Literacy and Liberty


Investigative Project Draft
Posted by: , November 19, 2018, 11:06 am
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Guiding Questions:

-To what degree do literacy rates effect the size of a nation’s economy?

– How is literacy defined in the Africa’s sub-Saharan region?

– What external factors contribute to the low literacy rates of this region?

-How prevalent are non-profit and philanthropic education programs in this region, and what effect are they having?

The vast majority of Americans are literate, and learning to read and write is the first concept children are taught as they begin to receive an education. Along with a high literacy rate, the United States has the largest economy in the world. The relationship between literacy and the state of a countries economy is clear; the higher a nation’s literacy rate is, the greater chance they are also maintaining a healthier economy (with exceptions of Russia and Israel). Does a higher literacy rate create a healthier economy, or does a healthier economy create a higher literacy rate? Africa’s sub-Saharan region has the lowest literacy rates in the world as well as some of the poorest countries. A lack of transportation, technology, and funding has been at the root of the literacy crisis in the region. As a region reliant on agriculture and the mining of natural resources, improving the literacy rate would be a solution to diversifying the economies of nations in this region, and further development overall.



Gun Violence in Schools: An Epidemic
Posted by: , November 19, 2018, 8:10 am
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Guiding questions:

  1. What is the effect of school shootings and gun violence on faculty and students’ mentality and morale?
  2. How has the response to school shootings changed over time?

Thesis (maybe): School gun violence has a significant impact on students and faculty, not just physically, but mentally as well.  As school shootings have increased in prevalence since the 1999 Columbine shooting, there has been more push for tougher gun laws with more restrictions.  As years have passed and more schools have been affected by gun violence, students’ ability to learn and the faculties’ ability to continue to function in a normal school setting becomes increasingly more challenging.

On April 20th, 2018, on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, thousands of students and school faculty walked out of their respective schools to protest gun violence in response to the Parkland High School shooting that happened on Valentine’s Day of the same year.  My high school in Virginia, Douglas Southall Freeman, gave the students and faculty the option, after much deliberation, to partake in the nationwide event. At 10 A.M., hundreds of students from my school stood up and walked out of the class, many with protest posters in hand.  We all congregated on the baseball field, and a group of students began to read the names of the students and teachers who lost their lives in Parkland, as well as descriptions of their lives and their achievements. We had a minute of silence after each name was read. While the megaphone used did not quite reach the whole crowd, every person understood the importance of those moments of silence.  Throughout the United States, the prevalence of gun violence is high. There is no doubt gun violence is U.S. schools has an impact on both the students and faculty, but what is that impact? How do students react differently or similarly around the country, and how has the response to gun violence changed since Columbine?



Introducation and guiding question on investigative project
Posted by: , November 19, 2018, 1:47 am
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As we all know about the recent lawsuit case of Asian American sued Harvard University for conducting racial discrimination. Harvard University was accused to rate low on personality and quality of Asian American students to control their acceptance rate. The case of Harvard University is not an accident. It reveals the harsh environment around Asian American. The status of this group is awkward because they are neither mainstream in US society nor vulnerable group considering they achieving higher socioeconomic success than other generally. After reading Nicole Hannah Jones’ work talking about the problem of lack of education of black people, I am realizing the education problem that Asian American group, especially Chinese American group, is currently facing.

Guiding question:
1. How to define “justice” and “equal rights”?

2. What kind of influence of Affirmative Action have on acceptance rates of minority groups and white people?

3. Is Affirmative Action a good resolution for racial discrimination problem?

4. Would abolishing Affirmative Action help Asian American achieve justice and eliminate discrimination during college application?

5. How would you explain reasons for that Bill of AB-1726 was passed? What kind of influence would it have on Chinese and Indian immigrants specifically?



