Self Reads – We need to talk about Kevin

I just finished reading “We need to talk about Kevin” by Lionel Shriver and it has me questioning a lot about family relationships. The dynamic between Kevin to his father, his mother and Celia, shows that one person can have many layers. Lionel Shriver uses a family tragedy to depict the reality of love and compromise and reinforces that sometimes things don’t work out in the end.

I like the style in which the story is written, just a bunch of letters sent from Eva to Franklin. I have never read a book before that was compromised only of letters. It adds a personal feel to the story and it emphasises the pain that Eva is in that causes her to resort to her ex husband. The letters also allowed for jumps in and out of time, sometimes Eva would talk about her current life and sometimes she would remember what happened on the Thursday. A contrast was created between the normalcy of her life now, versus the confusion and struggle before. It is almost ironic that her life became calm after her son shot up a school.

Shriver also challenges that idea that a mother always loves her child. My mom and I read the book at the same time and so we were able to compare the way we felt. The scene at the prison when Eva told Kevin that she hated him, according to my mom, was something she could never imagine. Of course never having experienced anything like this, my mom feels as though she would love me no matter what.  On the other hand, (although I am not a mother) I believe that there can be limits to how much you love someone. Blood only holds so far, I believe it is possible to push a relationship to breaking.

One of the most interesting aspect of the book was the polarising behaviour Kevin has between his mom and his dad. It adds complication to his character by depicting how someone can be so unpredictable. Kevin’s personality in front of his dad is his attempt to be a normal kid, I almost see Kevin’s dad as his outlet to be a kid just like everyone else. Even though he may have disliked going to a museum or playing a sport, I think it was Kevin’s one attempt to keep his life on the “normal track”. I think Kevin’s mom was his opportunity to be how he really felt. He did not need to pretend or put on a show, which I think help create a good relationship between them in the end.

Something that worked for me was the pace of the book. The biggest thing I notice amongst my favourite authors (Khaled Housseini, George Orwell etc) is that they all have a steady pace in their books. The story continued to progress as we learnt more about Kevin’s life and the lead up to that day, but Shriver also gave enough details to keep the reader deeply engaged in the text. Throughout the book I was engaged to the same level, I did not see my interest levels drop off anywhere.

All in all I think it would be one of the best books that I’ve read. The plot itself is heavy, but the concepts it is linked to are very prevalent in most of our lives. Shriver takes an extreme circumstance to help us question day to day beliefs.

Thinking Piece

My Article: https://globalvoices.org/2019/09/05/millions-in-indias-north-eastern-assam-state-at-risk-of-losing-citizenship/

Plan:

I was looking at an article online in regards to India’s new policies on recognise ‘true’ citizens in Assam. The Indian government is trying to identify those who deserve Indian citizenship and those who are immigrants from Bangladesh. This poses a lot of questions about identity. What truly makes someone India? Having the same vales, wearing Indian clothes or speaking one of the languages? I’m going to be writing a thinking piece on the techniques the author uses to get his message across, and what he is trying to impart to his readers.

Our first training session

Learning Outcomes: LO3-Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience. // LO4-Show commitment and perseverance in CAS experiences. Students can articulate the stages from conceiving an idea to executing a plan for a CAS experience or series of CAS experiences.

I participate in Model United Nations, which is a debate activity that simulates what happens in the United Nations. We discuss issues that range from human rights, health and economics, which is much like the committees in the UN. Every year large conferences are hosted in Singapore where many kids come together to participate in debate. I help to train MUN for beginners, which means every week for 3 seasons for 1.5 hours I am training new kids to develop and enhance their debating skills.

I am doing this because I am very passionate about MUN. It is an activity I started from the 7th grade and I recognise how much my trainers motivated me and pushed me to work harder, and I wanted an opportunity to do the same for other students who are passionate.

