A Wizard of Earthsea

In A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula Le Guin uses foreshadowing to create a sense of anticipation and develop an in-depth concept of what Duny will become throughout his journey. In the first paragraph of the book, Le Guin informs the reader that the story will be about “the man called Sparrowhawk, who in his day became both dragonlord and Archmage” (p.1). This information adds context to the story to make unbelievable or fantastic ideas more realistic. Furthermore, after Duny’s aunt “becomes a little afraid of his strength” after he laughs through her silence curse, “for this was as strong a spell as she knew how to weave” it foreshadows that Duny will needs to leave his villiage in order to reach his full potential. This creates excitement and incites the reader to continue reading. In conclusion, Ursula Le Guin uses forshadowing to keep her readers engaged and ensure that the readers will understand and believe the plot despite the magic and fantasy aspects.

A Wizard of Earthsea Anticipation Guide

I strongly disagree with the statement ‘A person or thing must have a name to truly exist’. As of the year 2000, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that as much of 95% of the world’s oceans and 99% of the world’s ocean floors are unexplored. There must be millions of aquatic organisms that haven’t been discovered or named yet. Although we haven’t named they, they still exist. Furthermore, as we continue to explore further into space we are identifying new stars and planets that were never named previously, however may have existed for millions of years. I also believe that unnamed concepts exist. Humans feel extremely complex emotions, that cannot be described by words. Simply descriptions such as ‘sad’ or ‘happy’ cannot exactly label the way that people perceive or feel certain things. Although we may not be able to name an emotion that we feel, it is still completely valid and very real. In conclusion, there are many things in the world that exist without names, however they still exist.

John Maxwell The 360 Degree Leader

The Talons program offers many different opportunities to practice leadership in safe and unique environments. These experiences are crucial in developing strong and long-lasting leadership skills. John Maxwell’s The 360 Degree Leader illuminates several critical concepts that will significantly improve one’s experience with leading and participating in the Talons program. The six leadership concepts that I believe are the most valuable to consider within the Talons program are:

 

  1. Lead yourself exceptionally well
  2. Be better tomorrow than you are today
  3. Avoid office politics
  4. Don’t pretend you’re perfect
  5. See everyone as a ‘10’
  6. Transfer the vision

 

  1. Lead Yourself Exceptionally Well

I believe that before you can lead others you must learn how to lead yourself. It is crucial to know, as a leader, when to display your emotions and when to wait to let your committee know how you feel. This is an extremely important concept in Talons because teenagers are more likely to take outbursts from their peers personally. When working with a group, it is important to consider how your words will make your team feel. It is also incredible important for leaders within the Talons program to manage their own time. Although a large part of leading is delegating tasks, leaders must be able to organize their own priorities and complete their own assignments before trying to keep others on task. This is incredible important in the Talons program because we all have individual assignments that we must complete on top of our committee work. I believe the most important aspect of self-management within the Talons program is managing your personal life. Teenagers tend to be very focused on the social and relationship aspect of high school. It is important to put any personal issues aside while leading a group of peers in order to avoid conflict. Furthermore, people respect those that remain composed and professional more than emotional and dramatic leaders. John Maxwell includes a very powerful quote in his book that I believe will be very helpful for Talons students:

 

“If I can’t lead myself, others won’t follow me.

If I can’t lead myself, others won’t respect me.

If I can’t lead myself, others won’t partner with me.”

 

2. Be Better Tomorrow Than You Are Today

The most important and relevant lesson within John Maxwell’s film and journal is to be better tomorrow than you are today. Talons is an extremely growth-oriented program that focuses on improving and learning from mistakes. Leaders with a growth mindset believe that their talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and help from others. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset because growth-oriented people worry less about looking smart and put more energy into learning. When an entire committee embraces a growth mindset, the members feel far more empowered and committed. They are also able to have much more beneficial discussions which leads to collaboration and innovation. When committees are focused on improvement, they have much more potential to succeed beyond their original expectations. In Talons, we are all passionate learners who are exploring our passions in new and unique ways. We must take both our accomplishments and our failures in stride as we continue to work towards being autonomous learners and strong leaders. After listening to John Maxwell discuss these concepts, I created a table to compare growth and fixed minded people.