Academic Tracking
Posted by: , November 19, 2018, 1:09 am
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Guiding Questions:

  1. How are students selected for enrollment in the ACT program? How does this process lead to such a limited represented demographic in the program? How does the test itself factor in, and why are teachers and parents choosing which children take it?
  2. What can be done to change the existing flaws in the selection process.

Potential Thesis: The methods used to choose and test students throughout their elementary years for participation in the ACT program contribute to the development of segregated academic tracks in the Carlisle Area School District through graduation.

Drafted Intro.: In 2017 there were sixty students enrolled in Carlisle High School’s gifted students program, out of around 1,500 total. Of those sixty students, only one was a person of color. Despite eight elementary schools pooling into the high school, and far more contributing transferring students, those enrolled came overwhelmingly from only two in the district, those being North Dickinson and Mooreland elementary schools, both unusually wealthy for the overall environment. These students were chosen through a seemingly simple process: teachers choose students who they deem unusually capable to be given an IQ test by one of the school’s guidance counselors. The counselor pulls them out of class, tests them, and if they score over 130 points they’re admitted into the program. There are some potential variations, including the ability of parents who believe their child could be eligible to pay for the delivery of the test and the ability of parents, again, to request a “re-test” of their child should they not place into the program the first time.

The academic “tracks” at Carlisle High School are also almost entirely segregated both by race and economic class. There are three tracks– Option One and Vocational Studies are for students planning on entering the work force immediately upon graduation. Option Two is referred to as the “college prep” track, in which there is the greatest racial and economic integration. This is the track which is meant to prepare students for entry into some variant on a higher education institution. The final track is the AP and Honors, meant for students who plan on attending a four year college or university, potentially followed by additional schooling. Many of the AP track classes require entry exams, letters of recommendation from other teachers and additional summer assignments. The tracks are not entirely rigid, and some students cross between them varying on subject lines, but most stay within one for all four years of high school. Students enrolled in elementary school with the ACT program almost exclusively enter on the AP and Honors track.

 

 



Introduction, Guiding Questions, and Thesis
Posted by: , November 19, 2018, 12:39 am
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Guiding Questions:

What role does the media serve in any conflict? How does that translate into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

How important are the words we use to describe current events and portray different sides? Ex: “terrorist” vs. “extremist”.

In what ways do headlines influence a reader? Is the order of information presented important? Is any omission of facts a violation of journalistic integrity?

What is journalistic integrity? What is fair journalism? Bias is inevitable, but how can it be limited?

 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the longest enduring modern day conflicts in the entire world. Given its complicated history and the lack of a clear solution, many people view this conflict as hopeless. Generations have tried, and time and time again, have failed to reconcile these two peoples. For those who do not live in the region, the news are the immediate source of information. The media keeps the public informed, educated, and opinionated. This is an immense responsibility: to serve as the bridge between the outside world and the conflict. The media is undoubtedly flawed, with bias playing a major role in the coverage of events that transpire. In a world of conflicting opinions and opposing narratives, where does one seek the truth? The headlines, words, and information presented by the media shapes international opinion on the conflict. Understanding how bias, false reporting, and agenda-based journalism shape public opinion is a vital part of understanding the long-standing Israeli Palestinian conflict.



Investigative Project: Literacy Across Cultures
Posted by: , November 18, 2018, 11:43 pm
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Guiding Questions:

  1. What are some of the literacy requirements for “non-western” nations and cultures?
  2. What are some of the different ways that literacy can be defined as?
  3. What was the impact of imperialism and forced assimilation on the literacy of other cultures?

