Insights & Art

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Tag: Insights & Ball

Up in the Air – Review & Analysis

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“Yes, it was pretty lonely.”
“Life’s better with company.”
“Yeah.”

You’ve made your bed, now go lie in it. Enter Ryan Bingham (George Clooney), a man who summarises the shifting values of the 21st century, someone you see, but never meet. Tasked with the job of firing employees for ‘weak willed’ employers, Ryan travels the nation, never rooted, always moving. George Clooney delivers one of his best performances, and stars in the ‘Clooney’ role, an aging silver fox, with a seductive combination of wit and charisma, yet tragically flawed.

In this film, a young enthusiastic new employee; Natalie Kenner, played by the adorable and remarkably short Anna Kendrick, attempts to ‘revolutionise’ Ryan’s industry by introducing technology as the method of communication. Director Jason Reitman quietly brings up the moral questions of such an industry, will Skype make an already soul crushing announcement even less human? And if so, does it justify the cheaper economic cost? For Ryan, a gamophobic, he sees this decision as a direct attack on his laissez-faire state of living, ironically forgetting about the ‘real’ victims who are actually affected by the Global Financial Crisis. Already angry at Natalie for her suggestions, Ryan is tasked with the job of introducing her to the business, giving her first hand experience in this occupation, bridging the few months wait before the technology gets implemented.

This of course, cramps Mr. Bingham’s style, who personifies ‘easy come, easy go’.

On this subtle journey of self discovery, Ryan meets Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga); the modern day film noir love interest and a perfect combination of flirtiness, wit and unreachable allure. A self described ‘road warrior’, Ryan along with the audience is hopelessly charmed by her aura, even against their better judgement. It is with these bumps in the once smooth road, that the story starts.

[INCOMING SPOILERS]

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At the core of Jason Reitman’s film are the themes of relationships and responsibility; two dance partners who endlessly circle around the life of Ryan Bingham. Nothing reflects this like Ryan’s first encounter with Alex at a bar, both sipping on spirits, both waiting for the world to come and embrace them, but too jaded to make the first move. They start off their relationship by comparing credit cards, we as the audience are disgusted by such behaviour, but equally fascinated by their charm. They laugh and banter for a bit before going back to Ryan’s room to have sex. Casual and flirty; a quick transaction between two parties.

“We are two people that get turned on by elite status, I think cheap is our starting point.”

Apart from firing employees, Ryan Bingham also lectures about his isolationist philosophies, his message? “We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move.” The core motif of this philosophy is Ryan’s travelling bag; light, compact and ruthlessly packed to maximise efficiency. The quick series of cuts showing Ryan checking into the airport at the start of the film, immediate convey his sense of character; professional, calculated and deliberate.

When Ryan’s oldest sister (Kara) calls Ryan to discuss about their young sister’s wedding (Julie), she pleads him to participate in their ‘wedding gift’. This requires him to take a few photos holding a cardboard cut out of the newly engaged couple at iconic scenes around America. Begrudging, and after a lot of resistance, Ryan agrees. From the continuation of the bag motif we can see how disgruntled Ryan is, the cardboard cut out, is a little too wide, a little too longer to fit into the metaphor of his luggage; his indifferent lifestyle of constant movement, constant activity. We start to see and understand how detached Ryan is, an emotionally damaged man, incapable, or even worse, unwilling to maintain any relationship. A man whose definition of success is to reach a mathematical number; ten millions frequent flyer miles. It all makes sense.

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“How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. Feel ’em?”

Yet this motif comes to a crescendo when Ryan sheepishly invites Alex as a date to his sister’s wedding. When asked to pin the photos of the cardboard cutouts on a map, he stands there, transfixed. In front of him is a map filled to the brim with photos from all of the couple’s friends and family, it’s so crowded that Ryan struggles to find space. And there lies the irony, this humble homely couple in Milwaukee, unable to afford a honeymoon and with close to no travel experience, has connections all over the nation. In contrast, Ryan can boast about all the exotic places he’s been, all the five star hotels he has stayed and all the casual sex he has engaged in… Yet can’t describe the feeling of friendship, he can’t describe holding someone out of a genuine sense of affection.

Ryan Bingham lived for his resume and not his eulogy.

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Slowly, we can begin to see Ryan’s outlook on life change, his relationships with Alex builds and builds, overwhelming his once mathematical approach to life. Maybe, she wasn’t a burden, maybe love was more than just a transaction between two people. The wedding scene stands out as my favourite in the whole film; it was just relatable, so genuinely human. Reitman switches to a shaky cam and the tinge of vintage red makes the audience feel as if we’re attending the wedding of a close cousin. The following scene, when Ryan comes back to his unglamorous Omaha house contrasts the warmth and happiness he felt when surrounded by his new relationships. There’s no music, there’s no dancing, the world has lost its musky red filter. Only cold white walls, a vacant desk and dusty couch greet him.

During the middle of his ‘backpack’ speech in Las Vegas, a speech which was has been very excited for since the beginning of the film. Ryan stops and stutters, his philosophies have changed and the spark of superiority and sureness which glinted in his eyes previously was gone. He can’t even bring himself to say these words. He steps away from the podium, offers an apology and in an act of complete vulnerability and spontaneity, he catches a flight to Alex’s house to finally speak without his cool air of invincibility, without his sense of complete assurance.

And Ryan gets his heart crushed, Alex is married. With children.

Ryan’s whole life had been predicated upon his isolation and the distancing of himself from people. Now a middle aged man with his youth quickly fading away, Ryan realises the consequences of his actions. He made his bed, now he has to lie in it.

It’s ironic that for a man whose occupation demanded a total sense of aloofness, Ryan now stands as a victim to his own game. He hangs up on Alex after what is assumed to be their final phone call, “You are an escape… You are a break from our normal lives… You are an parenthesis.” Ryan Bingham was always very detached, unfortunately for him, he met the only person in America who was even more detached. Karma? You decide.

Dejected and demoralised, he catches a plane back home, when the announcement is made that he just hit the ten million miles mark. In celebration, the airline chief sits down beside Ryan and starts making small talk, asking him “Where are you from?” to which a disheartened Ryan can only respond with “I’m from here.”

When Ryan gets back to his office, he rings the airline company and tries to transfer his miles over to his sister and her new husband, giving them the chance to experience the honeymoon they deserve. Yet the decision is interrupted by an co-worker knocking at Ryan’s door, and he hangs up the phone. The thought is there, but whether or not he completes the action, the audience will never know.

