"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious" - Albert Einstein

English A: Language and Literature – A dolls house pre-reading activity

ADH pre-reading task

Theory of Knowledge – Homework: Area of Knowledge

To what extent is the knowledge constructed in some areas of knowledge more reliable than the knowledge constructed in others? Be sure to support your claims with reasons and evidence in the form of real-life examples.

I definitely believe knowledge constructed in some areas such as math and science is significantly more reliable than knowledge constructed in others. Math and science are subjects that use logic and reasoning to explore things in our nature. In contrast, areas such as art focus on the interaction between the viewer and the piece of art as well as the context that shapes knowledge construction. I think the term reliability can be defined as the quality of being trustworthy or of performing consistently well. In other words, in terms of objectivity, I believe knowledge should be performed consistently. Knowledge constructed in math is very reliable as everyone can perceive it consistently without any bias or personal preferences. For example, when we prove something is true by mathematical induction, it can never be disproved again: let 𝑃(𝑛) be a logical statement pertaining to the positive integers 𝑛. If 𝑃(1) is true, and 𝑃(𝑘 + 1) is true whenever 𝑃(𝑘), then 𝑃(𝑛) is true for all positive integers 𝑛. Although some knowledge is not necessarily perfect, such as misinterpretations and paradoxes in statistics, the mathematical concept of probability density is always logical and correct. In contrast, arts rely on their own perception and apply their own imagination to convey emotion or narrative. For example, one can perceive knowledge and information in painting, music ad film differently. Although some argue that the role of art isn’t to create consistency in ideas but to expand the scope of discovery within the human mind, I think the knowledge that has inconsistency can be considered as non-reliable as everyone have different cognitive senses when it comes to imagination and constructing knowledge in art. Not only constructing knowledge in math and arts, but I also believe the knowledge in certain areas is definitely more reliable than others which are often left to the audiences’ own discretion.

English A: Language and Literature – Gordon Parks Photography Analysis


SeongJun Choi

Dr. Maloney

20 January 2020

Word Count 500

Gordon Park’s photography “Bessie Fontenelle and Richard Climb the Stairs” was created in 1967, New York. The collection of his photographs depicts the daily struggle of a Harlem family by portraying their daily life under poverty and segregation. Parks targets the general public and emphasizes the harsh living conditions of Black people. Overall, the photograph utilizes symbolism, composition, and lighting to raise awareness on the issue of racial inequality and depict the black communities’ struggles against poverty and segregation.

The photograph first uses symbolism to convey the theme of inequality and racial discrimination. While the characters are walking up the stairs, a toy tricycle is placed on the second floor. Since juveniles typically enjoy and crave riding a toy tricycle, it symbolizes hope and equality that the black people strongly desire. Hence, because no one is riding the tricycle and the two characters are unaware of the toy tricycle, the photograph conveys that demand for equality has not been commonly recognized and achieved in society. Furthermore, the stairs in which the characters are walking, which is the only path for the characters to go upstairs, represent the gradual steps and efforts necessary to improve the living conditions of the black people.

Hence, the photograph also employs composition by placing the objects and the characters based on their respective significance to convey the theme of poverty. The black characters on the first floor are located in the lowest position in the picture; therefore, the text implies that the living conditions and rights of black people are not society’s interests and priorities. Moreover, the high angle shot aids the audience to view the black characters as powerless and vulnerable. This encourages the audience to have more authority than the characters in the photograph, which represents black people as the social minority. In this way, the photograph displeases the audience and encourages them to recognize how they have been privileged in society compared to the black people.

The photograph lastly utilizes lighting to show the contrast between the hard times in the past and the improved conditions in the present. While the background behind the characters is pitch dark by creating an ominous and melancholy mood, the stairs in which they are walking are bright due to the shining light. This suggests that the black people experienced a temporary improvement in their living conditions after the suffering. However, the background of the second floor turning black again alludes to the bleak future of black people with a clear contrast between light and dark. Furthermore, because the woman is facing the bright side and turning her back against the dark, the photograph implies that black people are expecting an improvement in living conditions and trying to escape from poverty and segregation.

Through the usage of symbolism, composition, and lighting, the photograph of Parks indicates the necessity of aiding people struggling from poverty and social injustice. Park attempts to remind the audience of the values of equality by creating a humanizing effect on the characters.

