Category Archives: Documents of Learning

I’m a Helpless Cause – Ham4School 2016

Disclaimer: I apologize in advance for excessive use of puns and Hamilton quotes to anyone whom it may pain or concern.

Yup, that’s basically me with Hamilton right now. I really don’t know how to say no to it, so you could pretty much call me helpless. I’m full-out, non-stop with everything to do with it, and so I was not going to throw away my shot at spending class-time analysing and discussing Hamilton with fellow classmates who are also blown away by this outstanding creation! Then the opportunity to use the very beauty of the musical and its quotes through imagery (in memes) and I am completely, wait for it,  satisfied. Oh right, memes, that’s what this post is supposed to be about, not just my dearest Hamilton, although that would probably be enough for me to fill a blog post with.

Any ways, let’s get right into it!

I made a few memes to show some of the different messages that stood out to me in Hamilton and how they relate to some of the current events in our world as well as the big ideas.  Here is one of them.

I created this one based on how different these two scenarios are regarding the topic of immigrants and foreign politicians. I think it particularly embodies the big idea of how disparities in power alter the balance of relationships in societies specifcally. This is shown in how Hamilton was in power, and that was it, he was in power, and now Trump believes that people born outside of his own home physical landmass shouldn’t have the right to have that power there. Now it is important to note that Trump is a fairly extreme case on the spectrum, but he is certainly not the only one who disagrees with the entry of immigrants in general in to the United States of America. As the issue of Syrian immigrant displacement grows and carries on many people in western countries feel uncomfortable or even fearful of the possibility of a large number of them, or even any, coming to their homes. Most fear a certain risk in who exactly is coming into the country but needless to say it wasn’t so much of an issue back in Hamilton’s time when virtually everyone involved in the newly founded societies was an immigrant in one way or another. This is an example of how “Collective identity is constructed and can change over time.” (another big idea). It’s definitely interesting to consider this and how all of the leaders didn’t necessarily consider themselves immigrants then, nor do they now, but there are and were countless people entering the nation for different reasons all the time. Likewise it’s interesting to look at the public opinion on these events in the respective times.

The next couple memes were a little more personally inspired and special to me as they reflect and issue that I am a little more directly related to.

This first one originated from a brief discussion we had in class about the difference between the meanings of “Work” and “Werk”. In conclusion it was generally determined that the word and meaning of “werk” could be attributed to the usage of “work” in the song The Schuyler Sisters in Hamilton. The reasoning behind this was that the consensus meaning of “werk” was that it is more of an adjective to describe someone who is doing a really great job at something that could be relatable, and can also be used in a somewhat sarcastic or fun-loving way. For example, it could be used to describe someone who is really rocking a unique outift, like “Werk it girl!” Also often used in a longer, more drawn out format, ie. “Weeerk!” as was found difficult to describe without the presenting of it as such.

Any ways, back to the meme. I do agree that in this song of the musical Angelica Schuyler is really showing how she can be just as strong of a presence in society and in equal in force to the men and here Eliza and Peggy are cheering her on for it. For them she is really showing how women can “werk it” just like the guys and don’t just assume them to go along with the status quo or not to be aware of what is going on in society. We also did mention in class how in the actual script of the musical it is written rather as “work”, nonetheless I feel it suits this situation more accurately, at least for a meme, to use the above style. As Eliza and Peggy are supporting Angelica in this segment I think it is also something that women today could stand behind and cheer as we are still not looked upon as equals to men on the daily basis and for what we can really achieve. Additionally this could be a relatable reaction for some women watching say for example Emma Watson make her remarkable speech about women’s rights at the UN in support of her HeForSHe campaign. It could also be used in this context synonymous with “You killed it!” or “Great job!” Kind of like “Awesome. Wow.” haha(Hamilton reference) not quite. This meme represents the big ideas “Emerging ideas and ideologies profoundly influence societies and events.” as well as “Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and societies.” Thememe represents the former in the idea of feminism both then and now and women’s rights, and the latter in how women have opportunities to use their abilities in the world. This was an issue in the 1700s and other than a few technical improvements such as the right to vote many commonplace interactions are still impacted by prejudice and sexism.

Which is largely what my next meme is about.