The film ends with Ryan standing in front of a large destination board, once again called to be a ‘road warrior’. His figure dwarfed by the immensity of the screen. Stunned by the enormity of the task ahead, Ryan lets go on his luggage handle, silently protesting this lifestyle which molded him into a hermit. A man who has lived in many houses, but never a home.

And this is what separates Jason Reitman from the average director, with already a string of witty and clever films under his belt. Reitman refuses to give the audience their candy. A ‘happy ever after’ ending between Ryan and Alex would have been too smooth, too unrealistic, too impractical, and at their core, both were practical people. To have this joyous ending would have absolved Ryan and Alex from their past and ultimately, this was a film about responsibility.

You’ve made your bed, now go lie in it.

Genre: Comedy-Drama
Certificate: R
USA Release Date: 23rd December 2009
Runtime: 149 minutes
Director: Jason Reitman
Writer: Walter Kirn & Jason Reitman
Starring: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga & Anna Kendrick
Synopsis: With a job traveling around the country firing people, Ryan Bingham enjoys his life living out of a suitcase, but finds that lifestyle threatened by the presence of a new hire and a potential love interest.

Game of Thrones: The Winds of Winter – Review

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“Jon, a raven came from the citideal; a white raven… Winter is here.”
“Well, father always promised didn’t he?”

[MAJOR SPOILERS]

Whilst there are certainly lulls in season six of HBO’s record breaking, culture changing franchise; Game of Thrones, the final two episodes; Battle of the Bastards and The Winds of Water were absolutely magnificent.

As film director Rolf de Heer famously said “Sound is sixty percent of the emotional content of the film” and the music in season six was breath taking. So whilst, the season finale was a celebration to how amazing the actors and actress are in this franchise, not enough credit gets given to Ramin Djawadi; the lead composer for Game of Thrones. Without Djawadi’s magical touch, this franchise would only reach a fraction of its true potential and the awe-inspiring scores helps elevate this piece of art so much more. Kudos to a true musical genius.

JON TARGARYEN

“Listen to me Ned, his name is… If Robert finds out he will kill him, you know he will, you have to protect him… Promise me Ned… Promise me.”

Rejoice Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark theorist, today is our day! Today our goblets shall be filled with wine, we shall sing merry songs and we shall dance in the hall of the kings!

This was perhaps my favourite scene from such a splendid, action packed, violence packed episode. For the last two seasons, Jon Snow Targaryen has been my favourite character, he is one of the only currently living characters (along with Ser Davos and possibly Daenerys) which acts as the moral compass of the franchise. Whilst Daenerys has her compassion for the slaves and her desire to liberate the Free Cities, Jon is really the only character that constantly demonstrated his beliefs through his PHYSICAL actions, to the point he was ready and willing to die for his beliefs, I always respected him for that.

So, my heart was pounding during Lyanna and Ned Stark’s final conversation. This series had been teasing out this reveal since episode one and to the disappointment of the fans, the directors seemed to have completely forgotten about this plot during the middle of the season. However, the exchange was every bit as sad, emotion and epic as I could have hoped for. The transition from the little baby opening its eyes to Jon Targaryen sitting at the head of the Stark house, as the music crescendoed, sent shivers down my spine.

I’ve also grown particularly attached with Lady Mormont of House Bear, her confidence, wit and Ayra-like charm won me over the moment she appeared on television. But the scene after Jon’s heritage was revealed, completely cemented my love for her.* In a moment which mirrored the original ‘King in the North’ christening of Robert Stark, the great Lords of the North pledge their allegiance to Jon Targaryen. However, despite the similarities, there was clearly a tonal shift from the conclusion of season one; those were simpler, more innocent times. This christening didn’t have the glamour or the glory which accompanied Robert’s affirmation, instead it foreshadowed even greater conflict and death as the North prepares for the war against the dead.

Jon Targaryen, first of his name, the King in the North, the Lord Commander, the blood of old Valyria, the Dragon and the White Wolf.

*I was nearly in tears at that point, for a character who had suffered the shame of being a bastard, the shame of being abused by Ser Alliser Thorne and even being betrayed by the Night’s Watch. It felt amazing that finally, finally, his fate was turning.

Ayra Stark is also finally in the game again, the Starks have really bolstered their position compared to the beginning of this season. As much as I enjoy Ayra’s tomboyish traits and her confrontational charms, it is slightly concerning to see a teenager display such a ruthless desire for revenge. Whilst the audience has always supported Ayra avenging her family and having a goal to work towards, it is slightly unnerving to see the awe and joy in her eyes after slitting Walder Frey’s throat.

QUEEN CERSEI LANNISTER

“This is Ser Gregor Clegane… He is quiet too… Your gods have forsaken you… This is your god now… Shame… Shame… Shame.”

A Lannister always pays their debt. After close to two whole seasons of being lurking in the shadows, Cersei is ready to become a major player in King’s Landing again. In one suspenseful scene, Cersei managed to destroy most of her opponents in one single blow with wild fire under the Great Sept of Baelor.

Cersei is back, with a vengeance, except this time she is without any of her children, her only link to sanity, the only things which were able to humanise such a vicious woman. Cersei was always power hungry, yet she always seemed to symbolically cover that up with beautiful floral dresses and sparkling jewelry, as if to distract from her less than stellar personality. But it seems Cersei has no time for such trivial fancies. As she ascends the Iron Throne dressed in a dressed in a beautiful black dress, perhaps to foreshadow her fall into madness, Cersei begins to resemble Aerys II Targaryen; the Mad King even more. Shockingly, it was not the Dragon which burnt King’s Landing with wild fire, but instead the Lion. Isn’t it even more symbolic that her most trusted adviser Qyburn was an former maester who was shunned by the order for practicing forbidden arts?

In many ways, the scene of Cersei preparing herself for the explosion at the Great Sept reminded me of the infamous baptism scene in The Godfather. Where Michael Corleone stands completely stoic at the altar after ordering the assassination of the rival families, his unflinching stare making the audience question whether or not he had become an emotionless monster. This time it was Cersei who failed her child, her kinder traits seemed to have been blackened after Tommen declared that trial by combat will be outlawed specifically to handicap his mother’s only trump card; Clegane. Cersei wasn’t at Tommen’s room trying to comfort the naive boy after he had lost his wife and his faith. In fact compared to her reactions when Joffrey and Myrcella, she seemed cold and aloof. No one crosses Cersei and lives to tell the tale, not even her own children.

The question remains, how does Mad Queen Cersei aim to keep not only her Iron Throne, but also the love of Jaime Lannister? The cold glare between the two signaled a clear shift in their relationship; she had become the very monster he killed to protect the city. How does a woman who has isolated all her allies and supporters maintain the crown against Daenerys Stormborn, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons?

