Oral Practice Plan Feedback

General (Class) Feedback:

  1. Mentioning writers
  2. Genre-specific terms
  3. Cohesion – a developing line of argument

Specific Feedback

  1. Technical terms: Foil
  2. You maintain an insightful comparative approach here
  3. Focus on craft: Shamsie characterises Isma as…
  4.  So, maintain focus on writers to ensure your analysing their craft AND technical terms – these will be helpful prompts for your 10

Target: Maintain focus on writer to analyse craft and technical terms

Guiding Questions: Antigone and Home Fire

-In what ways does the author offer insights and challenges into religious and cultural practices?

-To what extent does the impact of the text shape our implicit perception of troubling world?

-How does understanding of context (social/political/historical/cultural) influence or shape our understanding of the text and its implications?

-How do elements of the contemporary novel shape our understanding of concepts within the text?

Wellbeing: Sleep

Sleep. The strange thing you have to do every night. A strange escape into the world of dreams perhaps if we were to be poetic. How much of it really am I getting? Quite frankly, I actually don’t know. I suppose if we were to do the Math, I get at least about 3 hours of nap time and 4 hours of night sleep. So, 7 hours give or take. Less on a bad day. More on a good day. That’s a lot better than last year where I used to get only about 3 hours of sleep consistently. The improvement has come at the cost of work time of course and I have had to do a bit of last minute weekend cramming to make up for it. 5 AM on Saturday. 5 AM. Overall though, it’s been a far more energetic year for me. I can actually function in the morning to the degree that I am overtly hyperactive even. It’s fun being so full of energy really. And keeping in mind that Heidi and Will called me “napper of the year” because I was so sleepy last year, that is AMAZING.

Also: a good breakfast does seem to help get through the day. It’s because I have hotdogs, wraps, pizza and other high energy foods for breakfast right? It does seem to contribute to that extra burst of energy I need for the start of the day.

My Language World

I was talking to Ms.Vaughan after school while waiting for one of the Middle School Socials to start when I caught myself pronouncing the Korean word 김치 as Kimchi. No matter how you look at it the Korean letter ㄱis pronounce “g” and not “k”. Everyone around me who wasn’t Korean pronounced it Kimchi though, and on that day I realized that while speaking English I’d started saying Kimchi too. That was probably the first time I really started thinking about how I speak. In the terms I’ve learned in English class. I suppose I would say that when speaking English I tend to speak Korean words in a way that is phonlogically English. That really got me thinking about what I now know is called my idiolect. How do I speak? Why do I speak that way?

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The first thing I should probably mention is that I love speaking in a high register (Note: When I say speaking. I mean speaking. Thanks to the influence that Skype chat has played in my life in writing I gravitate towards a lower register). Some of my friends have said that it’s strange how I rarely swear, and I really like to use big words and complicate phrases. It’s a verbal representation of the higher standard I aspire to become. To be more of a scholar, an academic, one committed to higher things. I’ve been accused of speaking with a hint of arrogance before, and I suppose it could be interpreted that way but that’s really not the point. The words I use aren’t meant to be a way to show that I am better than everyone else, but rather a mental reminder of what I aspire to become. When I speak with a higher register it is a reminder to self to aspire to aspire to rise higher in all things. Goal setting using words if you will. It’s because of how that high register can be interpreted as arrogant though that I generally tone it down in class, so that I am not speaking in a higher register than the teacher, because I don’t want to imply through my words that I have a higher status than them.

With friends I have notice I employ a high degree of code shifting.  I often do speak in a lower register in casual speech, but I tend to switch to a higher register quite often and frequently. A lot of the time when talking about politics, school subjects etc. but other times just for fun. For example I’ve made a habit of asking my “most honourable friends” to “remove phrases of a vulgar nature from their lexicon” (the third person was intentional) when I feel that a conversation is drifting too much into topics that are too…explicit for my comfort. This is partially a serious request. I do feel uncomfortable when a conversation gets too explicit, but it’s also a joke where the higher register itself is the joke. The sheer absurdity of using a high register to make a comment like that is what makes it funny. On a more serious note  I  tend to code shift  to a higher register when talking about subjects like Science, History, DT or English for example or when talking about politics. Those are areas with a lot of specific technical language, and I feel that a higher register better complements the jargon used.