 

Growth Minded People

See their mistakes as opportunities to grow

Focus on development

Thrive on improvement

 

Fixed Minded

See their mistakes as failures

Focus on results

Thrive on success

 

3. Avoid Office Politics

Avoiding ‘office politics’ can be extremely difficult in high school. This is why it is an extremely important concept to focus on within Talons. As a leader, it is crucial to prevent friendships and relationships from impacting decisions made by a committee. It is key to choose groups and assign tasks based on people’s talents rather than who they want to work with. Furthermore, avoiding peer pressure is very important. Leaders that rely on politics do what’s popular and let others control their destiny. It can be easy to allow our friends influence our decisions as leaders, especially when we respect their opinions. Total avoidance is not realistic, but it is important to not allow it to impact the way you lead. Leaders that are focused on politics are controlled by their desire to get ahead instead of a desire for success and cooperation. When a group focuses on integrity and productivity, they become much more successful. Within the classroom, the steps that John Maxwell included in his presentation for avoiding politics are very helpful. Avoiding gossip and petty arguments is crucial when creating a safe environment for everyone in a committee. Furthermore, looking at all sides of an argument to ensure that you are supporting what is right rather than what is popular is essential when problem solving in a group.

 

4. Don’t Pretend You’re Perfect

The Talons program was designed to give gifted learners an opportunity to explore their passions and develop the skills necessary to become an autonomous learner. As gifted students, many of us have extremely high expectations for ourselves that may be unrealistic in some circumstances. Leaders who try to portray themselves as perfect will not truly resonate or connect with their committee. Admitting to one’s flaws or weaknesses creates an environment of forgiveness and fosters growth in those around you. Furthermore, asking your committee for advice will make everyone feel included and important within the committee. This is important in Talons because, unlike in a workplace, we do not have a hierarchy of roles and jobs. In the Talons program, every single student has interesting and unique talents and background knowledge. The Learning Principle, which states that each person we meet has the potential to teach us something, is extremely value.

 

5. See Everyone As A ‘10’

The Talons community is extremely supportive of each of its members. As a result, it is important to maintain these attitudes while in a leading role. This is why one it is vital to see everyone as a “10”. The varying talents and skills within the Talons program make it very easy to identify people’s talents and recognize what they can become. People learn the most from leaders that see them as a 10. This is extremely important because mentorship is a key part of Talons. Everyone must feel comfortable and accepted and therefore it is vital for leaders in the talons community to believe in their peers.

 

6. Transfer The Vision

The students within the Talons program are constantly changing as some finish grade ten and others enter grade nine. The grade tens are often given the opportunity to mentor the grade nines and equip them with the skills necessary to lead the future Talons students. The grade tens must transfer the vision of the project or committee to the grade nines. When people are able to touch the past, they will be more inclined to reach for the future. This is exemplified through the use of old documents and pictures of events to bring power and continuity to casting a vision to the grade nines. Additionally, good visions tell people what they need to accomplish and why they should accomplish this. This form of communication is extremely valuable within the Talons community. Advertising cultural and leadership events to the grade nines at the beginning of the year is a quintessential example of using purpose to cast a vision.

LACE Interview Wise Nugs

My interview with Dr. Henry Docherty, a family physician that specializes in dermatology and skin cancer, has given me a much more informed idea of what it’s like to be a dermatologist. Much of the wisdom that I have acquired from him can be condensed into these three pieces of advice:

  1. When choosing a career that involves working outside of a scheduled time, it is important to consider the impact that it will have on your family and loved ones.