Will Jaime Lannister be adding the Queen Slayer to his long list of titles?

DAENERYS TARGARYEN

“What is my heart’s desire?”
“Vengence… Justice.”
“Fire and blood.”

I am so glad that Daenerys finally got out of Meereen, she was a big fish in a small pond. It is time for Daenerys to leave her isolated world and join the rest of the cast in the battle for Westeros. It is time to announce to the world that the Dragon is back.

I thought that Meereen was rather dull this season and it was only Peter Dinklage (Tyrion), Jacob Anderson (Greg Worm) and Nathalie Emmanuel’s (Missandei) performances which were keeping this narrative afloat. After all the entire point of the unrest and the emergence of the Son of the Harpies was to teach Daenerys how hard it is to rule and that the crowd is fickle, particularly if you do not know the city’s culture. I thought season five really effectively showed us the pains of leadership with Daenerys facing the first real test of her queenship; public backlash. However in season six, Daenerys was completely missing from Meereen, her absence meant that the rise in tension lead to more character development for Tyrion than the Mother of Dragons, thus I just wasn’t very emotionally invested Meeren during this season. The Free Cities always felt like a stepping stone to Daenerys’ true purpose and I’m glad she has is on her way to her true goal.

Whilst the main theme of Daenerys’ character growth has been her becoming more stern and less forgiving, changing from a beautiful, soft young lady to the authoritative and inspiring queen. It was very touching to see Daenerys display a more compassionate side of her personality with Tyrion. His emotional reaction, shows just how much his past has shaped him and despite having killed his father and been exiled from Westeros, Tyrion belongs in the western continent. He will never be able to undo his love for Shae, he will never be able to forget his brother or wash away the emotional scars caused by his father.

The ending sequence was also breath taking, the transition from Theon Greyjoy standing alone to Grey Worm standing proudly to the rest of the immense fleet was breath taking. The sheer scope of this production combined with Djawadi’s perfect composition ended the season in a manner befitting on of the greatest television series ever to grace the screens.

Valar Morghulis. Westeros, doesn’t know what is about to hit it.

CONCLUSION

In general, I find that the later seasons of Game of Thrones haven’t been as ‘lean’ or ‘sharp’ as the first three to four seasons. Part of this is because they lost George R.R. Martin as a key editor on the show and also because David Benioff and Daniel Weiss have started to drift into territory which isn’t covered by the novels. In particular I felt this season dragged on from episode six to eight (straight after Hordor’s death to before the Battle of the Bastards). There were a few questionable decisions, such as why bring Sandor Clegane back if he is not going to spar with his brother during the Trial by Combat? Why reestablish the Brother Without Banners so many seasons after they were first introduced?

So this wasn’t a ‘perfect’ season, but the final two episodes in particular was one of the best pairs of episodes I have ever seen. It reminds me of Avatar Wan’s double episode in The Legend of Korra for raising the bar in animation and television respectively. Most of all, I am hyped for season seven already and it pains me to announce that we as the fans, have to wait another ten months before we can get our weekly fix of this show.

THE KING IN THE NORTH.

Professional Teaching Relationship with the Community

“My classroom is my castle, and the sovereigns of other fiefdoms are not welcome.”
– Palmer, 1998.

Teaching is one of the most privatised public professions and this isolation has a lot of negatives effects on this occupation and how teaching relates to the wider public at hand. In Australia, one of the pillars of teaching culture is individualism, the ability for the teacher to make choices in their classroom without the collective scrutiny of the staffroom or their peers. Not only are many teachers disconnected from the wider community such as parents and carers, often many teachers teach without the support of their colleagues though this isolation has been interpreted as ‘academic freedom’. Yet many teachers recognise the importance of interacting with the wider community to support their students. The teaching profession must better integrate itself into the wider community, not only because it results in better academic benefits, but because teachers also stand to benefit from this transparency.

Whilst the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” does hold merit, teaching is a profession where often the teacher is the only adult in the room. Unlike many other professions where teamwork is an essential part of success, it is possible for a teacher to shun cooperation and yet be an ‘effective’ teacher in the classroom. However, this creates many issues, by not embracing the wider community; consisting of other staff members and parents/care takers, teachers are isolating and further ‘mystifying’ the occupation.

In my first practicum, I experienced firsthand the consequences of teachers allowing their pride to stand in the way of collaboration. The teachers of the English staffroom had to hold a lunch meeting to decide whether or not they should share notes and handouts with each other. Not only did this disadvantage the students, resulting in classes being given an uneven amount of help, it also meant that teachers could not improve their craft due to a lack of constructive criticism. The lack of teamwork added another variable which contributed to whether or not students were successful. Socio-economic status is already such a big factor in academic success and by not providing an equal opportunity for all students at learn at the same quality, this further entrenches the possibility of success. When teachers are not willing to question the teaching practices of their colleagues due to an unspoken rule to just absentmindedly respect their peers, this leads to the privatisation of the craft. Without the ‘supervision’ of other teachers, this leads to a profession which is very divided since ‘universal’ academic standards cannot be established.

By isolating the teaching profession from the wider communities, teachers are harming themselves by unconsciously hurting the development of the occupation. When the profession is removed from the wider community, what rises to take its place is stereotypes and uneducated guesses. The privatisation of teaching has resulted in many unrealistic and unfavourable depictions of teachers in western popular culture and also a lack of influence within the political spheres.

Whilst a lot of teachers lament the fetishisation of statistics and the focus upon data as an over simplistic measurement of quality teaching. How else will the general public be able to evaluate the profession when teachers have not been the most vocal about what they do in the classroom? A big reason for the shift towards statistics is because the public has an outdated perception of education, that creativity isn’t as important as regurgitation or that written texts are still the ONLY important text in the English curriculum. Whilst, part of this blame falls upon the general populace for not keeping up to date with such an important public institution. Teachers must also shoulder the burden, for creating an ‘us versus them mentality’ and failing to educate the wider community about the shifting demands of 21st century education. John Holt summarised his concerns with the shift towards neo-liberal, economically driven education in the quote “The more we concentrate in trying to teach all the content, the less our students tend to learn.”

In the 2015 PISA tests, which are used to measure a national standard level of education, 9.1% of 15-year-olds Australians failed to achieve the basic levels of reading, maths and science literacy. The more Australia begins to slide down the international education hierarchy, the more the public begins to latch onto an ‘easy fix’ solution. This has generated the wave behind the shift towards neo-liberal education and the focus upon standardised testing and statistics by the wider community. And these changes to the general mindset has had negative impacts upon Australian education but it also has further cemented the negative perceptions of teachers in this nation. One of the most common criticisms of modern day university courses is that it is too focused upon the theoretical and academic aspects and thus when new teachers are finally placed in the workplace, they are insufficiently prepared to deal with the emotional burdens.

