Thursday, October 31, 2013

Informal Voice

                Much of the poetry published today rejects the organization and structure found in traditional works.  Moreover, these poems cannot be scanned for rhyme.  Identified as free verse and/or open form, lines can derive much of their rhythm from the “repetition of words, phrases, or grammatical structures” (Meyers 265).  In the literary works, “Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes, “Directions of Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague, and “First Practice” by Gary Gildner, the importance of informal voice lays at the surface of astonishing poetry.  In addition, Zen Meditation focuses on channeling the positive voices around you.    
                Langston Hughes’ “Thank You, Ma’am,” is simply a remarkable short story.  This short story, often used in K-12, teaches characterization in young individuals.  “Thank You, Ma’am” has an implied theme of kindness and trust, where the character’s motives and actions change towards the end of the story.  It is not only the theme of kindness and trust that Hughes’ readers learn, but also the importance voice plays in literary works.  Hughes’ development of his characters defines feelings and the associations they carry.  The use of specific words in the story creates a tone that infers that the author is trying to create an important message.
                “Directions for Resisting the SAT,” written by Richard Hague, seeks to uniquely establish its own patterns of open form.  Letting the structure grow out of the speaker’s inspiration, Hague distinctly shifts the readers’ attitude(s) away from the SAT and SAT Subject Tests.  In his continued use of open form poetry, Hague’s sensitivity to language, rhythm, and pauses are essential to understanding the speaker’s implications.  The poem achieves something that is accessible only through open form.  The ability to step away from his poem in the spacing between lines 15 and 16, demonstrates Hague’s success in structural integrity.  The poet’s working within open form works quite well in his extent to share attitude(s) toward the SAT.      
                In Gary Gildner’s poem, “First Practice,” the importance of voice contributes to the theme.  Although simple and straightforward, the use of irony cleverly casts the persona of Clifford Hill.  One wonders if this “first practice” even serves as an introduction to the opening athletic season.  Certainly, the effect of line spacing in line 13 serves as a detachment between the coach and team, or silence held together by nature.  The repeat of the word “now” in lines 12 and 27 suggest overtones of violence lurking beneath the surface of school sports.  Nevertheless, the promotion of voice in Gildner’s poem reveals how frequently it commands his poetry.
                This week’s Zen Meditation focused on finding significance in the simple pleasures of life.  I personally took this time to identify with my subconscious and conscious mind, which allowed me to channel positivity.  The aspects of this have allowed me to seek a happier place in everyday activities.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A single moment does not have to make or break you

          I have now begun to work one on one with the kids at Tunbridge and I hope to keep working with them so they can better understand the mataerial. The readings,  “Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague, “First Practice” by Gary Gildner, and “Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes, seem to all have a similar message that I have I also found while working with the kids. They all share a message that a single moment can but does not have to define you and that you alone make the choices that affect your life.
            In the first poem “Directions for Resisting the SAT”, the speaker is saying to go against everything that the SAT stands for and to really not even take it at all. He says, “Lie about numbers.” and Speak nothing like English.” which is the main subjects that the SAT is about. Richard Hague does not think that SAT is not reliable source for people including colleges to judge how smart you are that you decide your own path. He ends his poem by saying “Listen to no one. Make your mark on everything.” Every single person that wants to go to at least a decent college has to take the SAT and I believe that every single person feels anxious before taking the test because they have to do well in order to get into a good college. In the last few moments of class Mr. Graeff sent a student over who I knew struggled regularly in that class because I filed their quiz scores and they usually are very low. They were learning about mixed fractions and the teacher did an example with in front of the whole class so basically knew what he was doing but needed more practice. I also knew that this student very much resisted doing homework like in resisting the SAT. I advised him that, like you need to do the SAT to get into college, he needed to do his homework in order get better grades on his quizzes and tests.
            In the second poem, “First Practice”, the speaker is describing his very first day at practice including his physical and describes the demeanor of his new coach. I feel that the speaker is trying tell us that in this world you make your own decisions that shape your life. He says that he believes that dogs eat dogs and that he even killed for his country. He is showing how cruel the world can be and you have to be willing to fight for what you want. He then tells the players that if there are any “girls” present to leave now, which I believe was just his way to say if they were any weak players who thought they could not handle this team to leave. Gary Gildner wrote the words “No one, which were in “Directions for Resisting the SAT” too, in a single line and then finished the sentence with left which shows how they all made the decision to stay for better or worse at his practice. As I said earlier the student that I worked has to make the choice to do his homework because no one can really force him to do it but in the long run it will help him more than anyone.

