This week was our second to last meeting for AMK MINDS of the academic year. We completed the same activities as we do every session, including playing the drums for 30 minutes and coloring with the clients for the rest of the time. During the first few sessions, the clients did not feel encouraged at all to drum and were very apprehensive about it, in spite of how hard we tried to encourage them. However, during our last visit not only were several of the clients very excited to work with us, but also played a lot more strong and confidently than they had done at first. Some of them could even come up with slightly more complex patterns. Seeing this improvement in their motor skills throughout the year showed how effective their regular encouragement and dedication in carrying out this activities, and felt really good given all of the hard work we have to dedicate into planning and carrying out each session. This experience relates to the 4th and 5th CAS Learning Outcomes, as I worked together with the members of our service to create and commit to skills that were eventually beneficial to our clients, allowing them to improve their foundational motor skills.
I read ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ when I was 13 years old and fell in love with it more than I thought I ever could with a world that seems so far away. So as soon as we were introduced to the extended essay, I knew that I wanted it to be inspired by this book.
During our first meeting, my supervisor suggested that my initial angle, about discussing whether or not the book is a ‘coming of age’ novel was too broad. She recommended that I talk to Mr. Huntington, who is very knowledgable and passionate about this book. He suggested that I focus on the depiction of society in the book, the ‘seedy’ side of New York that serves as a most remarkable setting an exploration of the challenges of youth. So I decided to shift my focus to the circumstances that makes a book a ‘coming of age’ novel, and how this is explored in the book.
Recently, I took part in the dance performance ‘Kahaani’, which was the first time in my high school experience that I had to do a performance in front of a large crowd. I will have to encounter this challenge once again with my upcoming guitar recital on the 25th of May. I have done guitar performances more when I was younger, but now that my level is a lot higher the chances of making mistakes are also higher, making me feel very apprehensive. The performance will be at my music centre, in front of the teachers at the music academy, my family, families of other performers and anyone else who opts to attend, as it is open to anyone in the public. My goals in preparation for this performance is to practise for at least 1 hour everyday, to make sure I am very familiar with my pieces. I want to take some time to perform in front of my family and friends, so I have some experience playing with people watching me, in order to increase my confidence. This experience relates to the 1st, 2nd and 4th CAS Learning Outcomes. The 1st, because I know that performing in front of others is not a strength of mine but as a musician, an important skill to obtain. The 2nd, because I am doing something that will challenge not only my playing abilities but my ability to deal with the pressure of having other people watch me while I play the guitar. The 4th, because I know that I will have to start dedicating a large amount of time to practising guitar no matter how comfortable I feel with the pieces to ensure that I have memorised them and that playing in front of others will affect me less, as I already know the pieces so well.
Last night (January 25th) was the final show for Kahaani 2018. We performed 2 shows this year, one at 5:30 and one at 7:30. This was my first time doing a live performance during my time in the high school, so I felt very nervous prior to the show. As a group, we practised backstage to ensure that we were completely familiar with all of the steps, and to settle our nerves by restoring the confidence we had as a unified group in our performance. I was very grateful for their being 2 shows, as the first show gave me the chance to gain confidence with the positive reception we received from the crowd, making me feel a lot better for the second show. This was my first time in years performing in front of such a large crowd, but I tried my best not to focus too much on the people in front of me and instead concentrate on what I was doing to ensure that I did not make any mistakes. Having to persevere in spite of my nervousness and take on this challenge of performing in front of a crowd for the first time relates to the 4th CAS Learning Outcome, as I had to persevere a lot more than people with experience doing such performances, and the 2nd CAS Learning Outcome as this entire experience was a new and unique challenge to me. However, I did feel very proud of having the chance to learn an activity that is very traditional to my country, and I hope to apply what I have learned this year to hopefully participate next year as well. Dance is a very unique activity as it combines physical activity with cultural and ethnic origins, and this was really made more apparent to me when I saw the ability of our dance to communicate the message of the service as well as the beauty of my home country, India.
From the perspective of a member of Kolkata GC, I was very proud with the success that the show experienced. Splitting the show into 2 sessions, we feared that less people would be encouraged to come. However, the turnout for both of the performances was excellent and the reception to the dances was even better. I had a lot of responsibilities on top of being an actual dancer in preparation for such a major show, including sorting costumes, putting up posters, and carrying out the duties of the logistics officer of the GC which meant making sure that there were enough people carrying out each of the individual duties. There was a large amount of pressure throughout to do everything correctly, as I knew that making any mistakes could have major implications on the actual show. This relates to the 4th and 5th CAS Learning Outcomes, as I had to work alongside the other members of our GC with commitment in order to ensure everything ran smoothly, and most importantly, served the purpose of the GC to raise funds and awareness for the blind children in Kolkata.