Thus the isolation of the teaching profession creates a vicious cycle; the public reacts by insisting that teaching returns back to something which can be easily measurable. Instead of embracing more ‘intangible’ skills which are necessary for a modern economy built on human capital, thus teachers are cornered to teach an outdated syllabus. For most teachers, this change is demoralising, as statistics dehumanises the complex and emotionally charged task that we’re required to perform. For many students, teachers are the most stable adults in their lives and their professionalism and attention may inspire or motivate; intangibles which cannot be measured. Yet these relationships become undervalued and instead classrooms have become more competitive as standardised testing ingrains regurgitation but at the price of creativity or passion. And when education becomes standardised to only reflect and emphasise white middle class values, then questions have to be asked whether education is fighting or creating inequality.

However, on the bright side, this rift between teachers and the wider community can be reversed, and I was fortunately enough to see the teaching staff, at my second placement, actively go out of their way to bond with the parents. Whether or not the teachers were aware they were following the Proficient Professional Teaching Standards (PPTS), a lot of the positive forms of communication between the two parties fell in line with these guidelines. Dot point 7.4 of the PPTS states that a ‘lead’ teacher will “take an active role in establishing community networks and provide external learning opportunities.”

Due to the high levels of refugee and English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) families at my second placement, the school provided weekly English lessons which were headed by a learning support teacher and a teacher who was bilingual in English and Arabic. Many parents were thankful for these opportunities to learn and this further allowed them to become more connected and active in the schooling life. These English classes would also provide opportunities for parents to get a translation on permission notes that get sent home and also a chance for parents who are not that familiar with the Australian education system to get some firsthand experience. Dot point 7.3 of the PPTS summarises the positive actions and attitudes displayed by this school in its goal of engaging with the wider community: “Build opportunities that engage parents in their child’s learning and the priorities of the school.” A lot of the miscommunication and uncomfortableness in parent-teacher relationships are marked by the factor that the welfare of a student is a very emotionally charged topic and because both parties involuntarily enter this relationship. Yet by providing these chances for parents to become more involved, the school is transforming from a simple educational institution to a trusted pillar of the Middle Eastern/ Islamic community.

In general, studies have drawn a link between increased parental involvement in schools and increased academic success; however questions must be asked whether this is ‘correlation and not causation’. Increased involvement may be because the parents are fluent in English or that one parent stays at home because they are middle class, all signs of social-economic and cultural capital. Those who argue that parent, teacher relationships are important state so based on two premises. The first premise is called the Pygmalion effect, where positive views of a student’s background and family members directly translates to better and more enthusiastic interactions with said student. Hughes, Gleeson and Zhang found that teacher’s perceptions of students accounted for 6.9% of variance in the academic rating of students. Likewise this is supported by Domagala-Zysk’s study  which found that 73% of students who are experiencing academic success, believed their teachers trusted them outside the classroom environment. Likewise, teachers were significantly more likely to rate a student’s social skills as positive or engaging if they perceived their own relationship to the student’s family in an optimistic light. Thus if it is a teacher’s job to help student’s succeed academically, the profession needs to shed the idea that it can ONLY help students within the classroom, instead more focus must be placed upon networking with the community.

Secondly, by unifying the school and the home environments, the student will be more exposed to positive views about schooling and learning. The reinforcing of these positive attitudes to school will not only give the student more incentive to succeed but also make it a lot easier to tackle issues which might transcend both the home and school environment. For an example, on issues of drug abuse, bullying and sexual health, the involvement of the parents and the wider community shows the importance of these topics but also relays to the students that this is an issue which occurs outside the safety of a school. My high school was very active in trying to establish a channel of communication between the parents and the teachers with many situations and opportunities for for meetings. On Saturdays mornings, my peers and I would complete in school sport together against other schools, allowing parents a chance to interact with teachers outside a ‘tense’ academic environment; like parent-teacher nights. This is a good way to build chemistry between the two parties since many parents feel that teachers only contact them with negative information about their child and rarely to compliment or to motivate. Dot point 7.1 of the PPTS states that ‘lead teachers’ will “model exemplary ethical behaviour when dealing with students, colleagues and the community” It is this desire to engage the parents and caretakers, to go beyond the ‘call of duty’, which separates a good teacher in the classroom from one whose influences will ripple across the community.

Because teaching is a very emotionally charged profession, it is important to collect evidence to become reveal the weaknesses in one’s abilities, but also as an insurance blanket to protect rookie teachers. Dot point 5.5 of the PPTS details the importance of amassing information not only to relay to the parents but so teachers can better understand how to improve their craft: “Monitor, evaluate and revise reporting accountability in the school to meet the needs of students/ parents.” In order to rationally explain why you assigned a student a certain mark, it is important that teachers, particularly rookie teachers, assemble model responses which demonstrate the difference between an A, B, C and D mark. These scaffolded examples will make parent-teacher nights a lot smoother as teachers will be readily able to highlight their thinking behind a certain mark with a physical reference at hand. This preparation shows that you’re merely following a rationale structure when marking, and that any poor or low marks you’ve assigned are not because of bias. And this sense of professionalism is something which rookie teachers need to embody in order to protect themselves against questions of ability from parents and students alike.

Furthering emphasising this point of protecting one self, I also think it would be helpful if teachers collected assessments off students, this is getting easier and easier in an increasingly technological world, since a lot of the assessments are now submitted electronically. However, even for writing in-class examinations, I think it would be wise to maintain either a physical or electronic copy. If a school wide system is implemented, the documenting of student work can become a routine. For an example, when it is time to hand back assessments, write the feedback on a separate card and then go through the questions about the assessments with the class. When the class is done reflecting on their efforts and they understand how or why they scored well or poorly, collect back the assessments but let them keep the feedback card. This a written example of what the strengths and weaknesses of the class are, but also allows teachers a chance to reflect on how they need to improve their teaching: For an example, what were the specific topics most students tended to forget and why? Did they understand the literacy requirements of the discipline? As the education system becomes more and more academic and there is greater focus upon students excelling at their studies, teachers must collect this data in order to open the channels of communication with parents about their child’s grades. Dot point 6.3 of the PPTS requires teachers to do more than just teach in the classroom, they must be constantly trying to improve their craft and devising new methods to further engage the students and their parents. Yet this is a tall task if the teacher does not have any data to reflect back upon, and without such information, the teacher’s opinions of how to improve usually don’t move past the stage of speculation.

