PART A – Selection: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
a. Steinbeck has chosen to give me a narrative story of the Joad family, who must move to California due to the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. Through the story, he enforces the flaws of American society and allows the reader to truly connect with the poor farmers of the age.
b. Steinbeck has enforced the flaws of American society (specifically the farming industry in California), as well as how families must struggle due to the situation at the time. He does this by effectively using a narrative style as well as intercalary chapters to give the reader a good sense of the economic status of many farmers and to connect the rather didactic history lesson to the reader by introducing the Joad family’s struggles.
c. Steinbeck has chosen to use relatively simple language in this book, perhaps so his message could be reached by not only adults, but children as well. He often uses almost an excess of imagery in his intercalary chapters (but this is also what makes the book so great) which allows the reader to truly understand the situations occurring in the age. This is evident as Steinbeck comments, “…and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.” One can clearly picture the “grapes of wrath” growing on their vines, and by reading the rest of the intercalary chapter, can understand the rationale behind it. It sparks an emotional response, for one is able to better connect with the story’s main characters and one can almost slip past the boundary of sympathy and nudge at the border of empathy. As far as instilling values, while using simple language, Steinbeck is able to distill into the reader the flaws of American society without fail, due to repetition and imagery. Since the book is a novel, there were no images, save for the cover page. On it is a long line of cars moving along route 66, showing the reader the sheer number of people that were displaced during the age to flee to somewhere they hoped would give them a better life (oh how they were wrong). *below is a picture of the cover
d. The purpose of this book is to show the reader the flaws of American society not everyone may notice. As a member of the Lost Generation, Steinbeck was part of the group of writers who felt especially damned and forsaken, and chose to write novels exposing the flaws of society.
From a young child, my mother and father have always told me to respect and appreciate books, and I would always get a good lecture if my foot even accidentally nudged one. Thus, although the Gutenberg Parenthesis makes several good points, I cannot come to accept this principle. No matter what, books will always be something to treasure and I cannot imagine myself tearing up or even stepping on a book.
As far as if books actually “hold learning,” I do not really think this is completely true. Although books are an amazing resource for knowledge, without an entity to read and understand the information, it is almost as if the book were never there in the first place. So, I feel the readers are what determine if the book “holds learning” for if the book is read and understood, then yes, the book holds knowledge important to the reader. However, if the book is never read, although the book may hold information, it can never hold learning.
As far as sources go for information, I classify books, teachers and experience to be my greatest sources. As a student, I would like to think that the information my teachers are giving me is accurate for I do not want to be doubting my professor’s capability. I recognize they have gone through a lot of school in order to get to the position they are at now, and I feel undermining them without due cause is unfair. Also, as a person that loves books, I would like to think that books are a great source. In any essay where one needs to evaluate the sources they have used, books are always listed as trustworthy, for they must go through an entire process before being published. Last but certainly not least, i consider experience to be one of my greatest sources for information. As many say, “there is no greater teacher than experience,” and I feel I can relate and agree with this quote very well. Often times, just studying a topic or understanding the concept is not enough. One must go out and do something for themselves in order to truly understand and appreciate the information.
According the Mohammed Youssef, there are five stages of Knowledge and Wisdom in Arabic. If I were to relate this concept in a simple manner, the first thing which comes to mind is math, which one must do in steps (according the all the math teachers I have had anyways). The first step is described as information one has just learned, and in my case that would be arithmetic series. Although relatively easy, it is still a new topic, and after only one day of class, I cannot truly say I am comfortable with it. The second and third stages are slight improvement on each other as well as the first step, so in math that may be something I learned earlier this year. Because I have had lots of practice with it and have even taken tests on the concepts, I feel relatively comfortable with the material. As for the fourth step, this is material I am very familiar with but not exactly an expert on. I would describe this as material from last year, MYP5 for we used the material for the entire year, and I did very well on the final exam. The fifth and final step is the step before wisdom, and I would have to place simple mathematics (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) into this category, for from a young age, I had been exposed to this math and still use it on a daily basis in everyday life as well as in every mathematical concept I learn. Thus, I would need to consider my fifth step in math.
An example of experiential knowledge I have is through my various travels. By traveling to various countries (Italy, Japan, Turkey, Egypt, Thailand, China, Canada, Vatican City, etc…) I have experienced first hand their culture and traditions, which I feel will stick much better than if I were to simply read about it in a book. I believe these experiences have allowed me to become more open minded, and I would definitely not be the same person without my travels.
Examples of procedural memories I have mostly involve sports. This means tennis, water polo, hopefully basketball, running, swimming, and the like. This is more muscle memory, and involves honing one’s skills in the various activities.
If asked about a knowledge claim, I can spout a random fact about proteins on the spot. For example, the optimal pH level of most enzymes in humans in 6-8. This is more information learned, that one can spit out easily.
