Thursday, May 15, 2014

Final Reflection

       As a final blog reflection I really don't know what to say. Keeping a up with a blog for a class isn't easy especially when the only other time I've ever had a blog was for personal use and I only wrote something on it when I felt the need to get something out. I've clearly fallen behind about a month on my blog reflections mostly because at some point I had nothing to say. The class was interesting enough. I really enjoyed the fact that we got to use so much media in the classroom and that we were able to look at other people's profiles and learn from each other. The best way to learn about anything is through your peers and through social media. Since we're all so addicted to it we are constantly bombed with information that, in most cases we don't even need to know about. It's useless. However, by incorporating it in the classroom setting we are integrating something that we like with something that we need. In such a case, we can grab the attention of those suffering from social media addiction and channel it in a positive direction. For example, I have an addiction to my cell phone. With my cellphone I am able to access information at a very quick rate and learn about things almost as soon as they happen. When I'm curious about something I google it and then if it's interesting enough I repost it on other social media channels. There have been countless times were I've learned something by searching Facebook.
       My favorite part of the semester was the poetry section. It really brought me out of my comfort zone because I never really share my writing or poetry with anyone. It was nice to hear and see what my classmates came up with too. It's like we shared this awkward and uncomfortable experience together. Well that's how I felt at least.
      The other projects were cool, although I felt like they were too simple and somewhat random. I know that might screw the students in this class for next semester, but I had a really hard time understanding how everything is connected together with things other than just media literacy. A part of me see's the connection, but another part of me was really confused how it all fit together.
     It was a really great class and I hope to spend time with other fabulous super seniors next semester if anyone else is still stuck at school like I am. <3

Stay classy people ;)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Economic Struggle (For lack of a better title because I have no idea what this essay is about)

          In the world that we live in there has always been a great emphasis on economic success. For some people, success means having an education, a family, being economically stable, and in some cases extremely wealthy. People go to great lengths in order to reach such goals by paying thousands of dollars for an education that will hopefully lead them to be successful later on in life. However that is not always the case. Due to an unstable and capitalistic economy in the U.S. we are now facing a serious imbalance in the class system and many people are falling further into debt because of major conglomerate companies. In Michael Moore’s movie Capitalism: A Love Story, we see how many large scale companies such as Walmart exploit their employees, control the economy, and help create the divide in class systems. This, however, is not only an issue in the U.S., but also in China where due to globalization many American companies outsource their products. Despite the fact that China’s economy practices socialism their class systems are still very much divided and their employees undermined. In the movie Beijing Bicycle the audience gets a glimpse of how people from lower class communities in China suffer from economic distress and how that, like in America, it affects their daily lives. These factors are the reason that many people get stuck in lower class communities and have little hope of getting out of them. 
A capitalistic society is defined by an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. In the U.S. there are hundreds of large companies that control the economy and job market, many of which outsource their jobs in terms of manufacturing and production. Although this takes away from the job market in the U.S. it promotes  globalization and world wide trade. In the U.S. major companies such as Walmart like to provide the highest quality products with the cheapest prices they possibly can afford while still making a profit. While this may seem like it’s beneficial to the general public because it helps them save money and live a better quality lifestyle, it is detrimental to employees that work for the company (Moore). Many of Walmart’s employees usually do not make more than minimum wage and live in what is considered nowadays below the property level. They also note that their paychecks go right back into the company because they cannot afford to shop elsewhere (Moore). For someone living comfortably and being considered middle class it a good place to shop, but for it’s employees who don’t have the option it’s a necessity. Walmart also does its best to ensure that their employees have benefits such as medical and dental insurance, unfortunately having those benefits takes money out of their paychecks and makes it even harder for them to survive economically.
Although Walmart may be able to provide, in many cases, a cheaper product it’s only because it has been outsourced somewhere like China and manufactured by people who are desperate for money to survive. What would generally cost a few dollars to make in the U.S. because of our currency takes mere pennies to make over seas, “China [then] becomes a much cheaper and therefore preferred location for many foreign firms looking to employ  low-wage labour” (Harvey). By sending business overseas major companies are then also able to make more of a profit off of the product and make more money long term. This is very useful in terms of maintaining and growing a business, but not so good for employees. A good portion of China’s economy comes from factories that are working for other countries. Many Chinese employees work for unreasonably small amounts in order to survive. This example is best seen in the movie Beijing Bicycle by Xiaoshuai Wang where the audience follows alongside two characters: Jian and Guo, who come from relatively different backgrounds, but are both dramatically affected by China’s economic struggle. 
In the movie, the audience is introduced to Guo who is a very poor young man who moves from the country side in order to hopefully get a job and be able to survive on his own. He is given an opportunity as a runner and given a bicycle, which then becomes his entire life and means of survival. This bicycle will supposedly lead to his success in the future. Since he comes from extreme rural poverty Guo is very grateful to have a job and will do anything to keep it. When he is faced with losing his bicycle Guo makes it his mission to get it back. He is so poor he can’t afford another one and he doesn’t want to bring shame to his family or himself so he perpetually gets his ass kicked trying to get it back. Jian is a student who lives at home with his family. The family is portrayed as relatively poor and Jian is deprived of things that he wants even though it means that him and his little sister get a good education so that one day they can have better things in life. Jian is portrayed as a good kid for the most part, until we see him stealing money from his family and buying himself Guo’s bicycle. In this movie we see how poverty that’s probably caused by economic disruption and outsourcing can create serious problems and turn good people into criminals because of simple means of survival.
         There are no lessons to be learned from this, I'm very pessimistic when it comes to the future of our society and how people will inevitably treat each other so that they can get ahead. Beijing Bicycle can even be connected to our modern day low income areas in Los Angeles with the way people are possessive with their personal belongings and boys are territorial of their space. The movie isn't too far off in showing how many people act when they are faced with economic struggle and what not.