The one place that I have found myself speaking in a high register the most is in GC. It really is the perfect environment for using a higher register. In class with teachers and all I find it wrong to speak in a way that implies a higher status than the teacher, among friends I can get away with a bit of formal speech here and there when talking about matters like politics, History, English etc. or as a joke, but too much would get awkward. In GC though it’s an environment where we discuss serious issues, but for the most part with very little teacher involvement. I’ve found that in that sort of environment I speak in a higher register than anywhere except MUN (where it’s artificial and mandated by the rules). I like to speak in a higher register anyways (because of the reasons outlined above), and Global Concerns meetings are an environment that supports that, but there’s an added factor of wanting to impress. It’s about status to a large degree. I want to seem smarter, more knowledgable, gain recognition among my peers. GCs are their own social group of sorts and the use of a higher register to me is a means of trying to gain recognition in this small community.

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As far as cultural background of my language goes I speak Korean at home, though English is by far the language I am more comfortable with. There was a time when I could speak both English and Korean equally as fluently. Korean was the language I spoke at home while English was the language I spoke at school, and I could speak both just as well. I suppose in a way that the fact that I am now far better at English shows how over the years school has become a far more important part of my life than home. I not only spend more time in school these days (infant school ends at 1:30 instead of 3:00, and I have more after school activities now), but school has increasingly become the place I am more emotionally invested in. It’s where all my friends are, and to a large degree it’s become the focal point of my life.

This change also reflects a shift in identity. I can no longer honestly say that I feel Korean in any meaningful way. Sure, that’s the country of which my passport is from, but beyond legality it really isn’t a country that has any real significance to me. The days when I could speak Korean as fluently as English were the days when I actually felt Korean. Now though I really don’t feel like I belong in any country anymore. Partially that shift in identity was what caused caused a decrease in my ability to speak Korean. Now that I no longer feel Korean I no longer place the same importance I once did on learning the language. However I also think that the decrease in my ability to speak Korean has also caused that shift in identity. It’s one less tie to my country of citizenship, and therefore one less reason to feel that I belong there. In that way I would say that my identity has both impacted my language, and been shaped by it.

Having English as my first language has also given me an identity in it’s own right. English in many ways is the international language. It is the language which unites everywhere from India to the UK. If you lived in Korea for example and you could only speak English I am pretty sure you would be able to make your way around to a certain degree (especially since these days a lot of parents in Korea are crazy about teaching their children English) whereas someone who could only speak Chinese, Thai, or German would probably struggle to communicate with anyone in the US or the UK. If I hadn’t learned English my life would have been very, very different. I wouldn’t have been able to come to UWCSEA, because I wouldn’t have been able to communicate with anyone there. In many ways it’s English that has opened that gateway through which has allowed me to experience a genuinely multicultural environment, and allowed me to communicate with so many people from all sorts of different cultures through this shared language. In that way English is the language that has shaped my identity by showing me that there’s more than just “my country” (I don’t even know what that means anymore), and “my culture”. Through English I have come to embrace a far more international identity. One based around not what I now see as arbitrary national boundaries, but instead the good of the entire world.

English is also the language that has shaped my political views. As can be inferred from my previous comments I have come to reject both nationalism and patriotism as obstructions to a more united world. A united world being what I wish for due to the international perspective given to me by being able to communicate with people from different cultures through this shared language of English. Also when it comes to political views there’s that added aspect that, because English is my first language, my politics have been far more influenced by the ideas of English speaking politicians such as those in the UK, US, and Singapore than those politicians in Korea (whom I can barely understand). It’s largely that since I can understand them better I spend more time listening to there ideas. This has caused my politics to be more influenced by the ideas and issues discussed in these English speaking countries than by whatever issue currently dominates Korean politics.

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There was a time when I kept adding “lah” to the end of my sentences. It was an unconscious influence from living in Singapore for so long. Then, one day one of my friends pointed out to me that “lah” was a very Singlish thing to say. From that day on I immediately stopped saying “lah” at the end of my sentences, and now I speak almost entirely in Standard English. I was young then, and didn’t truly understand all of this, but I do think that it was the implicit biases that had imprinted itself into my mind that influenced my reaction. When I heard that I spoke something that sounded Singlish my first response was horror. That really shows how even at that young age those ideas of prestige had already imprinted themselves into my mind without me even knowing it. Singlish just seems inherently not prestigious. It seems the language of commoners in a way. No one speaks it in a business meeting or in Parliament. You would never write a formal academic essay in Singlish. That just isn’t done. Singlish lacks any overt prestige.

