s empathy levels are and I’ve always wondered what the causes are. After my conversation, I began looking into different articles online as well as recounting my own observations from living in Singapore to narrow down to the issue of racism and to refine my EE outline to make it more specific.
“Gun laws are only part of the issue.”
In my opinion, guns are the action that stems from the prejudice of the extremist. Though banning guns can help reduce the amount of casualties and put an end to all these shootings, it does not stop the prejudice and discrimination. These views stem from the person’s own beliefs, and I personally believe that is the main issue. There is an evident lack of empathy towards our out-groups in this world, however some people take it to extremes and develop warped prejudicial propagandas against minorities. There’s so much hatred towards those who are in groups we do not identify with, and acts of pure hatred such as the Christchurch shootings only breed more hatred as we’ve seen with communities condemning the shooter. Yes, what he did was completely disgusting and unjust, but his one act of hatred has spread beyond the actual event.
Though in times like this, the world comes together to console and mourn, anger is also born and it may only result in more violence being spread. It’s a vicious cycle which transcends that of just gun laws. Even though I personally believe guns should be banned, we need to also look at the cognitive processing of these people and come to the root of the issue; why do we exclude and hate? How do we make people more understanding and empathetic? Whether this is something we can teach to younger generations or not, it is something we must strive towards. Only with true understanding can we come together and accept each other, putting aside meaningless wars and conflict that only result in hatred and death.
CAS Reflection: Activity
Culturama 2018 Ghana
- Show commitment to and perseverance in your CAS experiences.
After many weeks of preparation, the final week of performances arrived and I’m honestly really happy with the results. With all the practices and changes with formation and positioning, I believe that we were all able to give a great performance, and we all had so much fun while doing so too!
From watching the video back, I can already see a lot more confidence in the way I’m moving and I’m really glad about that. As I mentioned in my first reflection, I found it tricky to keep up with the rest of the other dancers as well as the fact that I got nervous frequently while dancing. I would say that by dedicating myself to running through the steps frequently with my friends helped me build up my confidence. Additionally, once I started becoming more comfortable with the moves, I began having a lot more fun at each practice session since I wasn’t as worried about making mistakes.
This in turn allowed me to become more comfortable with performing on stage, especially during our first dress rehearsal. During this rehearsal, we had to run through all the countries’ performances in front of the entire cast as we were all working on positioning and order/run throughs. Hearing the applause as well as the constructive criticism from those who weren’t a part of Ghana’s dance helped with building my confidence on stage to a point where I became unafraid of performing in front of large audiences. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed being near the front for one section of the dance whereas prior to this moment I was completely dreading the thought of being in front.
The entire experience of Culturama was tiring, yet incredible for me as it allowed me to work towards overcoming some of my weaknesses as well as letting me try out an activity which I’ve always admired and been curious about. Even though this experience doesn’t make me a dancer, I still have gained a much deeper appreciation for dancing than I thought I ever could by acknowledging the amount of preparation and how physically taxing it can be at times. Overall, I’m really glad I got the opportunity to take part this year and I’m even thinking of doing so next year if I’m able to make the time for it!
CAS Reflection: Activity
Culturama 2018 Ghana
- Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process.
Our school holds an annual dance spectacle for high schoolers to audition and take part in which revolves around the idea of showcasing different dances that represent different countries. It’s an effective way to show and celebrate the diversity in our school and dancers always have a lot of fun while doing so. This year was my first time auditioning and I auditioned for South Korea, Ghana, and Hawaii. I was incredibly nervous in doing so due to the obvious issue at hand being that I am in no way shape or form a dancer of any kind. In fact, this was my first time ever signing up for a school production.
Luckily, I managed to get accepted into Ghana so at the moment I’m currently attending the practice every Thursday lunchtime. As I don’t have any dance experience at all, my major challenge at the moment is learning all the steps. I seem to be unable to properly get the step down instantly just by watching it in front of me. Another issue aside from my lack of experience is that I also am shy/ have a slight stage fright issue which tends to impede my performance a little bit. I think most of it comes from not wanting to be judged, and by putting myself out on a stage to dance I’m practically asking for eyes to be on me.