The first thing we did with the new group today was that we just gave them a short introduction into what MUN is. We wanted to familiarise them with the mission of MUN, what they stand to gain and just the importance of the United Nations. As a trainer I understand that some may see MUN as a very intellectual, perhaps boring and possibly idealistic activity. However, most people fail to see the lessons they learn along the way, such as empathy and diplomacy that will help them in years to come.

During the lesson today we played a game of jeopardy, which is a fun way of teaching them some background information and getting them thinking about MUN. The evidence for this activity is HERE. We were able to see the varying levels of knowledge amongst the kids and even interest.

In regards to LO3, raining the MUN sessions helps me build on my collaboration, because it means I have to interact with the kids throughout training to get a better sense of what help I can offer. I have seen over the years how it has helped me become more organised and efficient in terms of my planning. As for LO4, MUN is a large time commitment as planning training sessions extends to time at home and even meeting with the other trainers outside of club time. It also means that each week we start with a concept (conceive and idea) and work together to slowly start piecing it all.

 

Our first service session

Learning Outcomes: LO3-Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience // LO7-Recognise and consider the ethics implications of choices and actions

The service that I will be doing for the entirety of the school year, is lighthouse motor skills. In this service, we will be working with a group of visually and audibly impaired children that go to a special needs school. We meet for 1.5 hours every single week, though not always with the kids. I am doing this because I love working with kids. I always feel like it is a good break for me to just enjoy myself and have fun with them, and forget about the stresses and worries of IB. I also recognise that this interaction is very important for them as they look forward to it very much and they build trusting relationships with us.

Today at our first session the first thing that we looked at was what each of us could contribute to the service. We had a range of responses, some being skills such as communication, others being hobbies such as sports and sometimes just enthusiasm or the liking of little kids. It was very interesting to see the range of things that people can input into the service as that gave us a good idea of what we could do with the kids. For example, I noticed that sport seemed to be quite popular, so we could potentially do some sport based activities.

Afterwards we began to focus on some challenges that we could potentially face. Something I know I’ll struggle with is my lack of patience. I like to be efficient and organised, but kids bring an element of unpredictability. Being patient with changes and dealing with the fact that not everything will happen in perfect time, is something I would like to see myself work on throughout the service. Many people also felt that coming up with creative activities each week could be a challenge, as they also need to be suited for the capabilities of the kids.

We moved on to look at some questions we have, such as the age of the kids, what type of disabilities they have and the size of the group itself. We began to investigate by looking at their website, which actually gave us a very good sense of their school. We could look at their mission and what they aim to achieve as well as some of the clubs they have. I noticed they have a choir and theatre club, and I think that gives scope for some singing and acting activities.

I think this service fits into LO3 well because each week we have to plan and be ready for the kids, not only participate. It will teach us all the things we need to know in terms of planning events for another stakeholder. I think looking at our choices here is crucial because it benefits a group of people apart from us. I see LO7 being implemented here because we constantly have to question what the consequence of our actions will be and whether its beneficial to our stakeholder.

Bertolt Brecht

Today in our HL class we explored we explored the theatrical style of Bertolt Brecht. It looks into reminding the audience that they are actually watching a play. This is done through devices such as:

  • Breaking the fourth wall
  • Cross cutting (non liner structure)
  • Flashbacks (non liner structure)
  • Breaking and getting back into character
  • Making corrections as you go along

I really like the way we can use this style to make a serious topic quite humorous and give the audience that contrast. I think it also gives a lot of scope for us to use in terms of theatrical devices because it’s not meant to be naturalistic. Brecht wants to ensure that the audience can’t relate to the play and I think this could be used for an abstract piece, which could be done with elements of Berkoff’s non naturalistic style also.

An idea I had was potentially doing a play backwards, as Brecht makes his actors learn their lines backwards. It could be maybe doing a sequence and then reverse doing it, but in regards to a plot or something like that.

Culturama Beginning

Learning Outcome: LO1-Identify their own strengths and develop areas for growth // LO5-Demonstrate the skills and recognise the benefits of working collaboratively.