Here is a picture of all of us (my dance) before the first show:
The results from my completion of Project Implicit Social Attitudes quiz stated that I have an inherent inclination towards caucasians. The way in which it collected and evaluated data was based on a series of images presented of people with caucasian/African heritage. Two images of an individual of either race were presented at one time, and the participant had to select one of the two images. While at first it demands the participant to consider their conscious motivations for selecting a particular image, as the survey progresses and further extensions added to the method of selecting, it forced the subconscious to take over, hence determining a more genuine representation of the inherent racial inclinations we may have. There are both strengths and weaknesses to this method of collecting data. One important issue relating to collecting data regarding human disposition and behaviour that it attempts to overcome is the consciousness of circumstance and obligations within it that affects the sincerity of our response. In making the questions repetitive and adding extra complications to the method of selection that force us to do so quickly and with less thought, it eliminates to a certain extent the illusion of our social presentation. However a major weakness in this process is the fact that it fails to account for mistaken clicks, which could cumulatively affect the inclination of the result.
However, there is a major flaw to the nature of this quiz in that it suggests that based on our inclination to select people repeatedly of the same race, the participant must have a preference towards a certain race or just be inherently racist. And while it is so easy to measure all the factors that can potentially make us racist or sexist, the most important thing that must be acknowledged (and this quiz fails to do so) is the matter of intent. I personally do not feel that I am a racist, or have any inclination towards caucasian people. In my opinion, I simply happened to choose more caucasian than ethnically African people out of the particular group of images I was presented, and the result could have potentially been completely different had I been presented with different images. In the same way, if somebody asked me who my favorite actor/actress was and I happened to say a male actor, does not necessarily mean I am sexist. I just happened to have more appeal towards a particular individual out of a set group of individuals who happened to be a male. But the most important thing in all of this is the idea that if I do not think that I am a racist, I cannot be told that I am a racist. If somebody does not feel any instilled prejudice towards a certain group, all of their preferences become simply a matter of circumstance. Therefore this raises the question: Are social prejudices a relative belief or an absolute truth?
In the video, Steven Pinker discusses the topic of identical twins and the way that even those separated at birth demonstrate very similar characteristics beyond just a physical level. And while anatomy is important in justifying this, in the response of certain genetic makeup to social and environmental stimuli, what the twin study also suggests is the capacity of humans to demonstrate similar behavioral traits regardless of circumstance. This can be described otherwise as human nature, the qualities we attribute to our being independent of time and place. But is human nature something we just naturally inherit? Or do we learn what it means to be human from other humans?
Because if human behaviour is based so largely on a response to other human behaviour, surely there must be a point where this concept as a whole originated. In the beginning of the video Pinker talks about the belief of the human mind being a ‘blank slate’ that is nurtured by its surroundings. So in that case if all human behaviour is an adoption of the societal circumstances, is the idea of society itself originated from the natural world? Are humans just a reflection of science? So therefore, can all human behaviour be explained by science?
A concept that has always deeply fascinated me is the theory of natural selection. Despite being speculated by scientists for centuries, it was Charles Darwin who put this theory into print in 1859, supported by his scientific method of the observations of the development of species, and in particular the relationship between their individual characteristics and the external environment. What he was able to deduce from this is the concept of the ‘survival of the fittest’, in that individuals within a species that demonstrated traits best suited to their environment survived while those who didn’t died out, until only those most genetically ‘desirable’ remained. This is how evolution occurs, as it creates a competitive environment for species within an ecosystem to adapt or face the threat of extinction. The field of philosophy can produce its own response to the Theory of Evolution in ‘Social Darwinism’, which describes the ongoing social evolution of humankind from being psychologically equivalent to animals initially to a state of universal civilisation.
These theories justify the idea of social development reflecting scientific development, that humans are forced to evolve themselves in response to science just as science must develop to meet the increasing social needs of humans. Therefore it can be said that the scientific method can be applied to humans as despite their differing layers of complexity, through long term observation both can be categorized in a similar manner for in essence, science and the modern human being are both direct results of the other.