Overt prestige is what comes with the language of the powerful. It’s the language that many politicians speak (to the best of my knowledge I’ve never seen anyone in the Singaporean Parliament speaking Singlish), the language of countries that are more powerful (Both historically and currently: British English is so prestigious to a large degree because of Britain’s past as a colonial power, American English is so prestigious because of the USA’s place as the most powerful country in the world today), and the language of education (Harvard, Oxford, Stamford, and Cambridge are all either in the USA or the UK). It’s that lack of overt prestige that caused me to turn away from Singlish. In my mind their’s a bias that associate Singlish with a lack of education since it isn’t a form of English that would be used in academic settings.

Their’s another type of prestige of course and that’s covert prestige. It’s the prestige that comes with language used amongst a small group. It has it’s own sort of prestige because it creates a sense of inclusion within an exclusive group. Almost everyone wants to belong, and use of language with covert prestige helps create that sense of inclusion within a small community. However, this sort of language also excludes. Since covert prestige is the language used within a certain community (for example Singlish is used among Singaporeans) it creates a sense of inclusion within that particular community while at the same time excluding the speaker from everyone else. You are including yourself within a certain group while excluding and being excluded by those outside that group. People often seem to dislike those who are different from them and speaking in a way associated with a certain group of people to those outside that group may lead to being excluded by others, because of perceived difference.

Another interesting thing to note is that none overtly prestigious language has been used as a sign of rebellion or defiance against a perceived elite. Their’s a reason that populists like Donald Trump use covertly prestigious language instead of a overtly prestigious language. As I said before overtly prestigious language is often associated with this elite. By intentionally avoiding overtly prestigious language people like Donald Trump and the alt right are showing that they will not follow “the establishment” by using language that is different from those they perceive as the establishment.

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Lastly, it is interesting to note the somewhat unique method through which the Korean alphabet came about. With English for the most part it’s a process of gradual evolution. Language changed as time went on. Words from other languages were incorporated into English. Geographical separation between English speaking countries led to each countries version of English developing in a slightly different direction. The point is that it’s more or less organic: language changing because of circumstance and the passage of time.

With the Korean language on the other hand their was an instance of massive “top down” change caused by less organic means. Korean started off much as Cantonese is now. A seperate language though one written in Chinese script with about 70% of the words Chinese derived. However it did have quite a few unique words, and different pronunciations (even at times different meanings) for the Chinese derived words. Up until 1443 it would have been quite fair to call Korean just another Chinese dialect. Then, King Sejong came along, and decreed that his court come up with an easier writing system. Thus the script that we now call 한글 in South Korea and 조선글 in North Korea was born. (Back then it was called 훈민정음). The differences in the present day words for the Korean alphabet is because in North Korea the word for Korea is 조선 (which is actually the original name before the split), and the South Korean word for Korea is 한국. The interesting thing about this is that the entire Korean alphabet was brought into existence, from scratch, by royal decree. Unlike the English alphabet which gradually evolved over time, the Korean alphabet for the most part was created within at most a few years.

Of course Korean does have it’s own share of gradual change. The writing system as originally created isn’t exactly the same as it is now. Some letters are no longer used for example, and certain things such as full stops and commas have been appropriated from English. Additionally the separation between North and South Korea have already started to create differences in the language used by the two countries. However, I nevertheless find it quite fascinating that such an extreme change in the Korean language (they developed an entire writing system!) was brought into existence by the power of a single absolute monarch. Of course their was widespread resistance at first. People didn’t want to change their way of writing, and the aristocracy saw the keeping of the Chinese writing system as beneficial for their continued survival (the Chinese script being harder only the upper class had time to learn it), but now in the present day Chinese characters in Korean have now been almost completely replaced by an alphabet created through the decree of one man.

 

Have we Become Blind?

Have we Become Blind?

How our modern society fosters a willing ignorance of the world’s problems.

 

One in nine girls in the developing world marry before the age of nine – a fact uncovered by the  International Center for Research on Women that leads to shock and outrage.

But why are people shocked, really?  How has an issue that affects so many girls around the world completely bypassed you in daily life?

No matter what happens in the world, even in there is a war in Syria which has claimed 10204 lives according to the website “I AM SYRIA”, even if 15 million girls are forced to marry before the age of 18, even if the Rohingya are being slaughtered in Myanmar it seems as if though it doesn’t affect us one bit.