As one can see from the video, I often messed up the steps, partially from nerves from being recorded and partially from not having really gotten the hang of them. With each session, I’m hoping to become more proficient in doing them as we practice more and more, and just to get a feel for it I’ve already begun practicing them at home (though I don’t have a mirror to judge for myself). Since a few of my friends are also in the same dance, it’s helping me assimilate into the environment as well as the fact that it helps me in becoming comfortable with performing in front of people.
I think overall though, I’m able to get the steps down with enough practice, but I need to become comfortable with any form of being watched. Aside from attempting to introduce myself to an activity that may potentially be really fun while helping me in improving my fitness through physical exertion, I would like to also improve my confidence in putting myself in front of a large audience and I think that this is a great way to do so.
CAS Reflection: Creativity
HS Arts Club
- Identifying strengths and develop areas for personal growth.
Since I chose to take two sciences for IB, I had to drop Visual Arts. I’ve been doing art as a hobby since I was very young, and I even took it as my art subject for my (I)GCSEs. Due to the fact that I had to choose double science over it this year, I still wanted to find a way to keep up with doing art because it’s still an activity that I find relaxing yet challenging. Therefore, I think that joining the high school Arts Club this year will allow me to do so.
As I’ve been involving myself in art for such a long time now, I tend to be comfortable with trying new mediums or working to try new things in the mediums I know how to work with. I tend to draw portraits mostly which doesn’t really give me much practice with other things that I could possibly draw. Another common painting style for me to do is to not play much with how the background colour affects the foreground objects, so I feel that by picking a specific sort of theme or aesthetic preference I can use that to try and make the piece look a little more put together. These were just points that I noticed after painting my first piece in the club which also served as a gift for a friend.
I do think that overall I have a handle on how to paint faces in a way that’s catered towards my own stylistic preference, yet as I mentioned before, there are several steps I feel as though I could take in order to improve my watercolour skills further.
For my second piece that I’m working from a photo. Though it does involve painting a portrait, it incorporates a rose in it. With that idea, I sketched several roses so this way I’ll get practice with painting something that isn’t a human face.This is just the beginning of the painting, and I decided to try mapping out the shading first with the colour that I want to portray as the main one (being pink because of the roses) which isn’t something I normally do. Usually I paint the base colours and then add shadows and tints, so I would like to see how this will cause the painting to turn out. This was actually my second attempt, as in the previous one I ended up messing up the shading on the shirt (which I haven’t done here). Clothing is probably another area which I need to work on, as I tend to put so much detail in the faces that the rest of the painting often doesn’t hold the same amount of detail (as seen in the prior photo of the first painting).
CAS Reflection: Service
Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA)
- Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process.
Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) is an organisation that provides equine therapy for those with disabilities, be in cognitive, physical, or sometimes even both. In our service, we work with young children who have disabilities such as cerebral palsy (CP), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), down syndrome, or those who display issues with the movement of/ control over certain body parts and motor skills. Our group is partnered up and then assigned one of these children and we have to assess their riding ability and how they’re improving as the weeks pass by. As of right now, all of us have taken the role as side walker regardless of whether any of us have had experiences with horses or not. We have to walk on the sides of the horse and interact with our rider to make sure they have proper posture and are able to follow commands said by the instructor efficiently.
The child that my friend and I were assigned is a young boy with ASD. When we first flicked through the paperwork to get a general consensus as to what he was like as a rider, I wasn’t too worried. I thought I had an idea of what autism was like so I didn’t anticipate that the sessions would be too stressful. Turns out, that idea wasn’t as clear as it should have been. Our first session with our rider seemed to be a little distressing, for both the child and myself honestly. Without the proper training or briefing on his condition, I wasn’t able to work well with him. This could be seen as he wouldn’t listen to me or my partner when we tried to help him sit straight while riding the horse (which is something he tends to not do as proficiently) or even when we were trying to help him with his stretches. He seemed to be slightly agitated as well which made it even more difficult to communicate effectively with him.