Monday, February 17, 2014

More poems

Too bad

We sailed
on little ships in little dreams
past the ZZZ's above the dogs in the livingroom

We rode
on magic carpets in the night
Casting shadows on the kitchen counters
stopping by the roof of the fridge for a midnight snack

We leapt 
across the soft boulders shaped like pillows
saving ourselves from the boiling lava 
that crawled across the carpet, down the stairs, and into the hall

We fought
like scoundrels, with sharp swords
made of the finest plastic 
for riches beyond our wildest lego sets

But now...

We sit
In rows 
listening intently to other people's adventures
fortunes, mishaps, and the interpretation of such
too bad, too bad indeed.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Title: Title 1

I'm awake
A silent wake
An empty sleep 
with open eyes
And in a dream
Within a dream
300 emotions 
between two lives
One morning living 
The next i'm dead
They both inhabit
my maxed out head
I wonder how thin
they can spread
my skin until it breaks apart

Title 2 

your whole ending was the end

life was shorter than a short

tomorrow never came

you could breathe easier

you could breathe at all

you could fly

If you could fly... 

Heroes of War
They stood and waited in the pits
A murmur of beer drinking and laughter
Fresh smoke in the air hung above them
Like so many times before

Rows of tents stood along the walls
Signs and banners spilling pledges
A new battlefield
One for the masses

Like so many before them
They came to rage for a cause
Rage against the setting sun
Rage against the machine

They waited in excitement
As their leader stood patiently at intermission
Adjusting the cords on his guitar
Taking a fresh drink of water before…
Giving his final speech

And then, silence
He walked to the microphone
Head bowed in respect
For the ones that sold their souls
To preserve the American dream

Thousands of cups hit the floor
As the smoke cleared the sky
Revealing thousands of lighters
Illuminating sad and regretful faces
Cast down for the fallen men

Not a breath was heard
No fresh cigarettes lit
Every seat in the coliseum empty
Hats off, heads down
Hearts beating as one

