Pottery (CAS Reflection 1)

LO2: Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process.

Despite being a very new experience for me, and my lack of previous experience with it, I have very much enjoyed the new challenges presented to me within pottery. In our first class, we went over the basics for producing a pinch pot and working with clay (when to use water, when to use slip, how clay is dried, glazed, and fired, etc.), and, after that short introduction, we were allowed to work freely with clay (though only by hand, not using wheels). I was initially overwhelmed by the amount of freedom present within making anything out of clay, but I soon found that actually making things I was satisfied with was much more difficult. I decided I wanted to make something that I, personally, would have appreciated more than a pot; I decided to make a bunch of little clay animals (whales, elephants, turtles, etc.). Obviously, the craftsmanship was shoddy, and the end product was quite lumpy, but I nonetheless enjoyed the challenge of making something I truly enjoyed over producing a pot that I invariably would not have used.

Planning for HL English Essay

Text Preference: Atonement by Ian McEwan

Ideas for Lines of Inquiry:

To what extent does Briony occupy an antagonistic role in Atonement? [A]

How does perspective influence the reader’s experience in Atonement? [B]

Plans;

[A] Introduction: Subjectivity of the work, establishment of metafiction that actively attempts to deceive and lie to the reader.

Part 1: Briony’s introduction as an unreliable

Reflections on Poems

In analysing poems including PlayroomScript for Child Services, and Microaggression Bingo, I think I got a glimpse into a deeply troubled life, faced by the author in a home (America) that she simultaneously belongs to and is estranged by. The cultural incongruence between a Pakistani heritage and and the American world, combined with poems chronicling her sexual awakening and clumsy stabs at adulthood, created an interesting conflict that sparked questions regarding maturity, sexuality, culture, and privilege. Playroom, the crucible of most of our analysis, was enjoyable in its aggressive tone and flippantly sexual overtones, especially in the crude juxtaposition between children’s toys (Barbies and Beanie Babies) and the sexual acts that the author’s prepubescent self force them to conduct sparked some pretty interesting debate in our class.

Glopo Engagement Activity 2; Interview

For my second engagement, building on the school survey that I undertook earlier, I was able to arrange an interview with an associate researcher at the IPS (Institute of Policy Study) think tank, to help me get an academic’s perspective on the controversy surrounding the CMIO policy. Frankly, this engagement was far, far more difficult to arrange than the previous survey. I was turned down by 4 different academics from various different universities, ranging from SUSS to the sociology department of NUS. The justification provided for the abrupt declining of my offer was due to the questions being “sensitive in the political climate of coming elections”. I understand the trepidation that an academic might have in accepting an interview on such a sensitive topic, but I did not expect to be rejected as many times as I was. Nonetheless, despite the aforementioned setbacks and failed attempts, reaching out to the IPS was a good choice, as, ideally, an independent think-tank focused on objectively analysing public policy in Singapore would have been able to provide strong, unbiased answers to my questions. After some correspondence with one person at IPS, he eventually linked me to one of his colleagues, the man I interviewed for this engagement. Preceding the interview (which was done online, via Google Meets, and was recorded on my computer using Quicktime Player), I had a brief correspondence with him, sending the questions I would ask in the interview to verify that he was comfortable answering them (which he was). The interview itself went very smoothly; he was a very approachable and friendly person, and was clearly very knowledgeable on the CMIO policy and its applications. His concise answers forced me to reevaluate the necessity of the CMIO policy, and made me realise that, all this time, I had been analysing it from a very foreign perspective; one that viewed any sort of racial system or policy as inherently negative. The interview not only provided a very strong engagement, but also allowed me to widen my understanding a gain a valuable new perspective to use in my essay.

Glopo Engagement Activity: Personal Motivation

My Global Politics EA is, in truth, not my original plan; initially, I wanted to investigate the impacts and policies regarding the refugee crisis, and refugee management, in Italy. However, given that the COVID-19 situation has rendered an engagement activity in Italy an impossibility, I believe that my chosen engagement topic, that is, the CMIO (Chinese, Malay, Indian, Other) policy in Singapore, follows a very similar theme, and dips into many similar topics, as the refugee crisis. Both topics deal with the concepts of social integration, trans-ethnic harmony, and coexistence (though these elements are far more pronounced within my original idea of the refugee crisis, given that the refugees, and the countries they are immigrating to [in my case, Italy], have much less in common than the ethnicities of Singapore, united under a Singaporean national Identity). Because of this, while I was not able to pursue my chosen topic in Italy, I will be able to study a topic that is similar, though perhaps not as immediately salient, as the refugee crisis, here in Singapore. Furthermore, both topics regard matters of public policy and its impacts in facilitating and promoting ethnic harmony; for my Italian engagement, I wanted to meet with the city of Milan’s primary assessor of social policies regarding management and integration of refugees, and work at a refugee camp, to gain a firsthand perspective into the effects of said policies. Similarly, in Singapore, I hope, within my engagements, to gain a strong foundation, and a good perspective, on the effectiveness of efforts to promote racial harmony and strengthen the Singaporean national identity within the CMIO policy, as well as analysing the nature of many criticisms levelled against the policy.

Tension in “Atonement”, Chapters 1-2

Extract (pg. 11-12):
Briony knew he had a point. This was precisely why she loved plays, or hers at least; everyone would adore her. Looking at the boys, under whose chairs water was pooling before spilling between the floorboard cracks, she knew they could never understand her ambition. Forgiveness softened her tone.

‘Do you think Shakespeare was just showing off?’

Pierrot glanced across his sister’s lap towards Jackson. This warlike name was faintly familiar, with its whiff of school and adult certainty, but the twins found their courage in each other.”

Within the extract, Ian McEwan uses purposely melodramatic terms to not only indicate Briony’s passion for the performance of The Trials of Arabella, but also to construct tension in the scene, perhaps foreshadowing some future calamity occurring in the play’s performance. The vast, sweeping statements made by Briony (e.g “Everyone would adore her“) reflects not only her childlike naïveté, but also her expectations for the play, especially seeing its auspicious performance would coincide with the return home of her brother, Leon. Indeed, her position as playwright appears to gift her with something of a messianic complex regarding her cousins; she resigns herself to the fact they “could never understand her ambition“, and allows the virtue of forgiveness to soften her tone towards her cousins; her expectations are high as ever, despite her appearing to calm down towards her cousins. Additionally, the description of Jackson’s name as “warlike” (though apt) further emphasises the tension of the scene; Briony’s paranoia regarding her cousin’s performance of her play causes her to analyse even superfluous aspects of her cousins (e.g their names).

Boxing (Cas Reflection 3)

LO4: What impact did my commitment or lack thereof have on the success of this activity?

Despite the circuit breaker’s announcement meaning that I will not be able to practise boxing in the environment that I could before, I still feel the fact that I was able to commit to it for ~3 seasons has had a profound impact on me even outside of the activity itself. For instance, despite the circuit breaker, I find that I am more motivated to stay active and practise exercise, whether that be some at-home workouts or going out for a run. I can attribute a large part of this new motivation to boxing; despite it being, more often than not, something I did not feel that motivated to attend, the fact that I continued to do so meant that I entered a routine that added an active element to my school week, week-in, week-out. Even outside of this routine, with the circuit breaker, I feel the necessity for some form of physical exercise; boxing has put my in a mindset where I should be healthy, and I feel happier and more satisfied as a result.