 

  1. One of the most difficult aspects of working within the medical field is being able to translate information from textbook scenarios and implement your knowledge and skills into a real, unpredictable situation.

 

  1. There will always be parts of your career that you will not enjoy, but it is important to remember the reasons why you chose to pursue that career and realize that every job comes with difficult or boring tasks.

Harrison Bergeron vs 2081

Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” takes place in an dystopian future in which, ironically, the government has implemented handicaps in an attempt to ensure that everyone is equal in skill, beauty, and opportunity. 2081, directed by Chandler Tuttle portrays a similar environment in with slight adaptations. Although both the original short story and the film adaptation give viewers and interesting lens to view the story from, the Kurt Vonnegut’s use of suspended moments and his ability to ‘show, not tell’ in his writing makes reading the story a much more effective medium for telling the “Harrison Bergeron” narrative.

One of the most impactful moments within “Harrison Bergeron” occurs during the rising action when Harrison Bergeron and his ‘empress’ dance together. During this scene, Vonnegut uses figurative language to create an extended moment and generate a feeling of suspense. When describing Harrison and the ballerina, Vonnegut says that they “neutralized gravity with love and pure will,”. The use of such graceful and serene figurative language makes the tone of the story seem eerily calm; a perfect, almost romantic moment frozen in time. This expanded moment draws the reader into a false sense of security right before a shocking incident, Harrison and the ballerina getting shot, jolts the story back up to tempo. In the story, the only thing that is described during this moment is the moment shared between Harrison Bergeron and the ballerina, whereas in the movie, we can see Diana Moon and many armed men entering the theatre as Harrison and the ballerina dance. This spoils any feeling of suspense and destroys the impact of the juxtaposition of such a calm moment and the suddenness of Diana Moon shooting bother Harrison and his empress.

Another reason that the book is more impactful than the movie is the implied past. In the book, George tells Hazel that he won’t take off his physical handicap because “if [he tried to get away with it, […] then other people’d get away with it – and pretty soon we’d be right back to the dark ages” whereas in the movie George’s reason is that if he took off the lead beads he’d want to keep them off, and that wouldn’t do anyone any good. The implication that the reason for the government controlling everyone is social uprising or revolution that caused chaos adds depth to the plot and allows the reader to make inferences about this seemingly post-apocalyptic future. This is a quintessential example of ‘showing not telling’ that adds depth to a story. In the movie, there is less room to make inferences, as there is no information given about why everyone has mental and physical handicaps. This makes the messages portrayed in the film less effective.

Through his incredibly thought-provoking short story, “Harrison Bergeron”, Kurt Vonnegut uses suspended moments and the art of ‘showing not telling’ to portray a deep, serious theme in a simple plot with many dark undertones. Although the film, 2081, directed by Chandler Tuttle, somewhat replicates this tone, the short story is a much more effective medium for telling the story. That being said, both the film and the short story were very enjoyable and offered interesting perspectives on an intriguing concept.

Introducing Mia Hamm

Mia Hamm playing for the U.S. Women's National Team

Mia Hamm playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team

I have played soccer since I was five years old; it has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was a child I’ve idolized professional the men’s soccer players that I’ve seen on television: Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Buffon, Antoine Griezmann, and many more. however, I have been especially inspired by the few female players that are given an opportunity to be in the spotlight. Mia Hamm is one of the most influential female soccer players of all time. Her passion and successes have encouraged me to become a better soccer player and teammate. At the age of fifteen, she became the youngest player to ever play on a U.S. national soccer team. During her 17 years on the U.S. women’s national soccer team, Hamm won the Women’s World Cup in 1991 and 1999 and won Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2004. She also held the record for most international goals scored by any player until June 2013.