Light falls in
Like a blanket
Covering everything
But discriminating
All the darkness in the room

While darkness lives
Like a child
Not knowing
The difference
Between the carpet or the couch

And the clock
Never wonders
Or cares
Of color
It ticks on against the day

As I watch 
With utter disdain
The truth
And lies
That take cover in my living room

And my favorite:
Definitely a high school moment, but I love this!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Explication of "To Lucasta, Going to the Wars"

The subject of love and war has been a very large theme in poetry and other types of writing for centuries. Great writers of every time period made their heroes balance on the fine line between love for their land, honor, and country and the women that they had relationships with. The writers which valued the love of a family to be more important would write their heroes in a way that accepted that honor and riches can come from that of a family. However, other writers, ones that were more focused on their freedom and country ultimately led their heroes to battle, assuming that their love would be directed elsewhere if not put on hold for a love far more powerful than that of a single woman. Richard Lovelace what such a poet who wrote based on his life and in his life he held the notion that going to war was a more reasonable path in life than being tied to a relationship. In his poem "To Lucasta, Going to the Wars" Lovelace uses metre, his life background, and tone to convey his feelings that honor is more important than love.

When considering the formal aspects and structure of the poem one is instantly aware that the poem is written with a rhyme scheme of ballad metre. The initial reading of the poem gives the reader a basic sound of the rhyme being in an ABAB format, but when reading out loud and considering the second stanza it becomes more clear that the rhyme is following the iambic trimeter and tetrameter form of poetry. According to The Poetry Handbook iambic tetrameter is a line of four feet and is almost always broken with a pause. When reading from the beginning this is most obvious even in the first line of the poem in this way, "Tell me / not, Sweet, // I am / unkind," where the last word is broken into two syllables and the reader can hear a pause in between. At least half of the poem follows this same tetrameter structure. The other half of the lines of the poem are formatted in trimeter where the line is of three feet. For example, the last line can be broken down as follows, "Loved I / not Hon/ our more." This is a less obvious example of trimeter, but it is trimeter none the less. This rhyme scheme is not only easy to read, but moves the reader along in a way that might help them see that it resembles a ballad. Considering this concept the audience may also notice the reason the author wrote the poem in this way is to put stress and emphasis on certain aspects of the of the poem as well as create its tone and reveal the speakers need for honor.

Lovelace as a poet was considered to be part of a movement of writing called metaphysical poetry which, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means "highly intellectualized poetry marked by bold and ingenious conceits, incongruous imagery, complexity and subtlety of thought, frequent use of paradox, and often by deliberate harshness or rigidity of expression." This may explain his carelessness towards having a personal relationship with a female and instead a close tied relationship with war, he basically chooses death over nurture, it's not what many would consider a rational choice but it's the speakers choice and it mirrors the opinion of the poet. It does seem irrational at all when one looks at his life as a whole. Although Lovelace's poem seems to have the characteristics described by Websters dictionary it would be unfair to wholly group him into that genre of writers. He has enough reasoning to gallantly choose between what is more important to him. Love and comfort is most likely not at the top of his list where as political gain is.

The tone of the poem becomes quite obvious in the way it's written through the use of line breaks, punctuation, and dialect. The line breaks come at very natural moments that places emphasis on certain lines which the reader would have otherwise misread. The most prominent example is at the end of the second stanza where Lovelace decides to break into a new line and emphasize the importance of, "A sword, a horse, [and] a shield." He does this to show that these three objects are what he really needs to survive because they will carry him to victory and his faith in them will protect him and bring him honor. Lovelace also uses punctuation for specifically the use of commas to again give emphasis and importance to certain words and objects. By doing so he is giving the reader time to think about the word use. The pauses that the commas cause also brings to the poem an air of natural conversation. The critic, W. Carew Hazlitt of the Inner Temple, describes the poem as, "graceful, airy… nicely finished… delicate in expression…" (310). The dialect and word use in the poem is definitely so. Lovelace uses words such as sweet, chaste, embrace, adore and dear which soften the tone of the poem in many ways. The use of these words creates an overall mellow sound to the work It's like the speaker is breaking up with his lover, but making it seem as if it's really his loss and he too shall be hurt by it. His tone is calm, sweet, and rational in it's manner.