Theory of Knowledge – Homework: Political Being Reflection

In our TOK class, we recently took three tests that evaluate my political bias and viewpoint. Before taking the test, I expected myself to be a moderate-right considering my viewpoints on political issues in our society. Instead, the political bias tests indicated that I am a moderate-authoritarian. It was really interesting how all the tests were indicating the same result. I was quite surprised by the result of the test since I was expecting something different. Being moderate means that my political standpoint in economics is between the left and right: both supporting some sort of government intervention and a free economy. For social issues, I was more inclined towards the “authoritarian” with the support of government authority.

The survey was asking various questions about my stance on a particular issue, and they covered topics including economics, diplomacy, and laws. The answers to the questions were ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree.  Frankly speaking, I consider myself a “political” being with strong political bias especially when it comes to discussions about current issues. I always try to be updated with political issues and how they can impact our lives. Instead of passively accepting information from the media around me, I attempt to critically analyze different issues in our world. This also explains why I am a passionate MUN student. Although the boundaries of left and right are relatively difficult to draw, I think many of our choices can be influenced by these political bias. When I discuss certain issues with different groups of people in school, I also exert some sort of political influence as everything I do can be considered “political”.

The deep roots of political polarization around us explain the necessity of critical thinking and the ability to evaluate different perspectives. I think the refugee crisis is currently the most important issue in our world. Especially when it comes to discussions of different social issues, I think it is important for people to be aware of their existence as a political being and understand how they can exert their influence to the others.

English A: Language and Literature – Gordon Parks Photography Visual Annotations

Theory of Knowledge – Homework: First Semester Reflection

  1. For me, “Knowledge and Technology” was the most standing out to me. The relationship between the development of technology and the spread of knowledge was really interesting because this knowledge question is analyzing how technology can willingly and unwillingly change our lives. Furthermore, this knowledge question has some current applications as in the current world of information, distinguishing between what is right and what is wrong became extremely abstract.
  2. My perspective did definitely shifted after taking this course. First of all, I became really critical and cautious when receiving knowledge. I learned that the development of technology could result in polarization in our society with confusion and conflicts. Studying the ways of knowing can also aid me to distinguish between opinion and facts.
  3. Looking ahead to exhibition requirements, I think choosing the right object is the most important thing. Right means that the object should be applicable and interesting with a good reflection of the Knowledge question. I should also recognize that my explanation must be critical and specific with examples.
  4. Looking back on my writing, I should work harder when explaining something based on examples. I would need to be more specific and make my reasoning logical and coherent. I should also try to make some insightful analysis by being creative when coming up with ideas.

English A: Language and Literature – First Semester Reflection

  1. This semester, we have studied propaganda posters from the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Zhang Yimou’s “To Live,” American Born Chinese, and the speeches of Malcolm X. Looking back, what texts have made the biggest impact on you? Why do you think that is?
  • Zhang Yimou’s movie “To Live” gave me the biggest impact as it encouraged me to think about our lives and why he should always have hope. The movie’s appeal to emotions was really effective and it also provided several insights regarding the Chinese Cultural revolution. Before watching the movie, I was not interested in Chinese history; however, the movie also taught me how to respect and value other cultures as they can convey significant messages to us. Other texts were also really interesting, but I was particularly impressed by the film “To Live”.

2. In terms of your skill development,

    • ○  how has your ability to read and analyze various text types developed over the course of this year so far?
    • ○  how have your writing skills developed over the course of this year so far?
    • ○  how have your speaking skills developed over the course of the year so far?
    • ○ Be sure to indicate both areas of growth and areas for further improvement.
  • In this semester, I learned some new strategies and skills to analyze various text types. The Six Dimensions of the revised rhetorical question were really helpful for me to understand the text. In terms of writing, I learned how to write good academic writing and the necessity of reading outside of class. I also developed my speaking skills and learned how to pronounce and enunciate clearly.
  1. Of the five Approaches to Learning skills that the IB emphasizes (see next slide), which do you think that you have demonstrated the most growth in so far in this course? Which do you still need to work on?
  • I think I demonstrated the most growth in communications skills in terms of sharing my ideas and discussing with others. I think communication is a really strong tool that can help me to develop and learn in this course. However, I still need to work on thinking skills especially when it comes to analyzing a text. I would need to think in a more logical manner and try my best to learn by thinking.

4. Of the IB Learner Profile attributes that the IB promotes (see next slide), which do you think that you have demonstrated the most growth in so far in this course? Which ones still require development?

  • I think I demonstrated growth in reflections since I try to understand my strengths and weaknesses when learning. I still need to be open-minded to evaluate and analyze different points of view and also develop by understanding them.