The concept of literacy is an ever-changing entity. Its various interpretations allow for seemingly endless confusion and disparity when defining it across cultures. Nations have different understandings of literacy and what they determine as necessary for one to identify themselves as a literate individual. In the United States, literacy is defined as: the ability to read, write, and understand the information that one is taking in. However, in other countries such as Brazil, Israel, and Kenya it is defined slightly differently. For example, the Brazilian Geographical and Statistics Institute determines that literacy is a title for those who have “completed four grades of schooling.” Israel defines literacy as “the ability to acquire the essential knowledge and skills that enable individuals to actively participate in all the activities for which reading, and writing are needed.” The Kenyan government simply states that anyone who reports that they are able to read and write is considered literate. The different laws and requirements surrounding the literacy between nations and their respective cultures is significant because it sets the standard for the ways in which people carry out their daily lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Why history still matters today
Posted by: , November 18, 2018, 11:06 pm
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Coming across an article titled: “2018: Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, denies all claims related to the existence of the so-called “Comfort Women””, I was stunned. After the spark of the comfort station established by the Japanese military was brought into public attention in 1997, many evidences and testimonies of the former comfort women were put forth, in an attempt to demand for a proper apology and possible reparation from the Japanese officials for the horrendous past. Nevertheless, justice hasn’t been served. That’s why it still matters today to remind people of the history, in the slight hope for the restoration of the few survivors’ dignity and for shedding the light on the inhumane mistreatments these women had to receive.   

*Guiding Questions: 

  1. What are the testimonies of the former comfort women? Describe the conditions. 
  2. What is the Japanese governmental response to the accusation? The inequivalent reparation from the Japanese government? The total denial in the Prime Minister statement? 
  3. Describe the current attempt to fight for justice of the survivors. 
  4. What impacts does the past have on the present? Two-country relation, the trauma that next generation must deal with, ….?  
  5. Why it matters: the protest, the hostile feelings between two countries, the monuments, the coming-out-of-the-dark story, …? Why worth mentioning it after 86 years? 


“Backlash and Barriers” How Dickinson’s Co-Educational Movement Sparked Controversy
Posted by: , November 18, 2018, 10:35 pm
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Guiding questions: 

How did the movement towards co-education at Dickinson start? How quickly (or not) did admittance of women grow? 

How did Dickinson members react to gender integration? What resources did people use to voice their frustration/opposition?

What was the justification for co-education at Dickinson? 

What successes did female students achieve during their early years at Dickinson? How did they affect the college? 

What caused Dickinson to fully support co-education after years of opposition? How does gender integration “play out” in today’s context of the college? 

 

 Integration of women into higher education generated another milestone in the history of Dickinson College. 100 years after its establishment, the college admitted Zatae Longsdorff, the first woman to attend Dickinson (archives website). In the early years of integration, the community recognized the female students but still viewed the males as academically superior.  Following the increased arrival of women to campus, many members of the college refused to accept the rise in diversity. Students, faculty, alumni, and trustees expressed their concerns and frustrations through letters directed to the college’s administration. Nearly 20 years after the initiative, men (and some women) called for Dickinson to re-establish itself as an all-male institution. However, women proved to achieve greater academic success, which drew in defense from administration who supported the co-educational structure of the college. Struggles prevailed over women’s educational equality in the early 20th century, but women continued to contribute to the rich academic and social life of the college. Through various documents of community members, the attitudes and actions against co-education help to reveal their insecurities towards the rising statuses of women. Additionally, the cries of inequality from those who opposed integration fueled a resistance of young-women to achieve an equal education at Dickinson.  

 

 

 



Thesis, Intro, & Guiding Q’s
Posted by: , November 18, 2018, 10:18 pm
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Introduction