There are many factors which contributed to the writing of this poem. Lovelace wrote something that was a common theme in his life. His life as a royalist and his constant participation in war related efforts were always more accounted for than his personal relationships. Through the use of careful formatting he was able to turn the poem into a ballad, which would make sense in the time period that it may have been written to an actual woman. While explicating this work we see the theme of honor verses love through the use of literary elements. 

Hazlitt, Carew. "Lucasta. The Poems of Richard Lovelace, Esq., Now First Edited and the Text                                                                   Carefully." JSTOR. University of Northern Iowa, n.d. Web. Feb. 2014.

Colin Burrow, ‘Metaphysical poets (act. c.1600–c.1690)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn, Oxford University                  Press, Feb 2009 <, accessed 9 Feb 2014]
Jokinen, Anniina. "The Life of Richard Lovelace." Luminarium.
           16 Feb 2003. .

Deutsch, Babette. Poetry Handbook: A Dictionary of Terms. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1962. Print.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Poetry: The Monster in my Closet and A Criticism of Curriculum

Many people would probably agree with the statement that poetry is like food for the soul. Many people would also agree with the statement: excessively writing or reading poetry for a prolonged period of time can make you want to hit your head against a brick wall until you pass out in a pool of your own blood. It's definitely surprising that most undergraduate English classes, at all grade levels from freshman to senior, spend roughly the first month of the academic semester covering poetry. This wouldn't be an issue if they also weren't covering pretty much the same poets and the same poems every semester. When a student majors in English they expect that by the time they graduate they would have read a variety of texts in all types of genres. Wouldn't it be wonderful if that were true. Upon entering the English program at Pierce College as a sophomore I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of subject matter I was covering: world literature, feminist literature, American literature, Civil War period literature, etc. It was the most exciting thing, to be learning exactly what I wanted i.e. how to think and write critically about a variety of literature. It wasn't that the curriculum was always stimulating or interesting, but it was always different. My first semester at California State University Northridge I was still pleasantly surprised when I was barely a junior and I was taking African American Literature and Critical Theory my first semester. 
          That excitement was short lived. The rest of the English program to follow was and still is particularly dull and most of the students in the program don't care to make it any more exciting because who cares if something is challenging. The attitude is as follows: "just give me the work, I'll turn it in, give me the grade, I want to graduate." The teachers don't seem to really put much work into the curriculum either. How is it possible that I'm a senior English major and I'm covering the exact same poets I've been covering for 3 years and 4 out of 5 classes are covering poetry at the same time? I have 3 papers due this week and they're all on poetry analysis. It's come to the point in my education where I absolutely hate myself for choosing English as a major. There's no progress. It's the same exact work for four years in a row. You read the same supposedly influential authors and writers. You write the same MLA style papers you've been writing since high school, except they're technically supposed to be more profound and interesting. Then every once in a while you get a level 400 class where the teacher spends the entire first month covering how to write an essay.
           Which brings me to the conclusion that English is a terrible major and I heard if from the monster in my closet while reading so much poetry my soul became a bulimic and began to throw it up. The English subject matter curriculum needs to be reformatted in a way that gives more depth and variety to the major and the topic. That or someone needs to tell me that it's a horrible major and I picked it for all the wrong reasons. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

"Educational Reform" or lack there of...