            The last reading is a short story “Thank You, Ma’am” where Hughes describes an event where a boy tries to steal the purse from an older lady. The boy is stopped by the old lady when the strap is broken but instead of calling the police she yells at the boy asking him where his morals are and why does his face looks dirty. She then brings him to her house and even invites him to dinner. She tells him she did some stuff in the past that she was not proud of and still she gave him the ten dollars he wanted to take from her in order to buy some suede shoes. The woman gave the boy a second chance to do well with his life and told the boy to behave himself and never steal again. The boy in the story now has a choice with how to live his life and it is all up to him. When the student was practicing multiplying mixed fractions he had to turn them into improper fractions first then multiply them and then turn the fractions back into mixed. There was one problem where I believe the fraction was 88 over 20 and he was having trouble solving it so I taught him the trick I use to divide and subtract. I asked him what was the closest number to 88 that goes into 20 evenly and he said 80. Then I told him to subtract 80 from 88 and there was the answer. I feel that this was something that he could now use and he didn't know before and was grateful for me helping better comprehend the material.

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

            Lessons can be taught in many different ways. One can learn a lesson from others, like in “Thank you Ma’am” by Langston Hughes. One could learn from advice from more experienced people, as in “Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague, or in “First Practice” by Gary Gildner. Finally, one can also learn from the past, like in the play, “Dance of the Holy Ghosts”, written by Marcus Gardley. Each learning experience is unique and has certain benefits the others cannot offer.
            Langston Hughes’ poem “Thank You Ma’am” surprises the reader in many ways. A teenager is caught trying to steal an old woman’s purse, and her reaction is very unusual. Rather than being afraid or angry, the woman sets out to teach the boy a lesson. Through her affection, she teaches him not to steal to get money.  One would think that she would call the police to teach him a lesson; rather she takes responsibility into her own hands. She knows she is more capable of teaching him an important lesson than the law. She understands something must be missing in his life, which she attempts to fill for the brief time they spend together. By sharing a meal and talking to him as a real person, and understanding his needs, the old lady is able to teach the boy more effectively than one would think.
            Richard Hague teaches another unusual lesson in his poem. In a time where SAT’s are thought to be a “make or break” factor, Hague uses humor and hyperbole to try to teach students not stress out about the SATs, which is simply a test. Instead of directly saying this, he uses hyperbole to overstate what students should do. He suggests they do crazy things, in addition to not worrying so much about the SATs. This is a very successful way of giving advice. The over exaggeration of his other suggestions helps the reader realize how ludacris the stress around the SATs are.
            “First Practice” features an overzealous coach who inspires his team through fear. His way of encouraging them is by yelling, and calling them “girls”.  He reminds them of how much they dislike losing to teach them a lesson about winning. Sometimes, being tough is the best way to instill information in people’s minds. Some people find the anger to be an excellent motivation.
            However, the most effective teacher is experience. Most lessons have to be learned oneself. In “Dance of the Holy Ghosts” a musician Oscar is haunted by his past mistakes every day. His grandson, who he has not seen in years, comes back into his life suddenly, to tell him his only daughter has died. Oscar immediately has flashbacks of his dark past. Throughout the play, he struggles to overcome the demons from the past. In the end, he is able to learn from his past mistakes and do the right thing- perform at his daughters’ funeral. It was painful for him, but lessons often are. Even as an older man, there were still lessons he needed to learn and challenges to face.
            Lessons can be learned in many different ways, and at any time in life. No matter what age, one can always learn more. Sometimes these lessons come easy, by seeing others make mistakes. More often, unfortunately, these mistakes are often made ourselves. However, for each mistake there is a lesson learned, and from each lesson there is growth. In each story or poem, a character experiences growth from a lesson they learned- easy or hard.