The first week of season 3 of activities marked our first day of working on individual projects in STEM. Most of our sessions have been more group based, allowing us to have open discussions and debates on STEM related events in the news today. However, myself and the other 2 chairs decided it was important to allow people the chance to explore in depth their own specific passion within these fields and that was the inspiration behind our decision to create a STEM website, which would feature digital projects published by each individual member of the group. By digital format, we refer to a video, presentation or article that could be published on a website. Because the inspiration behind this project was to give people the chance to explore their own interests, we gave them full freedom to select any STEM related topic.
This process began when we asked people to fill out a form, a ‘proposal’ for their report detailing the topic they would like it to be based around. As chairs we looked through all of the proposals to get a better idea of the specific ideas that people had, and to ensure that our website would feature reports from topics throughout STEM.
Some of the ideas that people came up with were:
- Bitcoin (digital currency)
- Ethics of gene modification
- Green Buildings
- Biometric Technology (fingerprint and facial recognition)
The next steps for me overseeing this process will be to set up the website and ensure that everyone is organised in the weeks to come. Each session for the next 5 weeks will be dedicated to working on reports, to ensure that people have enough time to complete them without affecting the balance between their academic and extra curricular responsibilities.
This relates to the 6th CAS learning Outcome, as through the reports we are attempting to create a digital platform which people can access and explore relevant issues related to STEM in the world today, and the implications these may have on our daily lives. As this is a 5 week long commitment in which we will have to be very organised in order to meet deadlines, the 4th CAS Learning Outcome will also be demonstrated.
Under what circumstances, and to what extent, should we rely on our intuition?
Intuition is a body of thinking that exists both in our conscious and subconscious. We accept it as our most reliable form of emotional response in unfamiliar, suspicious or hostile circumstances, and fall back on it when other methods of rationalisation fail. It exists largely as an instinctive response to return to more settling circumstances. In that sense, it can be said that intuition is our way of relating unfamiliar information on the basis of a combination of more comprehensible truths. Intuition is hence a way of using personal truths to find other truths in certain situations. However, this can be dangerous in that it can lead us directly to presumptions that may not necessarily be true, such as responding to an unaccustomed social situation in a way that its not entirely appropriate for those particular circumstances.
What role should intuition play in our acquisition for knowledge in different Areas of Knowledge?
Relating back to this idea of taking unfamiliar pretenses to familiar ones, intuition can play an incredibly important role in our ability to not only seek new knowledge but recognize where there is knowledge to be found in the first place. For example, with the case of famous scientist and creator of modern atomic structure Ernest Rutherford, had he not intuitively decided to check if any electrons bounced back after firing them at a sheet the presence of an enclosed atomic nucleus may never have been discovered. He had made no prior discoveries or done any recorded research to suggest he had any idea what he may have found should he have made this modification of this experiment. But with the outcome of the experiment he was able to make the link between the nucleus and the rest of the atomic structure, using this new knowledge to enhance his understanding of the old one.
The given article is based on the recent news story of the acquittal of police officer Jason Stockley for the shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith. The article begins by highlighting the controversial nature of the decision and Judge Timothy Wilson’s involvement in it, enforcing the premise that many people believe that the wrong decision has been made. It then describes the strong negative response towards Judge Wilson’s statement regarding the fact that the gun may have been Smith’s considering he was a heroin dealer, despite Stockley’s DNA being found on the gun. After this, the article describes the concept of implicit bias as a subconscious bias regarding race, ethnicity, age and appearance. From this it then concludes that Judge Wilson may have been biased. So the process of deductive reasoning is the way by which the article explored the general premise of their being a negative and controversial response to the decision and the fact that it is indeed possible for people to have bias, and from this concluded that the decision may have been biased. While this conclusion technically makes sense based on the given premises, the logic behind this can also suggest that as people can be biased, the public are biased towards Stockley because of his race, which is what led to the negative reaction towards the outcome of the trial. Therefore both the premises and the conclusion can be said to be neither true nor false. While the premises are true and the conclusion has the capacity to be true based on the premises, the conclusion can be disproven by other conclusions based on the same premises making it untrue at the same time. So the conclusion is both proven and disproven by the premises. Besides the method of reasoning, the lack of detailed evidence and therefore more specific premises prevents any conclusion made by the article from being proven or disproven.