Again, as you can see, this is from the song The Schuyler Sisters and I think it really shows how women can be treated in society. Even down to the smallest of gestures or comments by people that really don’t seem to mean much but give a vague and far-more-often-than-not inaccurate description of a woman. These are really truly insulting for the woman to whom it is aimed and also to women as a whole society. The recent rise in public pressure against these societal ‘habits’ is what we know as the “emerging idea” of feminism, and as we can see from this song, sparks were starting fly for this flame even way back in the 1700s at the very beginning of North American Western colonization. One of the biggest current storylines that is an issue on the table, is the gender pay gap. This issue is  becoming so prominent hat groups such as the United States women’s soccer team have recently gotten very involved. Additionally campaigns such as the HeForShe campaign and feminism in general are garnering more and more attention and bringing new light to the opinions around women being capable in the workplace and as strong as men in society. I think that the internet and social media have especially helped this rise where it couldn’t have before as it has given women a stronger voice and more power to present themselves and their side of the story. This is a perfect  example of how “Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies.”

I created another meme that can be found on my Twitter page but I chose not to include here as I was just getting the hang of it with that one and I think these embody the ideas a little more.

Overall I think this was a very useful and productive way of looking at the messages in Hamilton and applying them to events today in a way that is very relevant to our society now. Memes! I wasn’t very experienced myself with the meme and internet culture that I had to explore a  little for this and so even though it may seem a little weird this was actually a  very useful area to learn about. I think it’s actually important that we are aware of this form of communication in this day and age because as we discussed, it is how many of us communicate, and so understanding this is obviously very important. Further, as the age category that utilizes this form of expression grows it will become more and more prominent in culture.

Needless to say I also thoroughly enjoyed this activity because, well, Hamilton! So for now, though I’m sure you’ll be back to memes soon, I myself need to take a break for a little bit. Haha who am I kidding this is an absolutely amazing current event in itself and I don’t know how to say not to it! Well I hope you enjoyed my memes, I’ll see you on the other side of the war!

Fire In the Tunnel – Finding Our Way Out of Syria

How do we get out of this tunnel? Is there a light at the end of it? Well right now there are actually a lot of lights in the tunnel, fires, but that’s certainly not a good thing.

There are many proposed, discussed, and presented, routes to success in the conflict of Syria, ISIS, and the rebels, but none have been successfully executed to this point.

Amongst discussions with classmates, parents, and teachers about the role of the world in the Syrian crisis, there are endless questions that arise.

  • Is there a non-violent solution to this conflict?
  • What is the ‘best’ way to end this conflict? What would ‘best’ mean?
  • Is what we, as Canadians, are doing effective(helping the rebel forces and now withdrawing air strikes)?
  • Which side are we on? Is it the right one?
  • Do we fight fire with fire, or with water?

To some, this conflict might even seem irrelevant as we, as young Canadians, sit on the other side of the planet, largely unaffected by the catastrophe that is tearing apart the teenagers of an utterly different world. However, as refugees come closer and closer to us and we may now even come face to face with them in our own communities, there is no denying our involvement in this conflict.  In fact, our very efforts in welcoming these war-torn civilians into our homes makes it even more important for us to consider what our actions mean overseas. Even greater, it forces us to remember that we are not uninvolved in this fight and we cannot become uninvolved, because these people are now our family and friends, they are us. We do not abandon ourselves.

In addition, our actions now, though they may seem unapparent to the average citizen here in Canada, could greatly impact our lives in the future: one, five, even ten years down the road. This war is a fight between morals and beliefs and if we want our world to remain the way it is now, we have no choice but to act.

As was shown in November when terrorists attacked various public locations in ‘the city of love’, there are people in this world who believe in different things than we do, some of which are unthinkable to our culture. Not everyone believes the same thing, and it is imperative that we do not generalize or stereotype in this fight, but we must not sit around and do nothing either whilst out own people get torn apart and ravaged. That is simply not humane.

That being said, maybe our actions right now shouldn’t be actions at all. Perhaps for the time being to act is to think. For, this war has been active for over five years now, and with the definition of insanity looming over our own heads, might it be time to start pouring water onto the flames?

This, as it happens, is what our new Prime Minister has begun to do, one could say. Mr. Trudeau has at this time removed all air-strike actions on Syria and the surrounding combat regions. Throwing it back to Paris, Mr.Trudeau himself in fact made it important to get French President Hollande’s blessing before proceeding in this course as Hollande had recently encouraged all Allied Forces to apply more airstrikes specifically. Here his actions were influenced by the recent events at the heart of his people. This had obviously brought on a new sense of urgency and emergency as it was effecting them directly. But is that the right way to go about this? If a bunch of people are killing a bunch of our people, does that make it okay for us to kill a bunch of theirs?

Another perspective in the Kurdish Allies of Canada stated that Trudeau’s new actions were “bad news”. Their opinion is likely influenced by the fact that they were directly benefiting in support from the air strikes and their physical presence in their conflict region. They will no longer have this backing from the Canadian Forces, but then again they might get some new partners soon.