Mia Hamm working with young female soccer players through her foundation

Mia Hamm working with young female soccer players through her foundation

Mia Hamm will be remembered for increasing awareness for female athletes and encouraging young girls to pursue their passions in sports. In 1999, Mia Hamm founded the Mia Hamm foundation, which is dedicated to developing increased opportunities for young women to participate in sports. In 1996, Mia Hamm lost her brother to a rare blood disease called aplastic anemia. This tragedy severely impacted her life, and ultimately led to her creating the Mia Hamm Foundation which, along with supporting female athletes, promotes awareness and raises funds for families in need of bone marrow or cord blood transplants. Through her foundation, Mia Hamm shows us that she wants young women to have equal opportunity in sports and fears that girls will not have the opportunity to pursue their passions. She also shows us that she wants to help families with people who are suffering from blood related diseases and fears that other people will have to go through the grief that she did when her brother passed away. Although many people have heard of Mia Hamm, very few understand the extent of the impact that she has had on the culture of Western sports. As one of the most decorated female athletes of the century, Mia Hamm is the quintessential example of a strong, eminent woman fighting against prejudice to not only succeed but also to inspire others to do so as well.

mia-hamm-2“The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when nobody else is looking.”
– Mia Hamm

Mia Hamm hosting her annual Celebrity Soccer Challenge charity exhibition game to raise money for her foundation

Mia Hamm hosting her annual Celebrity Soccer Challenge charity exhibition game to raise money for her foundation

Mia Hamm and I share many qualities other than our first name. We are both very driven and passionate people who strive for excellence in whatever we do. Mia Hamm also has immense humility, despite her many accomplishments, and doesn’t like to talk about her successes, which is a trait that I share with her. Mia Hamm exemplifies many of my own personal goals in TALONS. Her determination to go against societal norms and expectations by choosing a career as a female athlete represents my goal to pursue my creative and unique passions as an autonomous learner rather

Mia Hamm and her brother, Garret

Mia Hamm and her brother, Garret

than just simply the grade 10 curriculum. Although Mia Hamm and I share many of the same passions and interests, her young life was significantly impacted by the death of her brother. I have never experienced such personal grief, so I will address this barrier in my speech I will be sure to use the information from the book that Hamm wrote to get insight into her emotions and experiences surrounding this tragic event.

 

 

The Danger of a Single Story Response

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story” reveals that stereotypes are incomplete assumptions often perpetuated in the media that people tend to blindly believe. Becoming aware of this issue is critical to developing an open mind and is necessary when creating our own personal values and beliefs. We may begin to reject the single stories in our lives by withholding absolute judgements until we have experienced the subject first-hand, or gathered information from several, trustworthy sources. When Chimimanda first moved to the United States, her American roommate was taken aback by her ability to speak English, her understanding of basic household appliances, and her seemingly Westernized taste in music. After spending a few years in the United States, Chimamanda began to understand why her hapless roommate would make such strong assumptions about her. She reflects that “if [she] hadn’t grown up in Nigeria […] [she] too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves and waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner.” (5:44). This highlights the fact that Chimamanda’s roommate made assumptions about African people based on the portrayal of Africa in American media, such as charity advertisements. She admits that the only reason that she has an accurate idea of typical African cultures and lifestyles is because she had lived in Africa and experienced it herself. Chimamanda experienced the same problem from the opposite perspective when she travelled to Mexico. At the time, political tension between the United States and Mexico were high, and there were many negative stereotypes about Mexican people being perpetuated in the news within the United States. When Chimamanda arrived, she felt a “feeling of slight surprise.”, because the joyful, pleasant people that she saw didn’t match the prefabricated image in her head of the devious criminals and immigrants that she had heard about (8:42). This is another quintessential example of needing to witness a primary example of something in order to make an accurate judgement or assumption about it. In general, people make assumptions based on their personal experiences. As a result, the best way to get an accurate judgement of something is to experience it first-hand. That being said, it is unreasonable to assume that one will be able to experience everything that they will be judging in person, and as a result, they are forced to use other people’s accounts to create their own judgements and inferences. This becomes an issue because people can consciously or subconsciously alter the truth based on their own values and beliefs. Because of this, it is important to receive information from as many sources as possible to fully understand the objective data that you are making assumptions about.