I believe a knowledge claim is the easiest to learn, for it is almost like rote memorization. Although I understand that this type of memory can be challenging for some, I am the type of person that memorized 84 digits of pi in 6th grade, and thus this type of knowledge comes easily to me. However, although knowledge claims seem to be the easiest to learn, I feel experiential knowledge sticks the most. I am a firm believer in actually applying the concepts one is learning in order to not forget them, and feel this is a great way to have something stuck in one’s head. When one experiences something, the experience is unforgettable. Growing up in a family promoting experience via travel, courage and the occasional mud puddle, I truly believe that experience is a great teacher and the lessons learned will stick with one the longest.
The article is about six types of learning: behaviorism, cognitivism, pragmatism, constructivism, social constructivism, and connectivism. Behaviorism deals with influences behavior. Cognitivism deals with learning as information processing. Pragmatism is about learning by doing. Constructivism is about experiential learning. Social constructivism deals with constructivism but through more of a social lens, meaning one needs to collaborate with others. Finally, connectivism deals with learning which happens in organizations.
Although I think all types of learning are essential in life, there are a few that would be most beneficial to the school environment. For example, in any school setting, cognitivism is necessary in order to remember all of the information covered. Also, many teachers attempt to use pragmatism by having their students do activities to have them learn the material. Although I think all types of learning are present in the curriculum, certain types of learning are more common than others.
Procedural memory: memory learned through practice. ex… sports requires procedural memory in the form of muscle memory, for players must be able to acquire various skills in order to excel at their sport. *below is a picture of sports things…
Working memory: type of short term memory that deals with linguistic and perceptual processing.
Long-term: information which can be accessed at any time. This information is remembered for long periods of time, and is usually general information.
Declarative memory: memory one can “declare.” For example, the first few digits of pi are: 3.1415926535897932384626… (that’s all I can remember).
Episodic memory: memories which encompass various aspects of one’s life.
Coherence (based on other claims you believe), correspondence (must match the evidence) and pragmatic (apply effectively in practice), are all used within the IB curriculum. In every class, teachers constantly attempt to find connections between what the student knows, attempts to show them how to prove it, and then allows them to use it in real life, in order for the student to understand what they had learned.
In TOK, we abandon the “true for me” train of thought and pursue the “true for all” mentality. By doing so, we are able to broaden our perspectives and think of people besides ourselves. Even if something might be true for me, it does not necessarily make it true for everyone, and it is not correct to force my views upon others unwillingly.
The difference between being sincere and being right is that sincerity can be completely wrong. As long as the person completely believes the wrong answer, they are still sincere for they do not know any better. Being right just means that the person is correct factually.
The difference between making a false statement and lying is that making a false statement is when a person is simply incorrect in their statement. They often do not mean harm by their answer and simply made a mistake. Lying on the other hand is meant to deceive the person being lied to, and is often a conscious decision.
There are various factors which may play a role in the areas of knowledge. These include memories, emotions, intuition, faith and revelation. Although I believe most types of justification are valuable at some point, there are some subjects in which they will not work. For example, in a science class (such as HL Chemistry and Biology for me) emotion is not necessarily a good reason for thinking something. In science, if one would like to show something above reasonable doubt, every step of the process must be recorded, and the rationale for the actions must be described. Thus, just feeling something is right or accepting something as wrong without justification does not really work. However, in classes such as TOK, I feel it is alright to have feelings one cannot fully explain. If you feel something, instead of questioning it, simply follow it and see where it leads you. Although I have only explained about one type of justification, similar explanations follow for the other types of justification as well, and while most work well in certain classes, they do not function as well in others. This being said, I feel each type of justification has its merits and one should not count one out just because it does not necessarily have proof, or trust.
PART O (last part – be happy)
Topic chosen: recent chapter in HL Bio: proteins
Source: As my source of information was Dr. P, I can firmly state that she is an example of a good source. Besides wanting us all to pass our IB tests, I feel she does not have any motive for deception. Also, from past experience, I feel she has a perfect streak of being honest and accurate, and many of her previous students can attest to that as well. Furthermore, I feel I have never seen Dr. P under the influence, and probably never will. As far as her credentials, she has a Ph.D. in biology, so I feel she has the skills to teach a high school biology course. Also, the information she teaches us is consistent with the IB course textbook, and none of the information has ever been countered. Lastly, Dr. P is the first to acknowledge if she does not know the most in-depth information about a topic, and thus feel she is able to acknowledge the limitations of her own knowledge.
Statements: The context Dr. P teaches does not seem to be meant for persuasion, but rather just to inform the students about Biology. She keeps personal views silent (if there is even room for them in a science course) and does not speak negatively about any of the content. Any visual content she uses in out of the textbook, and involve diagrams of chemical reactions, and I do not feel as though that is emotionally stimulating in any way. All of her claims are backed by the textbook, and her words and the words of the textbook never contradict each other.
Self: Because I am a person of logic, I feel an inclination to want to believe the information that Dr. P is giving us. However, since the unit we have just finished is Biochemistry, I am able to use my knowledge acquired through my HL Chemistry to support my learning in Biology. I feel it is easy in a science class to separate personal beliefs and convince others that the information I have learned is true. Although I do not like admitting this, I sometimes feel that in science it is more of a, “should believe.” Since at this point I am not familiar enough with the content to conduct my own studies, I simply need to take the information given to me as truth, and since this is a school class, I feel I should believe the information I am being told.