5. Looking ahead, what goals would you like to set for yourself in this course moving forward?

  • In this course, one of the biggest goals I set for myself would obviously be getting a satisfying grade. However, in terms of my approach to learning, I would like to have more opportunities to personally develop and learn how to try my best. I would like to try my best and get a good result that can reward my hard works.

English A: Language and Literature – First Individual Oral Reflection

I focused on the portrayal of racial stereotypes in our society and how it can be seen on pages 202 to 204 and in the text(American Born Chinese) as a whole. I focused on how the extract and the text as a whole use verbal features, visual features, and symbolism to subvert and reinforce the racial stereotypes present in our society. In terms of my oral, I think I did well in understanding and interpreting the text. I also think I did a decent job in focus and organization as I believe my oral maintained a clear and sustained focus on the task. However, I still need to improve on the language part and try to various vocabularies and syntax. I would also need to use different elements of style to enhance my oral. In order to prepare for the next oral, I will focus more on analyzing the extract itself and prepare to answer the questions. In the next oral, I will try not to make errors in my communication and make my analysis insightful so that I can improve on my analysis and evaluation.

English A: Language and Literature – First impression after listening to Kendrick Lamar’s album DAMN

Kendrick Lamar’s album DAMN astonished me with several significant messages related to social issues. I found out that all the songs in Kendrick Lamar’s album DAMN are connected with each other and they also have a lot of biblical allusions. I was surprised by how Lamar connected himself with Jesus in “DNA” and “Yah”.   The figurative language such as metaphors also enhanced my understanding of the lyrics. The album first starts with a story of an old woman and told Lamar that he “lost something”. I think the narrative in this work has not been as direct as Kendrick’s previous works, and his intuition on the subject is also weak. In this work, Kendrick talks about the resistance to a repressive society as a black man (DNA.) and criticizes other black artists who are on the side of the system and only pursue their own interests. He also talks more about the realities of the society in the United States (XXX). These stories remind me of Kendrick’s previous work “To Pimp A Butterfly,” but the difference is that Kendrick’s concerns are scattered all over the place like debris, not functioning as a theme at the center of this work. This album ends with the song “DUCKWORTH,” which talks about “coincidence” and “fate” behind the birth of Kendrick Lamar. Then, the song ends with the sound of gunfire, which connects to the first scene of “BLOOD.” At this point, the story reminds us of the “lost thing” that Kendrick Lamar had. Many obstacles including Kendrick’s oppressed fate as a ‘black’ person and the burden and doubt that comes to him as an artist made Kendrick agonize and wander. However, he ultimately chose to accept his ‘fate’ as if his beginning was accidental and fateful. The courage is not to avoid but to admit one’s own ‘fear’ and to accept them as they are under ‘belief’. Therefore, Kendrick Lamar’s album “DAMN” was really attractive to me with its meanings behind the lyrics.

English A: Language and Literature – Creating your own Cartoon

Word Count 300

Several significant features are used in this cartoon to achieve its purpose: to enlighten the viewers about the importance and value of family. The cartoon targets English literate who have lost loved ones and experienced devastating feelings. One of the significant features the poster uses in this poster is symbolism. Typically symbolizing death and mourning, the black rose in this cartoon represents loss and memory the character shares with his grandfather. The depiction of black rose in the beginning and the end of this cartoon highlights the value of reminiscence in the character’s longing for his grandfather. Furthermore, the cartoon employs a distinct structure by dividing the story into three parts. This cartoon is not in chronological order; instead, when transitioning from the first part to the second part, the black panels gradually decrease by indicating time transition. Hence, this cartoon’s second part does not have vivid colors and is mostly black and white, which exposes that the character is lost in deep thoughts. This allows the audience to connect this story with their own experience and think about themselves how it feels like when they confront pain by losing their family. Hence, when the character is emotionally agitated on page 5, the cartoon uses emanata and extreme close-up to vividly depict the character’s crying face, thus emotionally affecting the audience by pathos. Lastly, the cartoon utilizes many captions and capital letters to emphasize certain words such as “IT” and “TRUTH.” By emphasizing these catchy words, which all indirectly refers to the plot, the cartoon instigates an interest with its broad scope and stimulation to curiosity. The parallel structure in “his face, his smile, his talks,” and word choices such as “love” contribute to establishing a sentimental tone, which aids the audience recognize the significance of love and family emotionally.


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