I was intrigued by both passages that we read over the weekend, particularly the one on critical thinking and its levels. Though the first reading on antagonism presented some ideas in a new way, most of these ideas were things I already knew. For example, I could have inferred that competition in the classroom can cause drawbacks and not allow students to reach their fullest potential. One question that the passage raises, however, is how do we find the balance between competitive learning and effective collaboration between classmates?
The reading on critical thinking is what I was most interested in, especially the aspect of categorizing the four levels of critical thinking. I never would have said that a ten month old baby could be a critical thinker, but the author states that they are already in the earliest stages of critical thinking. How can critical thinking skills be integrated into early curriculum? Furthermore, how can we incorporate aspects of all four levels of critical thinking in classroom discussions?
For my self-portrait, I opted for a poem. Done in the style of a blackout poem, I chose the words “look with open eyes and ask a million questions.” I feel this poem represents my curiosity about the world around me and my enthusiasm to learn more about it. Instead of just blacking out the other words, I decided to use colors to make a design, which serves both to direct the flow of the poem and to represent my optimistic outlook on the world.
As I was reading Concussion, it became clear quite early that a large part of the book was about looking past the surface. This idea is applicable to many different parts of the book, especially Bennett Omalu’s depression, the racism he experiences, and the corruption in the NFL. When Bennett first arrives in the United States, he isn’t all that familiar with racism, as he had never experienced it back in Nigeria. Honestly, hearing about racism from the perspective of someone who has experienced it puts it in a whole new light. It’s not all overt, obvious signs; more often racism is subtle, so much so that Bennett doesn’t even realize he is experiencing it for a long time after he moves to America.
While Bennett may have had some trouble realizing the racism being directed at him from others, then his depression presented the opposite problem: no one was noticing the severe depression just below Bennett’s smiley surface. Concussion offers a perspective on mental illness that represents depression much more accurately than most other books, movies, or television shows. Most people equate depression to long-term sadness, but in my experience with people with depression, that isn’t the case at all. More often someone with depression isn’t in such a state that you could have a conversation with them and infer that they have depression. Bennett is a wonderful representation of the reality of depression; he is loved for his quirky laugh and his cheerful demeanor. Those who speak to him wouldn’t have any idea that he’s constantly engaged in a struggle against himself. Furthermore, Bennett gives a good representation of the recovery from depression. He doesn’t do one thing that magically makes his depression vanish, but he does eventually manage to move past it.
The underlying corruption of the NFL is one of the central themes of the book. As Bennett continually pushes for reform in football to prevent CTE, the NFL hires scientists and other experts to discount his work. This corruption seems immediately obvious to the reader, but when it was actually happening, it was probably much more fast-paced and hard to understand. Just as I said in my reader’s response to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, on major issue in today’s world is corruption in big corporations, when money becomes more important than human life and happiness. Concussion offers up a prime example of this corruption
Although Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is, on the surface, a lighthearted and quirky story about a man traveling space, there are some deeper meanings that can be derived from it. One of the most prominent ones is found in the search for the answer to life, the universe, and everything. For my writing part of the application to Honors Seminar, I chose to write about a quote by Socrates: “the only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing.” I wrote extensively about how I love to expand my horizons and learn new things, but I’ve long accepted that no one can know everything there is to know about the universe. However, of course I was curious to hear what the book’s super computer had to say about “the answer,” though I obviously wasn’t hinging all of my questions on Douglas Adams’ fictional answer to the universe. I wasn’t surprised when the computer’s grand answer– forty-two– matched up to the humor in the rest of the novel. Still, this absurd answer led to another realization: they had been looking for the answer so long that nobody had stopped to ask what the question was. I don’t know how much of a point Adams meant to make with this, but it had me thinking. As humans, we often get ahead of ourselves in the pursuit of knowledge, and probably often start looking for an answer before we even know what the question is.
One other point in the book that stuck out to me was really only a couple of lines long. It occurred right after Arthur refused to give his brain to the “mice” for testing. The mice then decide that rather than put in the work necessary to find the question of life, the universe, and everything, they would simply make up a question to match the answer that the computer has given them. Again, I might be reading more into this than Adams wrote into it, but I found it all too easy to relate to large businesses, as well as government, today. Often we see corporations working to make the most money possible or to save their name, which takes a higher priority than the happiness of their employees and consumers. This theme also popped up in Concussion, where a large organization works in their own favor, rather than in the interest of the people they employ. I believe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was written so that it can be interpreted in multiple different ways, giving each of its readers a unique experience with the book.