 

1. The Syrian town of Kobani devastated by the Civil War

We’ve been called the bubble wrap generation. Quite frankly, it’s true. As an article in Forbes  by Kathy Caprino says today’s children have been insulated  “from healthy risk-taking behavior”. We’ve been protected, yes, but also blindfolded. A willful ignorance of sorts has set in. We know these things happen, sure, everyone knows child marriage, for example, does happen. But people simply do not wish to comprehend the scale or the human impact of such issues. These things have become nothing more than words on a page or just photos of those we do not know. No one cares. Not really. A few people, sure. But on the grand scale I honestly think that willful ignorance is the greatest problem in modern society.

Take refugees for example. It is beyond astonishing how politicians and ordinary people alike can, in good conscience, argue for simply leaving them to die when lives could be saved by opening the doors and allowing these people in. In fact, just this year, according to the Guardian, President Trump is planning to cap refugee admissions at 45,000. The lowest in 3 decades. In support of this statement: It is beyond astonishing how politicians and ordinary people alike can, in good conscience, argue for simply leaving them to die when lives could be saved by opening the doors and allowing these people in, it may be more useful to cite instances where political anti-immigration decisions have led to deaths.

At times I fear what seems to be the gradual deterioration of the human race. By all means, I am grateful for being able to live in relative safety, and yet I wonder if humans were truly ever meant to live in such a bubble. What this illusory safe bubble has brought with it is a complete stripping away of perspective on what actually matters. In other words, why bother to care when you can just watch Netflix? The problem, fundamentally, seems to be that our best qualities seem inherently tied to pain.

An article in the “Scientific American” by Daisy Grewal for example references several studies which show that wealth reduces compassion leading researchers to speculate that “wealth and abundance give us a sense of freedom and independence from others”. Or in other words that “The less we have to rely on others, the less we may care about their feelings”

2. Several studies have found that wealth leads to a decrease in compassion.

 

It is hardship that causes us to have to rely on others. Without that, many people will simply stop caring about those around them since they have all their needs already met and feel entitled to the privileges they have.

The success of the modern world at removing people completely from those facing hardship has led to a generation (or several) of individuals who lack compassion, understanding, appreciation and basic decency.

A study from the University of Michigan which analyzed the personality tests of 13,737 students over 30 years  even said that “Today’s college students are 40-per-cent less empathetic than those of the 1980s and 1990s,”. It is quite clear here that something is wrong.

3. Has our addiction to the superficial made us into superficial people ourselves?

A life dominated by social media, video games, and Netflix has directly made us into superficial human beings. The thoughts dominating our minds is on how many likes we get on Instagram, planning the day out in Universal Studios, and thinking of how to convince our parents to let us spend longer playing video games on our laptop. It’s the constant stream of garbage running through our head that rots away the heart. When the things you care about most are things that don’t really matter, then soon nothing will matter to you anymore.

This isn’t a call to return to the 18th century. They had more problems than we do and that would solve one problem and create a thousand more. However, it is clear that our modern lifestyle is what is causing the problems in the world today. It has become too easy to stop being grateful for what we have.

Look to the USA for example, where those who live in a relatively rich and safe country continuously vote for candidates who would leave to die those fleeing from bombings.

The dissatisfaction of the white working class is often said to have contributed heavily to Trump’s victory. These are said to be people who don’t have enough rising against the establishment. However, even though those who vote for such candidates might feel less privileged than others in the country, they are still failing to see that anti-refugee and anti-immigrant policies often impact those even less fortunate.

Remove someone enough from hardship and they stop seeing the hardship of others too. We live in a prison. One built not of suffering but of superficiality. Though that in turn amplifies suffering. The central problem in the world today isn’t all the wars and tragedies it is the fact that humanity has degenerated to such an extent that we no longer want to fix problems despite having the resources to do so.

 

http://www.iamsyria.org/mission-statement.html

https://www.icrw.org/child-marriage-facts-and-figures/

https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/about-child-marriage/

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/27/donald-trump-caps-refugee-admissions-2018-historic-low

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-wealth-reduces-compassion/

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/todays-college-kids-are-40-per-cent-less-empathetic-study-finds/article1371775/

 

Image Citations:

  1. https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/03/28/syrias-civil-war-witnessing-how-it-all-began.html
  2. http://billmoyers.com/story/now-just-five-men-almost-much-wealth-half-worlds-population/
  3. https://pctechmag.com/2015/08/new-study-shows-that-internet-addiction-can-weaken-immunity/

 

Transient Workers Count Too- TWC2

When a migrant worker commits a crime who is to blame really? In some cases it should be obvious, and yet at other times it isn’t so clear-cut. If a migrant worker who is unable to have a job because they are barred from working commits theft or takes on a job illegally can we truly say that it was their fault? It could be argued that in order for there to be guilt there needs to be a choice. These workers are being denied much of a choice. When the two options are steal or starve I really don’t think that there are many options open to them. Despite what Seema said, I can’t agree that the same crime must always be punished equally at all times. It is far more justifiable for a person who is getting by but commits fraud out of greed to be thrown in jail than for the system to punish someone who commits the same act because the system forced them into that situation. The point really is that for something to be considered ethical decision there should be a reasonable choices presented. When the only choice left is to turn to crime, can we really blame anyone for doing so?