To Have Value for Importance

These three pieces each hold individual life lessons that its reader can take with him or her and use them in his or her life. In Richard Hague’s “Directions for Resisting the SAT”, he displays the importance of paving one’s own success and not falling under commonly accepted societal restraints that “predict” one’s future. Gary Gildner’s “First Practice” is a poem that puts value in the mindset that it takes for a coach and his or her team to reach success through strong determination. Langston Hughes’ “Thank you, Ma’am” tells a story of not taking anything for granted for one totally random small act of kindness could really be the thing that changes someone’s life forever. These three pieces all have an echoing theme of the value of importance.
Richard Hague’s “Directions for Resisting the SAT” is a poem that depicts what it takes if a person would want to pave his or her own way to success. Although society may hold social standards and ways of doing things, Hague tells his reader to go against these norms. Hague implies that to be successful and to do things the traditional way is to be limiting his or her own potential. By giving this poem the title “Directions for Resisting the SAT”, Hague is stating that this standardized test is one of the widely accepted traditional ways of doing things that may not actually be at all useful and lucrative. That is to say that there are numerous ways of determining if a person is fit for something or not and the SAT is not one of them. Hague suggests to not let a test be the predictor of one’s future and instead to make that future for his or herself through his or her own and actual experiences. Hague says that a standardized test is not at all an accurate judge of character or intelligence. He is suggesting that the stresses and importance that society puts on these tests are absolutely useless since he believes there is no way they actually determine one’s future.
Gary Gilder’s “First Practice” tells a story of the strictness, seriousness, and rigidness that comes with preparing a team for a game. The intensity Gildner gives his poem makes it seem almost as if it is a sergeant getting his men ready for battle in a war when in reality it’s more like a coach’s speech as he tries to get his football team ready for a game. This poem provides imagery and sensory effects which have the power of transporting someone into that energy that surrounds a team. Gilder shows a retrospective lens that also has the strength to move someone especially if they have ever been in this sort of position before as either the coach or the player. The overall simplicity of the poem allows its reader to get a sense of the seriousness and importance Gildner has for this sport. This “all American” theme of this kind of sportsmanship intertwines the ideas of violence and teamwork in a way that can only be true for our culture. The last word of the poem holds the greatest amount of energy for it almost makes the reader feel the need to go out and start something for his or herself.
From a story of petty robbery comes Langston Hughes’ “Thank you, Ma’am”; a story that ends up holding great significance in the importance of changing other people’s lives for the better. Hughes’ character Roger is left to fend for himself and steel to make a living for himself since he has no family to support him. Ever so thankfully Mrs. Jones comes and, through the simple act of washing him up and giving him a meal to eat and money for himself, wealds the power to change Roger’s life for forever. Hughes implies that small acts of kindness although someone has attempted to do someone else wrong are the greatest ways to change the world. Hughes shoes that it all depends on how much an individual is willing to value that importance of kind gestures. Hughes recognizes that everyone in this world has a deeper meaning to do the wrong things in his or her life; in Roger’s case it was not just to buy blue suede shoes but also support himself. He portrays that all it takes is a person who has walked a mile in those same shoes to understand and want to revert a single person back to the pureness that he has the potential to be. The story teaches the importance on not taking things for granted and to have value for the simply extraordinary things that happen each and everyday.
Zen Meditation class teaches me to really have value for the simple moments in life that lead my mind away from it’s clutter and toward a clean, new, and refreshed start. I really get to see and appreciate the importance of just sitting and counting my breaths although it may still be hard to keep all my thoughts out of the meditation. The clarity that comes post meditation not only lets me see things in new lights but lets me find more value for them as well. I can confidently say that meditation not just in the class but alone has well is now a very important part of my life.