Independent Novel Study Part One: The Catcher in the Rye

The classic novel, The Catcher in the Rye, follows the self-narrated story of a young man named Holden Caulfield. During the first third of the book, Holden’s attractive and self-satisfied roommate Stradlater goes out a date with Jane Gallagher, a girl whom Holden used to be very close with and whom he still cares about. While Stradlater and Jane are out together, Holden grows increasingly nervous about Stradlater’s intentions. When Stradlater returns Holden asks him persistently about whether or not he made any sexual advances towards Jane. He refuses to answer, and Holden finally snaps and punches Stradlater. I was not impressed by Holden’s impulsive decision to resort to violence while dealing with this conflict. Holden claims that he doesn’t remember the exact events that occurred when he decided to stand up and fight Stradlater. He explains, “This next part I don’t remember so hot. All I know is I got up from the bed, […] and then I tried to sock him, with all my might, right smack in the toothbrush, so it would split his goddam throat open.” (pg. 43). This leads me to infer that Holden has a tendency to release his pent-up emotions in a blind rage. This seemingly small and unimportant argument pushed Holden over the edge and caused him to break down after bottling up his frustration and discontent with his life and the people around him. Holden’s agitation about Stradlater and Jane highlights his innocence and sensitivity about sexual matters and relationships. While fighting after the date, Holden tells Stradlater that “he didn’t even care if a girl kept all her kings in the back row or not, and the reason he didn’t care was because he was a goddam stupid moron.” (pg. 44). Stradlater’s date with Jane doesn’t just make him jealous; it frustrates him to think of a girl he knows well being intimate with a boy she doesn’t know well. Holden believes that intimate relationships should happen between people who care deeply about and respect one another. This scene made me infer that Holden wants to be exposed to adult experiences, such as relationships; however, he fears to become disingenuous, or ‘phony’ as he calls it, and less emotionally invested in these experiences as he matures. In this situation, Holden is experiencing an external conflict with Stradlater because they do not share the same values and beliefs in regard to sexual relationships. That said, the reasons that their disagreement escalated into a physical fight are the many internal conflicts that Holden is facing, such as the grief he is feeling after his brother passed away and his overall discontent with his life. I believe that the development of Holden’s character is very believable. His brother’s death has seriously damaged his emotional and mental health, which somewhat justifies his reckless and emotional response to a sense of jealousy and injustice. That being said, I would have preferred it if Holden was able to release his emotions in a less harmful and more effective way, such as finding a friend or family member to talk to, although I understand this may be unrealistic due to his personality and the societal norms of the time that he lived in. Holden is not a character that should be emulated because he is dealing with emotional trauma and dissatisfaction with his life, which has caused him to make many poor, rash decisions. Despite this, I have found many personal connections to Holden’s internal conflicts. Although Holden is still a naïve teenager, he tends to see the world in a very ‘adult’ way. As a result, he is often brooding, sarcastic, and cynical about life in general. My parents have always deemed me as an ‘old soul’, and as a result, I also find myself viewing the world in a skeptical or pessimistic way in many situations. Additionally, Holden deals with his anger very impulsively, and I feel as though I often act rashly when I am upset as well; however, I tend to express my irritation differently than Holden as I tend to release my frustration verbally whereas Holden chose to use physicality. In conclusion, Holden Caulfield is an extremely emotional person who has experienced significant loss, which has caused him to release his anger very intensely. Nevertheless, he is still just an inexperienced teenage boy who is worried about growing up and losing his identity and genuineness.