Canadian Forces will continue to be active in supporting and training rebel troops in Syria. As for whether those are the right people to be supporting is another question. Situations are becoming more and more complex and intertwined as new colours emerge on the palette of the Middle East, and interests and purposes mix just the same. The side on which we believe is moral or right may not be as easy to pick out, and when the tensions of war are ever-present, the task is again more difficult.

A viewpoint that might side with Mr. Trudeau’s recent actions, is the Christian community. An article about the conflict in the Sojourners magazine, “a progressive monthly publication of the Christian social justice organization Sojourners” according to Wikipedia, that claims itself a “Faith in Action for Social Justice” organization, focuses on finding non-violent solutions. They agree in that they do not want air strikes to continue as the chemical weapons being used in the regions could be set off by explosions. This would and is killing thousands of people. It also becomes difficult in the heat of battle, they point out, to locate the source and initiators of any chemical warfare. The Sojourners also propose a “humanitarian safe zone” or a no-fly zone. Again these would look to protect the most possible human lives within our control.

This perspective comes from the humanitarian root of the Christian community, and thus respecting all lives. Their goal is, though they recognize it is extremely complicated, to talk our way out of war peacefully with the various parties involved. This as it seems is a daunting and more and more seeming unlikely task, but is it still worth a shot?

Then you can throw in the major world players of the United States and Russia.  Now Putin and Russia are likely looking at a military option of dismantling the violent organizations. One article on Newsweek presented that Putin “wants… Washington and the West to face a binary choice: Bashar the Barrel Bomber or Baghdadi the False Caliph.” From this you could guess that he is going to militarily and aggressively attack the chosen region and take them once and for all out of the picture. One must add however that that will be easier said than done, as we can now see through Paris that the organizations are not solely isolated to those regions.

Lastly, you now throw in the changing picture of the U.S. government and what the threat of Trump in that image brings. How would Trump do sitting at a table bartering for the lives of millions of people? Would he care about each individual one? Or would he throw himself into a big picture scenario and pick out what he thinks is that fastest way to dis-involve and save the U.S.

His point of view is to ” bomb “the shit” out of the Islamic State”, according to Foreign Policy In Focus .org. This is obviously a very right wing perspective, not so much focused on the humanitarian rights of individuals but seeing the benefit for his side.

Trump also views that refugees should not be allowed out of the regions they come from.  Going back to the Paris attack, a French Affiliate stated that at least one of the attackers in that instance entered the country with refugees. This acts as evidence for Trump’s perspective in protecting his own people at home.  He proves his point by stating how “We are the worst when it comes to paperwork.” when discussing how the Western world really doesn’t know who each of these individuals are when they enter.

So after much thought and deliberation there is now simple way out of this. You can see that even the most radical views have their benefits, and some of the reasons for the people we trust can be wavering. Ethically it is important that we respect the lives of each person as ourselves, but physically that is hard to put in to play. Might there be a point at which we do have to see the bigger picture, and solely that? Not looking at one live and the next but the tally of lives over years? The thoughts of this very task is horrific and terrorizing but it’s ultimately where we stand, and unless something drastically changes soon, we could be in it for the long haul. At this point it seems to be the direction we’re headed, we just keep throwing matches onto the flame, and that is clearly not working.

Circle Synthes(es)

Well here we are again. As I described in my first document of learning one year ago, everything in life recurs, it comes back to us, happens again. So here is the recurrence of my TALONS Social Studies processes and learning. Now I can utilize that plural version of the word ‘synthesis’.  

In my leadoff post last year in, what was, Social Studies 10, I started off by explaining what synthesis meant, and why I had chosen it as the title for my first blog post, along with the word ‘circle’. The main description I gave to the former word is that it is the culmination of many parts and what you could call building blocks to create a whole. In this case I am taking pieces of the world, pieces of skills, and pieces of learning, and bringing them together to create who I am. So, of course, I will be continuing that journey this year. I added the word ‘circle’ because, as I previously mentioned, it all happens again and we go through those same synthesizing process multiple times in our different journeys.

