Literacy and Liberty

To accept or To tolerate?
Posted by: , November 14, 2018, 3:25 pm
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(note, this is the first poem I’ve written in years)


“I can tolerate those who are different from me” one may say 

Or, “I can accept those who are different from me”. 

When we tolerate, we project the thought of acceptance 

And lose the effect of action. 

When we accept, we project the thought of tolerance 

And add the effect of respect.  

Both tolerance and acceptance are recognized in society 

Yet people fail to differentiate between the two.  


As you tolerate groups you fail to see them as people 

For they are only recognized by their differences. 

As you accept groups you accomplish to see them as people 

For they can be recognized by their differences. 

The two terms are ambiguous 

How do we decide their uses? 


If we promote tolerance 

Then should we tolerate those who refuse to accept? 

If we promote acceptance 

How should we move past tolerance? 

Should we tolerate school shooters? 

Should we accept people who tolerate school shooters? 


Too often, people tolerate crimes against innocent blacks 

Yet, refuse to accept the wrong-doings of the officers. 

Too often, people tolerate mass incarcerations of blacks 

Yet, refuse to accept their innocence.  

In both instances, both tolerance and acceptance 

Are construed to fit the beliefs of the person. 


 Where do we go from here? 

Do we punish those who tolerate? 

Do we punish those who do not accept? 

Or, can we educate on their differences 

And the appropriateness of their uses? 

Or, do we continue to sit in the shadows 

And continue to watch the ignorance of others 

While we refuse to accept our own ignorance 

And fail to educate each other. 











Specialized Vocabularies
Posted by: , November 14, 2018, 1:26 pm
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Throughout high school, my roommates came from all over the place. I had one from the U.A.E., one from New Delhi, one from West Virginia, but the one that I was closest too was my junior year roommate from The Bahamas. I noticed quickly that he always spoke to me in the exact same way all my other friends did, but once he got on the phone with one of his parents, it was like he was almost speaking another language. It wasn’t after hearing this several times that I finally asked him about it. People in the Bahamas speak English, but they speak a dialect of English that eliminates the end of most words that end in vowels and forgoes the verb “to be” in almost every case. Along with that, there were phrases and idioms that I had never heard anyone but him use. It really threw me off the first time he shouted “Mudda sick,” which I eventually figured out meant something along the lines of you’ve gotta be kidding me.

It all seemed kind of novel to me until I went home with him one summer, I might as well have been an elementary schooler learning phrases and new meanings in the language I had always known, I mean who uses the phrase “spry” to mean sprinkling rain?  On my flight home I started thinking about how we think of people native to other countries as frequently switching languages at home and every  and again we remember that African Americans code switch often, but ever since my trip the Bahamas I have been wondering about all of the other versions of English I haven’t heard yet.

Great Britain Feminist Dissent During WWI
Posted by: , November 12, 2018, 6:22 pm
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I am writing my investigative project on Dissent during WWI in Britain. In Britain before WWI, war was thought of as a game, and a great honor. Most citizens believed the war was necessary, to protect the country from ‘barbaric’ Germans. Two of the most famous women dissenters during the war, were Charlotte Despard and Sylvia Pankhurst. Meanwhile, there were powerful men who were conscientious objectors. These dissenters all had turns in jail. I have several questions that I have to narrow down into a focus. I want to understand how the dissent during the war changed people’s minds. Specifically, did the dissent change the narrative of the war effort in the government? Did dissenting opinions reflect the opinions of the public? How did dissenting opinions target the issue? How did dissenting works change people’s minds? How did the dissent influence the narrative after the war? How did the dissent influence different groups of people? What kind of dissent was most effective? I remember one form of dissent that particularly struck me. During the war, there were two options for writing home. Either have your letter censored, and if it’s radical, not sent home, or circle one of a set of options on a pre-written card. One CO who was being taken to be killed for refusing to fight, chose the automatic card, and circled the letters to spell out a message saying where he was.

Investigative Project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 10:05 pm
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For my investigative project I want to focus on the education system in Carlisle Area School District, specifically the ways that we teach children to read and the way that (as little as a year later) they’re selected by teachers for participation in the schools’ gifted programs. I’m focusing on it because I have an interest in the ways that some children get pushed out of higher level academic tracking opportunities in public schools (the fact that your parents can pay for you to be tested is problematic) and the class divides that paid academic opportunities encourage. I’m interested in the process of teaching students how to read because it’s something that I have a personal curiosity in as a result of my own rather negative experiences. My questions on that side of things revolve around how quickly we teach kids to read, when we start leveling them off into higher and lower level reading groups, which schools reach state expectations for reading levels and why/ how.

I want to explore these questions on two different fronts (for the two different main questions). For the CASD-specific questions of how children are selected and why, I’m planning on doing a lot of interviewing with school officials and drawing on my own experience and the experiences of other students who either were in or are in the program. For the ‘how we teach kids to read’ question there’s a much more significant body of academic research that I can pull from before maybe sitting in on classes or interviewing teachers.