As my boyfriend was flipping through the radio the other day I heard something on talk radio that set me off in a different direction. The radio was broadcasting a speech that Obama was giving about educational reform, claiming that the government is trying to establish a higher standard for test taking and putting more money towards educational reform. All I could think is, "how long are we going to keep talking about this before we see anything change?!" Educational reform is a topic that's been thrown around the mouths of politicians for over a decade now and the change that they've all been talking about is still yet to be seen. Granted minor changes have been made, such as the funding for tablets and computers in the classroom, but what about other things? Are tablets really useful when there are no teachers to conduct a classroom? Are they useful in an environment where students are barely reaching their average potential in reading, writing, and math? The answer is no. Educational reform in the eyes of up and coming teachers stems from the basics: funding a school so that they can pay their teachers, buying new books, and creating programs for sports and tutoring. So far, none of these things have happened and if they have then on a minimal scale. Giving tablets to low income elementary school students is like giving a toddler an iphone and claiming you're a good parent. It doesn't work. If educational reform were to happen it would have to start at the bottom of the educational pyramid i.e. the actual school. Many schools need to be fixed and possibly even rebuilt. No one likes learning in an environment that's not conducive to learning. The next thing that would be really helpful in educational reform is to stop firing teachers and possibly even pay them more than we already do. During student teaching and observation hours there wasn't a single teacher that didn't tell me that they didn't have to buy their own supplies. Granted they could use it as a write off on their taxes, but is it really fair to make them spend money they barely have for school supplies for students? No. 
Another good idea for educational reform would be to fire teachers that aren't doing their jobs and hire teachers that actually care about students, legitimately care about their students. Many teachers get signed on to ten-year and after the third they stop caring about their jobs. If a teacher gets even remotely lazy about their job, they shouldn't be allowed to stay in the classroom because it has a direct impact on the students and their attitudes toward school. In the past year, there has been some talk about teachers being replaced if the students in their classroom aren't testing well on their STAR and CAT6 tests. That, in my opinion, is a horrible way to weed out bad teachers because lots of students don't take the tests seriously. By a certain grade level, students realize that these tests don't mean anything to them and it's a schools way of getting more funding from the government. If a student hates school, they might sit there and draw pictures while bubbling in random answers. Is it a reflection of a teachers capability to teach a classroom, again the answer is no. Teachers should be able to teach what they want and how they want as long as it's beneficial to a student and meets the criteria for the grade level. All classes are different, there is no direct equation for success in school and each class has its own personality that neither the principle nor the board of education can see. I'm not trying to say that we should get rid of standards, but if we got rid of things we have to teach based on state standards created by people that barely spend time in a classroom we would be closer to educational reform. 
Which brings me to another very important point, the use of text books in early and secondary education. Buying schools kindles and tablets might help soften the load in a students backpack, but it takes away something that we try to teach students every day: the importance of work ethic. Some would argue that we are entering a digital age and that it's important to prepare students for this. That is true, in which case schools should have a mandatory computer lab program  in which students learn the basics of how to use computers and navigating social media (not that they really have a problem with that). Textbooks, new updated textbooks, are important in educating students. If the government wants to reform a school sending money for textbooks would be way more beneficial than sending them tablets. The care for books teaches you respect, the use of books teaches you research and patience, and students that can learn those things will probably have a better attitude towards education overall.
This brings me to my final point on educational reform: building elective programs in schools. When a school loses money the first thing to go is elective and after school programs. There has been no word on schools getting them back either. I don't understand why the government and state board thinks that art and sports are any less important than subjects like math and science. Those programs give students incentives for coming to school and working hard for something. They learn the value of keeping up their grades when they have to keep up a GPA in order to stay on a team. These programs are important and if educational reform were to be happening then the programs that get taken out should be the first to be brought back into the school system.
In conclusion, educational reform is not happening. The money is clearly being put into other things, possibly even the super intendants pocket, and I for one would be very happy if politicians either stopped making promises or go through with what they're saying. Putting new technology in failing schools will not make test scores go up neither will pumping our news with empty promises. If Obama wants to keep preaching change that's fine, but he should really consider that one day people will catch on to the fact that change isn't coming about and put him out of office or demand to see that change. Until the country is ready for educational reform it will not happen, so if we could keep it out of the media that would be splendid.