It is time for the teaching profession to drop the belief that teachers ONLY work within classroom. In an increasingly digital world, technology has opened many new doors of communication which do not require a lot of time or energy. It is up to the teachers to reach out to the wider community in order to educate them about what and how exactly the teaching profession has changed within the 21st century. Not only does interacting with the parents and carers have been shown to have a positive academic and social effect upon the students (the primary concern of any teacher), it can also dispel the misconceptions which plague the teaching profession. By being more vocal, perhaps teachers can accumulate more social and political capital needed to shift education away from standardised testing and towards ‘intangible’ values like creativity and technological literacy. Teaching has always been a ‘public service’ and it is time that the occupation truly embraces this title.

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”
– John Dewey

Protected: Top 25 Most Important Songs Part 2

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The Mental Drug of Mediocrity

I was strolling with my friend, Jacob, both of us eagerly awaiting the challenges and joys which would accompany our third year at university. The cold Autumn wind had began to taint the warm earthy buzz of Summer and all around me, joyful optimism was painted upon the faces of my fellow peers. I asked about Jacob’s trips to Papa New Guinea and what lessons he could take away from such a polarising experience.

“I learnt that… That being a good person and wanting to help people really means nothing, it means nothing if you are not currently engaged in helping others.” Over a month later, this phrase has still resonated deeply with me.

There have been many quotes which have expressed a similar opinion, but to hear it from a close friend with similar ideas and values really shifted my perspective. It is very easy to swallow the “tranquilizing drug of gradualism” it is very easy for one to slip into a state of dull acceptance, “I’m a good person, I help people when I can.”

Except, when was the last time I had been involved in charity? It had been years since I gave up my precious time to help those facing difficult situations. How could I claim to be a good person if my existence didn’t positively change the lives and attitudes of my peer citizens? Values such as honesty, friendliness and acceptance are not traits or characteristics which should be celebrated, they are to be expected from any decent human being.

I write this to any one reading, do not be lulled into a mental state of mediocrity, good is never enough if better is possible. rhetoric can never be a substitute for action, the people who talk through their actions are the ones who will have a lasting legacy upon this world. People who dream with their eyes open are the ones whom history shall sing praises about. The call to action has been sounded and it has invited you to help others who share this beautiful planet with you.

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
– Pericles

The Passing Orange of Autumn (A Dime A Dozen)

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The young lady stood opposite the bricked house. An imposing oak door guarded the mouth of the building, its windows sealed shut and the curtains drawn she climbed the staircase and knocked. She retreated near the faded gate, inspecting the elderly woman scurrying down the stairs.

The woman’s orange scarf blended in amongst the autumn scenery. After a quick greeting the pair journey down the pavement, the crisp maple leaves softening their step. A gentle wind blew as if to assist them toward ‘’are you ready for your psychiatry session today?’’ asked the young woman her voice laced with strength and confidence, her amber eyes focused upon the frail croaked body of her chest. ‘’I am here to help you deal with the death of your husband.’’

The old woman nodded, her eyes faced upon the grey concrete ‘’how does it feel, what emotions are you experiencing?’’ questioned the young lady as she slowed her pace to match her clients. The crackling of leaves was interrupted by the elderly woman’s mumblings ‘’sorrow and overwhelming loneliness. ’The psychiatrist nodded her head; she had expected such an answer. “There are a few steps you must follow, firstly acceptance of reality, secondly establishing a network of friends and thirdly-.” The old woman interrupted, the sleep in her eyes banishing. “My dear, dealing with loss is not a formula; you can never heal from the death of a loved one… Just learn to live with it.” She continued calmly, “The scars of loss can never heal they will just fade with time.” The pair continued to walk down the street, the psychiatrist opened her mouth but her client began to speak again… “I still forget he’s gone, I bring out two cups of tea, I still cook two plates of food and wake up expecting his smile.”

Maple leaves danced with the wind as the pair walked down the street. Suddenly the elderly woman grabbed the younger lady’s hand, “Come I will show you where we first met!” They paced down the street ignoring the speeding cars and the hordes of weary people, the birds began to sing in the background. The old lady asked questions about the psychiatrist’s family and friends. She explained work had consumed her life and she had little time for leisure and enjoyment; it had been months since she had last spoken with her parents. The elderly woman shook her head and asked, the grey skies casted a sombre tone on the scenery.

They arrived at an empty park. The play equipment had decayed under the pressures of time. The old woman pointed to a large stump that had once been the foundation of a magnificent tree. ‘’He tried to impress me by climbing that tree…silly, he fell and broke his arm.’’ The young lady giggled, too aware of how emotions of love overwhelmed logic. The elderly woman slumped into the swings ‘’He would push me here…we would meet every weekend.’’ The old woman cleared her throat ‘’you know when you age and mature, trivial matters like money and fame disappear and the most important things like love and pride resurfaces.’’ The psychiatrist stood silent absorbing the knowledge of her ‘’client.’’ “Our society has always been a materialistic one and so many young children lose the joys of simplistic living in the dreams of excess.”

The elderly woman continued preaching her wisdom until the young lady asked ‘’will you be able to cope?’’ her concern evident in her voice. The elderly woman smiled and patted her shoulder. ‘’You just listening to me speak has made me forget about the pain temporarily.’’ With that she stood up grabbed her psychiatrist’s hand and began to retrace her steps home. The swing swung sadly for a few more moments before it halted completely as if a ghost of the past was taking its final leap.

The pair walked silently, not wanting to shatter the beautiful moment with the burdens of life. The two walked past a young girl bubbling with immense happiness and she realised how much time’s hands had shaped her. Gone was her sparkling joy, new replaced with materialistic desires and fascinations. ‘’Remember to visit your parents’’ smiled the elderly woman ‘’they must miss you incredibly.’’ Her voice wheezy from exhaustion, the crunch of fresh maple leaves announced their arrival.

After a final exchange of words the woman unlocked the gate and shuffled up the stairs. The psychiatrist remembering she had missed one vital part of the elderly woman’s life asked.. ‘’Wait! What’s your name?’’ The client turned around and explained, ‘’Names are just labels, you know my history, my fears and values is that not enough?’’ With one last smile she closed the large brown oak door.

Tang Dynasty: The State of Perfect Dilated ‘Chineseness’

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The Tang dynasty was often considered the perfect embodiment of Chinese culture and values, praised for being a sophisticated and influential period of Chinese history. Paradoxically however, the Tang ruling family had distinct connections to the nomads on the steepe and to cultures which were considered inferior in contrast to agriculturally based Chinese. The Tang dynasty was a period where the foundations of Chinese identity were infused with foreign influences, yet these values would become permanent staples of Chinese history.