Those labels again *sigh* -Deborah Emmanuel

What I brought away from the talk with Deborah Emmanuel is that labels, or lack thereof, matter. The problem quite frankly is that in the pursuit of diversity we seem to at times create an overt focus on our differences. Just to use the example of race, the approach that some people have taken with ideas like affirmative action is to group people into different races and then try to forcibly balance them out. I have my doubts about an approach like that. Simply because it retains that same core idea that race matters, and I don’t really think that is a solution that we should be going for. It just seems to be a way to create more walls, more resentment more problems. For institutions to make decisions based on a label attached to someone seems wrong even if it is well-intentioned. Honestly, is it that hard to see people as who they are? The first thing people need to learn is to stop shoving people into boxes.

The Bubble Prison -Robyne Hayes

A photograph from Robyne Hayes showing life in Ethiopia

 

While listening to Robin Hayes’ talk what struck me wasn’t the images, it was the statistics on the screen. It is astonishing that so many people are victims of child marriage, but even more so that we don’t really know about it. That really brings me to the point of this post. No matter what happens in the world even in there is a war in Syria, even if hundreds of millions of girls are forced to marry at a young age, even in the Rohingya are being slaughtered in Myanmar it seems as if though it doesn’t affect us one bit. We’ve been called the bubble wrap generation. Quite frankly, it’s true. We’ve been insulated, protected, but also blindfolded. A willful ignorance of sorts has set in. We know these things happen, sure, everyone knows child marriage, for example, does happen, but people simply do not wish to comprehend the scale or the human impact of such issues. These things have become nothing more than words on a page or just photos of those we do not know. No one cares, not really, a few people sure, but on the grand scale I honestly think that willful ignorance is the greatest problem in modern society.

Take refugees for example. It is beyond astonishing how politicians and ordinary people alike can in good conscience argue for simply leaving them to die when lives could be saved by opening the doors and allowing these people in. At times I fear what seems to be the gradual deterioration of the human race. By all means, I am grateful for being able to live in relative safety, and yet I wonder if humans were truly ever meant to live in such a bubble. What this illusory safe bubble has brought with it is a complete stripping away of perspective on what actually matters. In other words, why bother to care when you can just watch Netflix? The problem fundamentally seems to be that our best qualities seem inherently tied to pain.

The success of the modern world at removing people completely from those facing hardship has led to a generation (or several actually) of individuals who lack compassion, understanding, appreciation and basic decency. In other words, we become what we are exposed to. The fact that our lives are dominated by social media, video games, and Netflix has directly made us into superficial human beings. The thoughts dominating our minds is on how many likes we get on Instagram, planning the day out in Universal Studios, and thinking of how to convince our parents to let us spend longer playing video games on our laptop. It’s the constant stream of garbage running through our head that rots away the heart. When the things you care about most are things that don’t really matter, then soon nothing will matter to you anymore.

This isn’t a call to return to the 18th century, they had more problems than we do and that would solve one problem but create a thousand more. However it is clear that our modern lifestyle is what has caused the problems in the world today. Donald Trump isn’t really a symptom of hardship faced by his voters. He is a symptom of the sheer lack of gratitude people have for what they have been given. Honestly, for all their complaints, every one of those people live in a rich, relatively safe country and yet they blame the people who are fleeing from having bombs dropped on them. Remove someone enough from hardship and they stop seeing the hardship of others too. We live in a prison. One built not of suffering but of superficiality. Transcend, Rise Beyond. The central problem in the world today isn’t all the wars and tragedies it is the fact that humanity has degenerated to such an extent that we no longer want to fix problems despite having the resources to do so.

Link to Robyne Hayes’ website: http://www.robynehayes.com/

Link to a project by Robyne Hayes on child marriage in Ethiopia: http://www.care.org/sites/default/files/documents/Photo_voice_final3.pdf

 

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