I was recently accepted into culturama which is essentially a performance put on by my school that entertains dances from all over the world. The theme for this year’s show is: Unexplored, which looks at more traditional and older styles that have not been performed in a while. I am participating with a group of girls in presenting dances from Iran. I am hoping that I can learn some of my own strengths through the way in which I approach things that make me nervous or even manage my time and also learn more about what I can gain from working collaboratively.

We started off rehearsal today by recapping a dance that we had learned when we auditioned. It was quite concerning that I needed to watch and follow the steps, which showed that I needed to dedicate more time. We then moved on to starting the final part of the dance that everyone is involved in. It was complex because we were in lines and holding on to each other while moving, which meant we were bumping into each other or stepping on people’s toes.

I was then selected with 3 others to do a special dance that involved the prop of drums. We know most of the dance but I am still quite nervous to get the prop involved as it looks quite big and I am afraid I could drop it or the steps may not look as graceful because I have to hold the drums. I am quite excited that I get to be one of the 4 people performing it, as they chose us specifically to do so! All in all it was a great rehearsal and I can’t wait for more.

Progress and challenges

Learning Outcomes: LO5-Demonstrate the skills and recognise the benefits of working collaboratively // LO2- Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process

Today is our third session of dance rehearsals and it is becoming a bit harder to keep up. Our new dance is very partner dependent, meaning we have complicated moves of turning and spinning together. It is a little hard to concentrate on myself and doing what I need to do, and now it is even harder because we have to make sure we are coordinated with someone else. There are many times where I become too concerned with the way that a movement looks or how smooth it is, that you can see I am not in the moment, which for an audience ruins the mood.

It is a tricky change, but working with a partner has helped me realise there are many benefits to working with someone else. I feel quite supported now that I have someone dancing in time with me, as it feels like a team effort that we are making. Even when we mess up, it feels good to have someone that is there to encourage me to keep trying regardless.

Furthermore, with school work increasing, I find myself having less time to practice outside of class which means that remembering the steps is becoming a little more difficult. We keep having to recap old dances, which makes it harder to move on with new ones. I think towards the performance day, I will need to manage my time and ensure that I have allocated sufficient days to rehearse and perfect the dance. All in all it has been tough but extremely worthwhile. Here is a clip of the new dance:

First Session of Body Pump!

Learning Outcome: LO4-Show commitment and perseverance in CAS experiences. Students can articulate the stages from conceiving an idea to executing a plan for a CAS experience or series of CAS experiences.

Today I had my very first session of body pump and it was quite a cool experience. Body pump is essentially a 1 and a 1/2 hour workout which focuses on all parts of the body. I do it one time a week and will be doing it for two seasons. I hope to achieve my Learning Outcome (LO) by showing my commitment and perseverance not just to body pump but to my health and fitness in general by working out beyond the one session a week and eating better!

I had done body pump last year, and due to a long exam stretch and a lazy summer… I had not really been keeping up with my fitness and it was for that reason that the work out today pushed me to my limits! I was finding myself constantly having to use less weights or modify the exercise to make it easier for me. I was quite pleased with the way that i did my best to keep with the instructor and keep doing the activity even if I did it at a slower pace.

It was slightly intimidating as many people there were regulars, meaning they were used to stressing themselves physically. At times I was a little put off because I felt like I wasn’t doing very well, and I had to just remind myself that this is a competition against my best, not anybody else’s. I think over time I can utilise working in a group to push myself and gain motivation from those around me, rather than seeing it as a judgement on my abilities.

I am really looking forward to more sessions (and not so much being sore tomorrow) as I feel that I will see a change not just physically but even mentally. I find that the more I exercises the better I perform at school, the more efficient I am with work and I’m just happier and more present in general. I think that having one day a week where I force myself to work out and concentrate on that, will be a good break for me!

Here are some photos:

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