In between this session and the next, I knew that I had to learn how to work effectively with him in order for him to feel more at ease during each session. Since I take HL Psychology, I went to my teacher to ask her for a general summary of what the cognitive disability really was as well as how I could go about approaching the rider. I also looked up ASD online as well as talked to my mother (who studied child psychology in university) about my struggle. All of that put together led me to a better understanding as to why our rider seemed to be so on edge for our first session. I learned that people with autism tend to want to do things a certain way, and any little change can cause them to become agitated, which would explain why our rider was uncomfortable during our first session as he had never worked with us before. My psychology teacher told me to continue approaching him the same way so it becomes routine and it will, therefore, lead him to become more comfortable as each session goes by.
Using this advice, our next session ended up being a lot more fun for my partner and I as well as our rider. He was a lot calmer and he began listening to us a lot better. By the third session, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all established a good relationship as he always double checks with us to see if we’ll be there the following week and he seems so much more comfortable with us. He has also been able to keep his back straight for longer periods of time which is a major improvement from the beginning. I feel really proud of him as well as myself for being able to get through to him in such a short amount of time, but I do know that there’s still a lot more to do in that sense due to his ASD, but I’m really happy with the fact that we’ve been able to become comfortable with each other.
(His face has been blurred for privacy)
Maths and Me: Student Homework
Marushka Rout, 20/8/18
My name is Marushka and for the last two years I was doing the IGCSE Maths programme. Throughout the course, there were some difficulties for me- specifically with tests- but by the end of the course and right before the exam I felt as though I was proficient enough in each of the topic areas. Ever since I was young, I used to really like maths, although due to various experiences in the past I ended up developing a bit of a disdain towards the subject. Now, however, I’ve bounced back and I find myself enjoying maths a lot more once again. I’m a little nervous about the rigour of the IB Maths SL courses but if I work hard I know I’ll be able to accustom myself to the new topics we’ll cover.
In the past, I’ve realised that I tend to like teaching myself things, and not just in maths. I don’t mind asking for assistance if I need it but I only really do so if I can’t figure something out no matter what I try to do. Any time I was stuck in maths, I would do the rest of the questions and once it came to correcting, I’d look at the mark scheme as it shows ways of how to work out a question. In other cases, I either play around with it to see if I can figure it out spontaneously or I look it up in a textbook or online (often times it’s the latter). I feel like I only really ever ask for help from someone else such as a teacher as a last resort.
I think I would say one of my biggest strengths in mathematics is my diligence since it’s the reason I’ve been able to improve so much in my maths skills over the years, although I personally think that I could work a little more with confidence since I find myself at times slipping a little due to it. Either way, I think it’s something I’ll be able to overcome with time.
- What is the environment?
I think ‘the environment’ describes our surroundings as well as the earth in general. This includes natural habitats such as oceans and ocean life, forests and hills, and even cities and towns.
- Why are some environmental issues more attractive than others?
It could be due to the fact that some issues are damaging the environment at a much faster rate than the other issues which is why we choose to pay more attention to them.
- How do environmental attitudes vary and change? (Are we (humans) deliberatively destructive?)
I wouldn’t say that humans are intentionally destructive, however humans appear to have a tendency to want to improve their own lives and comfort and tend to forget or disregard the fact that in the process, the environment is getting damaged. It is only when issues start getting out of hand where we finally start to pay attention.
- Where do our environmental values come from (Do humans have the right to use the environment and other species for their own needs, as some faiths suggest?)
I think they can be taken from a variety of different sources, mostly depending on upbringing. Depending on what a person is taught when they are young, those beliefs are usually stuck with them. Such beliefs and values could be taken from role models or parent figures, or even the media or religion. I do think that humans have the right to use the environment and other species for their own needs, just like how other species need to use the environment and other species for survival. Although, we don’t seem to realize that we are causing damage until it begins to severely impact the earth’s lifespan and even then some people still choose to be ignorant to the issue.
- Are you an environmental activist? (What changes, modifications and adjustments are necessary for a turn-around to refocus our efforts on sustainable lifestyles?)
I don’t feel as though I am an environmental activist, as I honestly do tend to forget about the issues much like everyone else. Many environmental activists do find ways to communicate with the general public and list ways in which we can help slow down or even possibly end some of the issues that are causing harm to the environment such as ‘showers instead of baths’ and ‘using minimal electricity by turning off lights when you are not in the room’. Personally, however, I think that we are going to have to take bigger steps due to the graveness of the current situation.
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