In that first post, just to remind all of you, we were meant to discuss the questions that were brought up in class, “Where are we going?” and “Where have we been?” As I explained then, “There is an infinite number of ways to answer the questions…” however, I have a slightly better idea how to do so now, now that I’ve seen a bit of my future that is. I’ve seen what TALONS Social Studies looks like, I’ve seen more of what my life looks like, and I’ve seen more of what the world looks like. I made my way through “Social Studies 10” developing a better understanding of what is important to me in this world. One of the ways that helped me significantly in this process was the roleplay of Laura Secord in the Canadian Confederation studies, as well as the fictional character I created for my final presentation, John O’Callaghan. I used these characters to help myself see other perspectives in historical events and it gave me a lot of insight into what they would have felt, as well as what I would have felt in those situations.  This is something that I would like to do more of this year, possibly with the French Revolution, which I am very interested in learning about. I’m also excited for other major events in history like the American Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. These are all parts of history that I don’t know much about so I would love to delve deeper into some of the backstories of these and the impacts they had on the world.

A key message that I finished off the year with in my Final presentation, was to appreciate what you have and not to get too hung up on the past. I think this is important as I move forward, just keeping my eyes up and on the world around me as it is so special. Additionally, this is going to be my last official TALONS semester, so there’s some reason right there for enjoying the present. I would also like to take this into my learning this year, if at all possible, and try to look at not only how we changed from negative events in the past, but also how we developed from some positive ones. I completely agree that we must see how we got here, the good, the bad, AND the ugly, but I find that we do often sway more towards the latter portion of that phrase in our modern world, and possibly past, but I think it’s crucial that we appreciate the good too. It will also help us find light in times of trouble today in current issues and problems.

Another way I’d like to utilise different perspectives in my learning, other than a direct roleplay, is through our class discussions and also our many readings. I very much enjoy both of these activities and I want to make sure that I continue to participate in them enthusiastically like last year as that was a lot of fun. More so, on the note of gaining a piece to my whole, I want to particularly try to hear, value, and understand the different perspectives of the authors that we read as well as my fellow classmates. In this way I will be working towards the Curricular Competency “Explain different perspectives on past or present people, places, issues, and events by considering prevailing norms, values, worldviews, and beliefs(perspective).” I will also be working towards the Competency “Use Social Studies inquiry processes and skills to: ask questions; gather, interpret, and analyze ideas; and communicate findings and decisions.”

Much of this, was thoroughly achieved or closely attempted this week in our classes, for example. I spent a lot of time annotating the reading on Columbus that was assigned, from which I gained a lot of new ideas on various different topics, not just Columbus specifically or how the world’s view of history in general is sometimes tinted a certain shade.





Here you can see some of my highlightings and notes in the margins of key ideas I found throughout the reading. I hope to continue this with all readings this semester.

I hope to devote more time to these readings as well as other elements of the Philosophy Pop Quiz this year as those are all things that I am passionate about and enjoy doing and they will also benefit my learning in Social Studies and in general as well.

I also gained a lot of new viewpoints through our discussions as a class and with Mr. Jackson. I think it will be very useful this semester to hear the unique perspectives of my classmates on some of the key events in the history that we will be studying, as well as on the topic of some current events, *wink *cough *the United States Election*.

Another core competency that I would like to focus on is “Asses how prevailing conditions and actions of individuals and groups affect events, decisions, and developments (cause and consequence).” This is something that I hope to look at as we move forward more this semester in major events.

I found the above also relates a lot to what I looked at this week in the Columbus package relating to the big Idea I chose, “The physical environment influences the nature of political, social, and economic change.” This was an area that I also found very intriguing in our class discussion as Mr. Jackson brought up specifically the idea that all civilizations were “developed” and “civilized” just in their own ways and to their own individual environments. This is again something that I hope to focus on as we discuss other occurrences in history and why they occurred. This is the epitome of taking a different perspective at things, as, even as the often progressive-minded-citizens that we are, this is likely a new way to see things. How might life have been for us if we accepted the ways of those people? Did they need the technology Europeans brought? Why didn’t they take over the rest of the world like Europeans did? Bringing it back to that original idea of ‘circle synthesis’, you can see how this Big Idea connects infinitely to the fourth one, “Collective identity is constructed and can change over time.”

An interesting point that arose in our final discussion this week was the concept of “young” and “old” civilizations. An example of “young” being The United States of America and an example of “old” being Germany. I found the different points of this concept interesting when looking at the reasoning behind these countries’ actions in history and in the modern world. It was very a very intriguing point to think about and made me wonder, if Europe is old, what happens when they get older? What happens when we get older, will they become our grandparents? And then the inevitable, or is it, can a civilization die? How will we be affected by that? Does our civilization have emotions? Will we grieve?

Overall I think this will shape up to be a very unique and unpredictable semester. I am sure I will learn endless new things about myself and about the world, and I don’t know exactly where it will take me, or us, but one thing is for certain, it will all come around again in the end.