Under the Tang, China took significant steps towards embracing commercialization as trade with foreign countries became progressively more essential to the economic prosperity of the empire. The evolution of Buddhism from a dogma with undisputed Indian roots to a belief system which was inherently Chinese also occurred during the Tang dynasty. This would solidify the importance and legacy of the faith throughout every aspect of China for many centuries afterwards. The Tang was significantly because it set the precedent for every Chinese dynasty afterwards: It signified the transition from medieval China to early modern China, where the nation became the cornerstone of the East Asian world.

Under the Tang dynasty, the dichotomies Chinese identity began to shift into something which was more culturally inclusive. Whilst the Chinese continued to see themselves as culturally superior to their neighbours, the distinctions between ‘barbarians’ and ‘Chinese’ began to blur during this period. The nomadic and Turkish roots that the Tang family had meant the infusion of outside steepe beliefs and practices was supported by the government.

Under this period, China’s shift towards commericialisation also resulted in cultural exchange between nations, though this will be explored later in the essay. It is important to understand that the changes and their repercussions were often interlinked and should not be seen as inherently separate. During the first half of the Tang dynasty, China began re-establishing political connections to ‘barbaric’ states as they fostered policies of expansion. This included marrying princess off to noble families living on the steepe to create the Sino-Altaic alliance with Central Asian nations. This progress was arguably only possible due to similar diplomacy, political networks and ideologies between the Tang ruling family and other surrounding aristocrats.

The Tang Empire also lead wars of expansion into neighbouring states like Korea, Japan and North Vietnam in an attempt to retrieve the territory held by the Han dynasty. The Tang emperors desire to emulate the Han dynasty is a reoccurring theme throughout their rule combined with the attempt to solidify their perception as one of authentic ‘Chineseness.’ This is also reflected in the Tang’s support of Daoism, an unmistakably Chinese dogma which was given the title of the state’s highest religion in 625 and 637. At this stage Buddhism had yet to undergo sinification and thus the stigma of being culturally foreign had not faded; a stigma that the Tang tried to avoid. The Tang’s decision to change their capital’s name from Daxingcheng to Chang’an; after the capital of the Han empire, further reflects the Tang’s desire to portray themselves as the rebirth of the Chinese nation.

The Tang was a period of transformation, the dynasty near the end of its reign was vastly different to the dynasty founded by Li Yuan in 618. Despite the Tang’s attempts to reassemble an empire similar to the Han in terms of size and cultural legacy, the Tang abandoned many policies and institutions whose origins could be found in the Han. Cultural exchange is a relationship that worked both ways and whilst the Tang Empire was exporting Chinese values to its neighbours, its society was also being shaped by external forces.

A few of these changes included eliminating the practice of periodically redistributing state owned land to families and eventually curbing the prominence and power of elite families. Generally these trends resulted in greater freedom for individual, families and business which opened the possibility of increased international trade, which was partly responsible for rising levels of urbanization. On a smaller scale, horse riding and the adoption of the lute into Chinese culture reflects blurring of barriers between the ‘barbarians’ and authentic ‘Chinese.’ Though the Tang family tried to hide their alien connections, steepe practices such as levirate marriage and the killing of one’s kin for the throne were often practiced, much to the shock of their ‘Han’ Chinese subjects. It is often argued that the Sui and the Tang dynasties were the processors of the Yuan, apart from their ‘barbaric’ heritage amongst all three dynasties; they all lead China through a period of capitalism through expansionist policies like warfare and increased trade.

During the Tang, the cultural and economically heart land of China shifted southwards, thus allowing the eventual perceptions of being ‘Han’ or ‘Chinese’ to be firmly associated with the geography under the Yellow River. This is partly responsible for the interpretation of southern Chinese values and beliefs as the quintessential foundation of ‘Han’ identity even during the Qing Empire, when the Manchus were the ruling minority. Part of the shift was due to the Sui dynasty opening up the Yangzi River’s drain basin and after the marshy low lands were drained, the southern China’s agricultural productivity increased dramatically. The prototype of a distant but militarily superior northern capital controlling the south and using its agricultural output to support the government and foster trade became the standard for many empires afterwards.

As the ‘silk’ roads which allowed trade between Central Asian and Eastern Asia were disrupted by the rise of a Tibetan state and the growing influence of Islam on the western regions of China, the Tang government turned towards exchanging goods through sea trade. Because many of the southern cities were located along the coast, moving into sea based trade was a natural and effort method of trade. These rekindled trade links lead many foreigners to settle in China and vice versa, an important step for the further distortion of traditional Chinese identity.

The urbanization and commercialization of the Tang Empire created the perfect conditions for China to enter its most prestigious and respected era of literature since artistic production had shift away from the static nature of the courts into the increasingly wealthy urban cities. The poems and stories reflected their place of origin and were usually located within a metropolitan, with reoccurring themes like leisure and relaxation found within brothels and other pleasure establishments. Ironically a lot of China’s greatest texts emerged not during a period of isolation where Chinese values were allowed to seep into society without foreign contamination, but during a period where the boundaries and distinctions of society were challenged and altered.

The Tang dynasty more than any Chinese government before them were successfully in spreading the foundations of Chinese culture to the surrounding nations. Though increased international trade to countries such as India, Korea and Japan played a significant role for this exchange. A defining trait of the Siu and Tang was their cultural inclusiveness, no doubt partly due to their non-Chinese lineage. Whilst China still considered itself the benchmark for civilization and the centre of the world, her condescending attitudes to surrounding barbarians had softened. Many East Asian states often sought some form of recognition within China’s arrangement of world order even if it meant their country would be placed in a position of submission. States like Vietnam, Korea and Japan adopted traditional Chinese calligraphy as their official written language and paid tribute to the more powerful Tang government as vassals. Similarly elite Chinese fashion and music became the norm for other Asian courts which were quick to attach their name to the mystique and grandee of the established Chinese culture. Confucian principles like the patriarchy and filial piety are just some of the lingering elements found in many East Asian countries spread through contact with the Tang Dynasty.

It was during the period of Tang rule that Buddhism evolved into a belief system embedded with traditional Chinese beliefs, thus shattering the foreign label which had followed it since its conception in India. Whilst Daoism was the state endorsed religion, Buddhism was arguably more influential and popular and it’s politically, culturally and religious significance was cemented during the Tang dynasty. Unlike Daoism, Buddhism was much intertwined with the commoners and monasteries played a noticeable part in society, sometimes acting as a hostel, hospital or orphanage depending on its context. It could be argued that Buddhism thrived in the subsequent chapters of Chinese history because unlike Daoism it seemed more approachable and relatable to the majority of Chinese citizens.