Investigative Project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 5:56 pm
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The internet has completely transformed communication. Ideas can be expressed, spread, and accessed on a global scale, instantaneously. This has allowed for the development of an interconnected and informed global mass. However this is not an inherently good thing, as social networks and internet forums, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, are discovering. By necessity, some opinions that will be spread on these networks will be perceived as “disagreeable” or even dangerous. “Fake news”, conspiracies, hate speech, calls for violence, and other content which are considered by many to be toxic and divisive, pose a problem for platform providers. In many cases, these platforms choose to address the problem by censoring such content and silencing the voices that spread it.

Unfortunately, it is not always clear what constitutes hateful or extreme rhetoric. The result of this is that many users which simply seek to promote alternative perspectives are being cast in the same lot as those who produce far more radical content. When measures normally intended to stifle extremists are applied to more moderate voices, it is perceived by affected persons and their followers as constituting biased political attacks on their right to free-speech and their ability to participate in the free-market of ideas. This runs counter to the ideals of inclusivity many such internet platforms are based on.

In light of this, we must ask ourselves difficult questions such as, what is free-speech, what constitutes “intolerable” rhetoric, and how far do the protections of the First Amendment go?


Investigative Project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 4:37 pm
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My friend wrote a short article for the Washington Post called “I am 18. I belong to the massacre generation.”  In her depressing article, she discusses some of the largest mass shootings in her life time.  She begins the article by stating that her mother knew that the world would be a different place for Julia after 9/11.  It is a brilliant and poignant article about gun violence, one of the hottest topics in the U.S. at the moment.  I, myself, have been interested in this controversial subject for quite a while and would like to do some research on the issue.  In my essay, I would like to discuss school shootings, and their impact on students’ mentality, morale, and their ability to learn.  I think what I want to do is first focus on a single event, then go more broad throughout the essay.  I definitely want to go more in depth on this issue because of its prevalence in the U.S. today.

Media in the Israeli Palestinian Conflict
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 4:32 pm
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In any conflict, the role of the media (both domestic and international) serves as a bridge between the outside world and the people involved in the conflict. The long standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the subject of extensive international scrutiny and coverage. This year, the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem was one of the most widely covered events in international politics. I’d like to dive into the role of the international media in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. How do factors such as bias, misinformation, and reporting with an agenda factor into international opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?  I want to analyze a variety of sources that depict both an Israeli and a Palestinian perspective. I want to gain a better understanding of the impact of journalism in this conflict. What we write, and how we write has a powerful impact on public opinion. The facts that are included and the narratives that are portrayed from this conflict are so important. As a Jew who has family and friends in Israel, I have a vested interest in understanding this conflict and where it is headed in the future. The role of the media is an essential part of it and I would like to develop my own opinion as well as gain a better understanding of the role of the media as a whole.

Investigative project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 4:14 pm
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After reading Nikole Hannah Jones’ stories about African American education problem, I start to think about education problem that Chinese immigrants group is currently facing. The textual analysis of Mother Tongue that I worked on shows how the stereotype that American society puts on Chinese immigrants limits their possibility of live. For example, Amy Tan mentioned that she was steered away from literature and almost walked into engineering area by her teacher and boss. In my investigative essay, I am going to start with talking about Chinese immigration trend and the phenomenon that Asian American group emphasizes education so much. According to the survey, Asian American group has to make the most effort but the least probability of getting into Ivy League school comparing with other minority like Latino and African American. In my essay I am going to explore the reasons behind this problem. Other than that, as increasing number of Asian kids staying in states after years of studying, I would compare the difference of Chinese education system and American education system. The political, economic and cultural reasons supporting these two systems would be interesting to write about as well.

Investigative Project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 4:04 pm
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On the spirit of the women’s ongoing fight for their equality, one story must be shed light on. During the World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army spread its terror throughout the world. The soldiers were vicious and unstoppable; they conquered and defeated everything standing their way. Besides their notoriously ferocious attacking method, they were also known for causing other kind of commotions anywhere they set foot on: the rape crime committed by Japanese personnel was extremely high with the instance of the Rape of Nanjing where estimate of 40,000 to 300,000 Chinese civilians were subjected to rape and looting. To prevent the rise of hostility among people in the occupied areas and to prevent the atrocities like the Nanjing event, the military correspondence decided to open comfort stations. Here come the stories of comfort women, who were kidnapped and taken away from their homes, then forced into sexual slavery by Japanese Army in the occupied territories. As I take a closer look, the revelation of the brutal mistreatments, horrendous dehumanization and terrible living conditions that these girls and women had to put up with needs to be brought into the more people’s attention the better. 

Investigative Project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 3:06 pm
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A question I have always wondered is how skills as simple as reading and writing were not known by everyone around the world. How literacy rates were higher in some regions and lower in others. My investigation will focus on illiteracy in Sub-Saharan Africa. Africa is the only continent in the world with illiteracy rates above 50% with the exception of Afghanistan. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular includes countries with illiteracy rates that are above 60, 70, and 80%. I would like to investigate why literacy in this region is such a problem, what initiatives they have taken to increase literacy rates, and how those programs are meant to work. I expect my investigation will involve researching the economies of Sub-Saharan countries, the availability of schools, attendance rates of schools in the region, and government spending. I would also like to investigate how illiteracy impedes on the ability of these countries to develop.