Our relationship to the internet as a society today is fundamentally different than it was at the beginning of the century. Rather than being a mere novelty or tool, the internet has become a core and crucial part of our lives as well as the primary medium for social discourse. However this brings with it two major problems. Firstly, the majority of the internet is composed of “private platforms”, websites that are owned by private entities such as individuals or companies. As such the owners of these private platforms are able to impose on the users of their website whatever terms of service they deem desirable. This is a problem because, while previously our public discourse was only restricted by the laws established by the government, now that such discourse occurs mostly on these “private platforms”, our speech is further limited by the rules established by the websites hosting our speech. These rules differ from platform to platform and frequently change with little accountability to the users affected by them. On private platforms, our right to free-speech does not apply. Secondly, while the internet has created a more informed public by allowing for instantaneous and global spread of information, not all of this information is trustworthy. “Fake news”, conspiracies, hate speech, calls for violence, extremist and divisive rhetoric, and other problematic media are just as easily shared and received as trustworthy media. This is a problem because many people fail to distinguish between the two and are susceptible to being misinformed and radicalized. Thus such media becomes “intolerable” and must be combated. However, currently the onus of solving the problem has fallen on the private platforms independently from one another. They have had little success and their efforts have been mired in controversy.  Private platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have been accused of bias primarily against right-wing groups or individuals who simply seek to promote “alternative” perspectives. When measures normally intended to stifle extremists are applied to more moderate voices, it is perceived by affected persons and their followers as constituting unfair attacks on their right to free-speech. To effectively solve the problem, a fair and universal method for classifying “intolerable” speech must be established as well as a standardized way of suppressing it and punishing those who spread it. Furthermore we as a society should revisit the First Amendment and our right to free speech, and consider “updating” and expanding it to reflect today’s online reality.

Guiding Questions:

Overall Question:

How should free-speech be treated online with specific focus on “intolerable” speech?

In-Depth Questions:

  1. What constitutes “intolerable speech” vs hate speech
    • Is all hate speech intolerable?
  2. What measures are appropriate to deal with such speech online?
    • Can a private platform “go too far” when attempting to combat intolerable speech made on its website?
      • If so, what constitutes such an example?
    • Can a “universal standard” be arrived at regarding classifying “intolerable speech” and applying fitting suppressive measures?
  3. How does this apply differently depending on the type of website in question?
    • “Mainstream” private platforms (ie. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, etc.)
      • Do they have “the right” to censor and ban certain speech they deem unacceptable? After all it is their own personal platform, that individuals must agree to terms of service before using.
    • Anonymous message/image boards such as 4chan
      • How should these sites be treated differently given their highly anonymous nature and how they cater to hate-speech?
    • Personal platforms/websites (a site you own) 
      • How are you responsible for the statements you make on your own website?
      • Those made by others?
      • Other individuals answering your “call to action”?
  4. How far do the protections of the first amendment reach?
    • Can they apply to speech made on private platforms or are they only intended to protect a person from the government?
    • Should these protections be expanded or “updated” to meet the reality of our “online society”?
  5. Are suppressive measures truly effective?
    • When certain sites are shut down or become too restrictive, people will often create or flock to other platforms.
      • In this manner the internet becomes something of a hydra, cut off one head, another one grows.
    • Given this, what measures are realistic?


Guiding Questions / Intro
Posted by: , November 18, 2018, 8:01 pm
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Guiding Questions:
– What was the role of the media during the Watergate era? How does that differ from the role of the media today?
– In a time where “fake news” is so relevant, would Woodward and Bernstein be able to accomplish what they had today?
– Are we again living in an era where we should be speculative of the government that leads our nation?
– With little trustworthy sources of information, how do we preserve the truth today?

Living in America during the era of Donald Trump has come to be accompanied with the term “fake news.” While this term in one sense is a title for Facebook clickbait that those unwilling to delve further mistake as truth, it is in another sense a tool thrown around by the executive administration to dissolve anything standing contrary to their success. The media is almost immediately dismissed. A question emerges of how dangerous this suppression is. Are the people losing their defense against potential corruption? Looking back at another era in which leadership was questionable, commonly known as the Watergate era, the role of the media is shown to be essential in the preservation of truth. Today, Woodward and Bernstein would be pushed away from accomplishing what they had. However, their role in the Watergate scandal of representing the people is the quintessence of what makes the media so important. To firmly understand why the American people must defend news outlets and push for the truth, one must reflect on the Watergate scandal and mirror the actions and motives of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.