Buddhism experienced two periods of change where its teachings and philosophies were reinterpreted until it underwent intense sinification and thus emerged as Chinese Buddhism. From the time Buddhism entered China around the Han dynasty to the year 400; specific elements of Buddhism were emphasized only if they were synchronized with existing Chinese beliefs. From 400-600, Buddhism in China was reinterpreted without cultural bias, Chinese thinkers sought to understand the faith from its origins which often meant embracing an Indian or Central Asian perspective. This shift in thinking coincided with India entering its ‘golden age’ under the Gupta government, which saw India make advancements in many fields like science, philosophy and engineering, allowing India to rise as the cultural and intellectual heartbeat of Asia.

However as the Tang rose to prominence in the 6th century, the imbalance of power tipped in favour of China, creating the ideal situation to nourish a Chinese interpretation of Buddhism that rejected external readings. The first signs of India losing its grip upon Buddhist dogma occurred in 601 and 602 when the Sui emperor Wen ordered a large festival to celebrate China’s possessions of the Buddha’s remains. This claim legitimized China’s influence on the changing nature of Buddhist teachings. Emperor Wen also ordered texts recording the festival to be translated into Sanskrit symbolically reversing the movement of religious writings and ingraining a uniquely Chinese perspective into Buddhism.

As the Tang Empire started to rule China, India began to transition out of its golden period of discovery and innovation and increasingly Central Asian was experiencing Islamification. This influx of foreign culture into India eventually resulted in the Muslim conquest by the 9th century which drove Buddhism out its stronghold; the Ganges. Reinforcing the relocation of Buddhism into China was the belief that by the 6th century Buddhism was slowly fading into obscurity within India and the Asian continent in general. Thus when Buddhism was re-established in Tang China, there was a belief that the new age of the religion required new texts to spread a modern approach to the dogma. As stated before, there are vast differences between the more tradition variants of Tibetan and Indian Buddhism in contrast to the Chinese version: These included a stronger focus on deities and the importance of master-disciple lineages in the latter. The sinification of Buddhism is clear as the significance of the master-disciple lineages is a direct link to Confucian ideals such as a hierarchical male-eccentric society and beliefs such as filial piety. Other examples of sinification include the assimilation of famous Indian Buddhist figures like King Manjusri which by the 11th century it was widely accepted that he was born in the western regions of China.

This sinification of Buddhism is a key element of the Tang dynasty which had major repercussions in following chapters of Chinese history. Even today the perception of Buddhism as a belief system which originated not from India but rather East Asia still persists. The breakdown of trade routes from China to Central Asia due to the rise of Islam meant that China looked towards the East for trade and expansion, another factor why Chinese Buddhism contains many unorthodox concepts in comparison to Indian or Tibetan variants.

The rise of Buddhism in China was partly responsible for Mongolia’s eventual adoption of the belief and thus planted the seeds for a very complicated Tibet and China relationship; one which has originally started from that of a priest and master respectively. Likewise as the popularity of Daoism faded particularly in the Yuan dynasty, Buddhism gradually became more intertwined with politics with rulers like the Tang Empress Wu stating she was the reincarnation of Maitrya, an action which was not uncommon.

The Tang dynasty was a period of immense change in Chinese culture and identity, however underlying this transformation, aspects of Chinese society was becoming progressively more distinct, particularly in the second half of the empire. The three elements of change, Buddhism, commercialization and the adoption of nomadic practices, discussed within this essay is highly interwoven and their impact on society should be acknowledged as a whole instead of being analysed as separate factors.

 

Without the Tang terminating some customs like the annual division of government owned land or restricting the influence of the elite families, trends like capitalism or urbanization would not have happened. The exchange of goods and products would later lead to the spread of Chinese philosophy amongst East Asia and it is argued part of the reason why Buddhism first appeared in China was because of the demand of silk in India. Similarly the rise of the Tang and the adoption of horse riding and assimilation of levirate marriage into court signified the blurring of Chinese identity. The Tang dynasty was and is regarded as the model for a perfect Chinese state, which was economically and militaristically successful whilst still being fundamentally Chinese. Ironically, on a closer examination the Tang Dynasty was also responsible for incorporating many cultural values which was considered alien to many of its subjects; forever changing the dichotomies of ‘Chineseness’.

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Subtle Rhetoric. (A Dime A Dozen)

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“Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.”

These following submissions are part of my Rhetoric course at the University of Sydney, I’m required to submit around 80-100 words every week as a requirement to pass my course. (obviously my submissions completely broke this word ‘limit’…) Hopefully, this is an enjoyable read as it details my thoughts on rhetoric, it’s uses and how it effects society.

Friends, Romans, lend me your ears!

Intangible Consumerism.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s work is very similar to the lecturer who believed that fundamentally language is about quotations and paraphrasing and thus there can be no real sense of creativity since the medium used to translate the ideas are socially constructed.

This made me question the purpose and the legitimacy of copy right or patenting, is this just a method for companies to store up ideas and inventions? Are ideals like trade mark and copy right just a product of a consumeristic society? Or is it used to heighten one’s ego? Giving their words or beliefs legitimacy because of their association to an idea or item that is recognised as their ‘personal’ production? Personally I think capitalism, pride and financial gain are the three biggest contributors to a world where intelligence and ideas can licensed.

Lost in Translation.

As the world becomes more and more connected with the rise of technology, the distinction between cultures and nations have been blurred with the internet becoming a powerful medium where people can experience a wide variety of texts. There has always been critics of translated texts, personally I am a big fan of anime (Japanese animation or cartoon) and there’s a huge split down the community about the authenticity about translation animes.

However just like translation can take away from a text, it can also add meaning which may be more relevant to the audiences. In some ways translation can be compared to adaptions, such as Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann, which took a traditional text can placed it into a different cultural environment, though no one questions the validity or the purpose of those adaptions. My views on translation has been directly influenced by something my year eight English teacher talked about; The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes. Whilst this may be influenced by my relative mentality, I believe that once a text is created, the author loses their position of authority on it since different interpretations of the same event, book, and sentence etcetera will be supported by varying experiences, all of which are just as valid.

I guess it is up to individual viewers to decide whether they value complete ‘authenticity’ or the injection of a ‘foreign’ perspective.

Apples and Oranges.