Emil

People are born with the natural instinct to make assumptions about everything we encounter. Oftentimes, we make judgements about people that are unique or different. One group of people that are commonly misjudged due to their circumstance or appearance are homeless people. Stuart McLean’s Emil revolves around the relationship between a woman named Morley and a homeless man named Emil. Through their interactions, Morley begins to learn that happiness and fulfillment are subjective, and that we cannot simply judge a person by their lifestyle choice or outside appearance. Emil lives a minimalistic life; he doesn’t care about materialistic possessions or his appearance. Despite this, he is happy with what he has and is content with his living situation. Throughout the story, Morley becomes aware of this concept and learns that she should not judge Emil for his beliefs and values. We see evidence that Emil is content with his lifestyle when Morley gives him five dollars on the street and he gives her three dollars back, telling her ““That’s too much.”” (pg. 111). Even when he is presented with a much larger amount of money after winning the lottery, Emil still chooses to “[give] it to his regulars – people who [give] him money. Or [stop] to talk to him.” (pg. 118). Emil is not interested in having lots of money or owning a house and a car. In fact, when the television that Emil buys with his $10,000 are stolen from him he simply says, “It’s OK. […] The battery was going anyway, and it only got Canadian channels.” (page 120). When Morley learns that Emil is stealing flowers from gardens in the neighbourhood to create his own garden, she realizes that Emil find his happiness in ways that don’t revolve around money. After learning more about Emil’s values, she tries to improve his life in ways that he will enjoy. For example, buys him grape hyacinth bulbs for his garden such as the grape hyacinth bulbs and plants them in his garden, “thinking as she scrapes at the hard dirt in Emil’s box that they will come in the spring and surprise him.” (121). In conclusion, Morley’s relationship with Emil teaches her that we cannot judge people based on their lifestyle because success and happiness are different for everyone based on their values and beliefs.

Star Wars Blog Post

While watching Star Wars: A New Hope, I found exploring the plot through the gender lens to be extremely empowering. This iconic film depicts a microcosm of how women were portrayed in pop culture during the 1970s. Although Princess Leia is depicted as somewhat of a ‘hero’ throughout the story, many occurrences of unnecessary objectification are highlighted while viewing the movie through the gender lens. Princess Leia is objectified and romanticised by every man that she encounters during the movie. For example, when Luke sees Leia for the first time in the hologram projected by R2-D2, his initial reaction is to comment on her beauty, rather than the message she is carrying. Additionally, when Leia is brought to Governor Wilhuf Tarkin before her scheduled execution, he caresses her face and calls her pet-names such as ‘princess’ and ‘sweetheart’. This is a quintessential example of a strong woman’s abilities being overlooked due to her femininity and appearance. Furthermore, the condescending nature of many of the prominent men throughout the film brought to light the ‘glass ceiling’ that women in power face. Despite Leia’s intelligence and bravery in escaping her prison cell and the group of Stormtroopers unscathed, Han Solo reprimanded her for almost getting them killed, and told her to follow his directions from then on. This shows us that women in power are limited in their ability to fight for their rights and beliefs. As the only other female in the film, Luke’s Aunt characterises the stereotypical role of a woman within a family. Although she dies quite early in the movie, in the time that she is shown she can be seen cooking and cleaning whereas Luke’s uncle harvests parts of droids for a living. This perpetuates the idea that women should dedicate their time to completing household chores and taking care of her family while their husbands work and earn money. It is crucial to watch Star Wars from the gender lens to fully grasp the intentions of the film. I believe that the creators of Star Wars intended to go against the stereotypes and norms of female protagonist by portraying Princess Leia as a strong and courageous character who fights for what she believes in. That being said, there were still are many underlying themes of misogyny and sexism. For these reasons, I believe that Star Wars reveals the concept that women in power may be viewed as incapable or indecisive which drastically alters their ability to lead. However, there are also many stereotypes within this film that could be harmful towards men. For example, Han Solo’s fragile masculinity was detrimental to his career and his relationships with others. If I was to watch Star Wars: A New Hope again, I would scrutinize the plot for stereotypical male behaviour, and take note of the different ways that men are portrayed throughout the movie.