In today’s tutorial the class (spear headed by Benjamin) discussed how national perceptions are social constructions within involve the participation of the said nation along with the international communities which all contribute to the final image. In some ways this could be seen as the situated ethos of the nation which is an accumulation of the perceptions and surrounding stereotypes around a nation. Despite the statistics (logos) which reflect the modern, technological society that most Australians live in, the typical belief that all Australians are Caucasian surfers with blonde curly hair who are also ironically desert dwellers exist.

Though instead of pointing how the creation of beliefs and perceptions are a joint product between multiple parties, I think it’s interesting how societies will always define themselves in comparison to other nations. Australians share a lot in common with the British, a similar language combined with a capitalistic society with democracy as its social foundation. However Australians proudly uphold the ‘Crocodile Dundee’ image whilst the English will joke about their fetish for tea and biscuits.

This is another issue I have with the media, it’s over simplistic rhetoric is both manipulative and false. It aims to present easy to consume stories and images for the busy and largely ignorant masses. These over generalisations will often reinforce the already socially accepted stereotypes and thus trapping society in a dangerous cycle of self-delusion.

Rhetoric and how we word and portray ideas is important my friends.

Is Technology indistinguishable from Magic.

Rhetoric is something which is constantly evolving, it evolved under the Humanism movement, it defined itself against the scholastic movement and during the Industrial Revolution it became less and less important as economics opened up trade and communication amongst different nations with different languages. With the spread of the internet, rhetoric has also undergone changes as communication adapts to an increasingly shrinking world.

In my opinion, the internet has allowed unknown individuals to publish their thoughts anonymously meaning that ethos is becoming less and less important and instead there is a larger focus upon the strength of one’s arguments. Likewise powerful influences like situated ethos have been nullified by the internet as the author’s physical appearance and socio-economic status are hidden from sight. I also believe that pathos is harder to effectively implement and aggressive tactics such as intimidation would be poorly received as those rhetorical strategies often require face to face communication or at the very least the use of body language to subtly convey certain emotions and feelings.

I also believe that the main purpose of modern rhetoric is not to ‘persuade’ but rather to simply communicate or pass along a certain message or theme, this is due to the widening audience which can access a speech, article, essay, comment or picture. This means persuasion is harder than ever as the audience will have a wider spectrum of values and beliefs ingrained into them by their culture, thus simple and effective communication seems to be more important than ever as language barriers become more apparent than ever on the internet.

Personally I don’t see this evolution of rhetoric as something which destroys the ‘art’ or ‘soul’ of rhetoric, which is a form of knowledge or practice which has under gone many different transitions and likewise a 16th century rhetorician might of complained about the destructive capabilities of the printing press, something which is integral to modern society.  Instead I think it is necessary that rhetoric evolves along with the world so it does not become an outdated skill left to gather dust upon a bookshelf, void of all relevance.

The Essence of Rhetoric. (A Dime A Dozen)

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The Death of Socrates, by Jacques-Louis Davis.

These following submissions are part of my Rhetoric course at the University of Sydney, I’m required to submit around 80-100 words every week as a requirement to pass my course. (obviously my submissions completely broke this word ‘limit’…) Hopefully, this is an enjoyable read as it details my thoughts on rhetoric, it’s uses and how it effects society.

Friends, Romans, lend me your ears!

Has Rhetoric Sinned?

Is Rhetoric inherently bad or good? Is Rhetoric simple persuasion? A gentle nudge towards a certain stance or is it blatant manipulation where the strong orators reign supreme and unchallenged? There was a belief that rhetoric often failed to add anything of value and instead a rhetorician would just twist the truth for self-gain. However I see the study of rhetoric as a beautiful field of knowledge which like any skill or information can be used for positive or negative causes (extreme amounts of pathos incoming), much like how a bird watcher doesn’t study birds so they can shoot them down.

I feel like some of the greatest moments in history are have been blessed by rhetoric, Martin Luther King’s skillful manipulation of rhetoric to promote civil rights for citizens of colour. The spectacular and elegant writing found in the American Declaration of Independence to haunting words that Socrates uttered just before his execution are held up to the pinnacle of rhetoric. All of which have left a mark on mankind because of the elegance of the speaker or the sophistication of the chosen words.

Is manipulation really so bad? Isn’t that exactly what any text or any piece of literature does? Movies are deceptive because the audience assumes the camera to be their window into another world, so camera angles and lighting which all evoke different emotions within the audience are subconsciously accepted. One of my favourite quotes in V for Vendetta is “Artist use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up”, one could argue that the I Have a Dream speech adds no new information, but I would disagree, rhetoric unlocks the potential found within language, turning it into a tool for good or bad. The question is with any information…How will society use this tool?

How Far Can You Take Relativism? 

Context is everything. The third tutorial focused primarily upon the referent and signified and signifier and how the omnipresent context which surrounds every individual affects all interpretations. If the meaning of words and phrases can be altered based on their subjective context, then why can’t this view can be extended towards morals and beliefs?

Plato’s cave is a fantastic example of this which highlights how meaning of a word, event, action etcetera will be based on one’s position. Applying this relative position onto morals could you argue that ‘evil’ things like murder and human sacrifice are can be deemed ‘okay’ or ‘understandable.’ Unless we were to conclude that there wasn’t a single person who was moral during the Aztec empire or prior to the Thirteen Amendment. Whilst I believe theoretically you cannot claim authority on subjective matters like what is morality? What constitutes evil? I believe that relativism is impractical for building a society upon, as acts like murder, rape and thief must be punished. I guess that begs the question, if philosophy and human thinking was given a choice, should it walk down the path of pure idealistic logic or practicality?

Love, Hate Relationship.

Intimidation and integration are two rhetorical methods both with their positives and negatives and their specific uses for an orator. Both are heavily intertwined with ethos and one must consider their ethos and purpose before applying either of those tactics. Intimidation is the tactic of building up authority and using that sense of power and knowledge to belittle one’s opponent. Generally it can be said that orators who attempt to use intimidation will have to be more aggressive, and will have to actively assert their status on the argument. Thus one’s status must be considered before attempting this tactic since there are heavy consequences if implemented incorrectly. For an example, if a person with low status or with a history of being a ‘push over’ used this tactic, this will be very ineffective.

Ingratiation can be considered the opposite of intimidation, where instead of trying to actively push one’s authority onto the audience, integration is supposed to build a connection through pathos. Other ways to create a connection between the audiences include “As we all know” and “I think we’ve all felt …” Likewise ingratiation should generally not be used by people with high status, since it blurs the line between the audience and their level of ‘professionalism.’ Ingratiation can sometimes empower the audience whilst ‘dis-empowering’ the speaker since the orator aims to portray themselves as one of the majority.