PR to the play

This Shakespeare’s work focuses on issues such as discrimination, racism, prejudice, etc. towards the Jews, this play is located in Venice. This work made me wonder and reflect on many things, why would we have so many prejudices towards someone just because of their religion? What is supposed to make them different from us? In the context that they give us in this play, the acts of injustice against them seem incredible to me, for example at the beginning of the film they show us how a Jewish boy is thrown into the river, for no reason or when Antonio spits on him directly in the face to shylock, a completely humiliating act for shylock and totally unnecessary on the part of Antonio.

Throughout the entire play, I really sympathized with Shylock, I put myself in his place in every misfortune that happened, and above all, I had a lot of empathy for his feelings, something that I did not do with any other character, much less with Antonio, when he was about to die by Shylock’s hands, instead of not wanting it to happen, I thought it was fair, since Antonio’s way of thinking and acting, despite the fact that during the play he also suffered a lot, I never liked. He always seemed to me an arrogant man, who felt superior to the Jews and who felt he had the right to do what he wanted and treat people, especially Jews, as he wanted, something that obviously does not have to be that way. , we are all equal and we all deserve to be treated equally, the latter is something that this work taught me, no one is superior to anyone.

At all times when watching the movie or reading the play, I had many emotions on the surface, such as anger for him, how they treated Shylock, a desire for justice towards the Jews, empathy with Shylock, especially when he gave his famous speech, I could feel how degraded he felt as a person and all for no valid reason, I could feel his desperation and with good reason, he had done nothing, literally the only thing they discriminated against him for was his religion.

Regarding the language of the work, on several occasions it was difficult for me to understand it, as a native Spanish speaker, understanding old English is quite difficult, there are too many words used in a different way than I know, phrases with contexts that I don’t I had an idea, but it also helped me develop my ability to investigate, since every time there was something I didn’t understand I started to research it on the internet.

In general, I can conclude that it is an excellent play, which transmits too many emotions to the reader and puts you in a position to decide who is right and who is wrong and what consequences are the correct ones to receive for each character. 

Mock Exam Reflection


Doing this paper one during the mock exam, I learned a lot about the mistakes I was making, mostly because I was not calm during the exams and could not analyze the texts because of that. 

  • I need to utilize the guiding question and use it to answer the question in a very specific
  • Using clear words with clear examples
  • Prepare good assertions that are supported with evidence (Good assertions are arguable) 
  • Simple is better than weird wording 
  • Keep it simple and clear 
  • When asked about the type of atmosphere, explain how it makes me feel and find evidence to back that up.
  •  DO NOT simply say amazing atmosphere or unique atmosphere. 
  • Explain how the author makes u feel a certain way.
  • Writing an effective conclusion: Add value to the essay and use this space as an opportunity to reflect on the discoveries of the essay. Here realizations can be stated. Are they new questions that have arised? Is there anything new that was discovered?

Mock Exam Reflection

Looking at the feedback from my mock exams honestly surprises me, as these are all things I have done wrong in the past and so improvement should have been noticeable by now. The main thing I am still struggling with is specifying my ideas and formulating clear, structured sentences. My writing still seems too broad and all over the place, whereas short sentences with one definite idea per sentence would be ideal. Having received this feedback in the past, definitely made me want to realize it in the mock exams, but I feel the pressure of the examination situation made me too stressed out and not think clearly. I need to organize my thoughts before I write and not get ahead of myself. I feel like I have the right idea for the analysis part but due to the fact that I clearly don’t plan it enough beforehand, it makes the essay unstructured and not concrete enough.

For the text extract “Devisions upon Greek Ground” I missed (or rather ignored) the dates above each paragraph. This would have definitely helped me in understanding the work better but as already mentioned, I was much too unfocused and not concentrated enough. For the poem, a similar situation occurred as the rush of writing down all my ideas made me create logical mistakes that can’t make sense in any way. I have read through each extract once more along with my essays and gone through the most common mistakes. I hope to practice and correct these for next time.

The area I scored most in, although still not amazing, is criterion D, language, but definitely leaves room for improvement. In order to improve this for the final exams in May, I feel I must re-read the works studied in school and look at pieces of great literature daily.


Mock Exam Reflection

After Receiving my feedback, I noticed I made many simple errors that could have been avoided if I had organized my writing better.

The Mock exam taught me that analyzing the type of text presented is crucial to making assertions. In Diversions Upon Greek Ground, I missed the dates at the beginning of each paragraph that could have helped me further analyze the text.

I am satisfied with my progress; however, there is still room for improvement. For the May exam, I will practice by reading literary works and getting familiar with complex text types.

Reflection on mock exam

Not going to lie, this week has been disappointing. I studied enough to at least expect a 4 on all my exams, but all I have gotten are 2-5. My predicted grades have dropped on all my subjects. The specially bad one was geography but I wont get into that.

For Paper 1 I feel like I could of practiced more when it comes to writing essays, but I am not sure where to start. I have now around 90 days to revise and study for every subject, but I’m not sure if I have the discipline to focus and study everyday. I hate not being able to focus on something and then feeling bad for not doing it, but the start is the worst. It is not hard to “study” for english, it’s technically practise, it is just boring to do so. A lot of writing will be involved, and I can also use the marking sheet  to mark myself, but I would still need to help of Mr. Macknight to check it. I do not want to disturb him in these difficult times of dealing with little kids practicing for paper 1/2.

I don’t work well under pressure and this paper made me realize that, my mind froze and it just skimmed over the passage. I never went knees deep into the passage, what was on-top that’s what I saw. There were some very crucial parts on the passage that I just skipped through that Mr. Macknight pointed out in the class. In class everything that he pointed out made sense, but he could have told me all that in the exam and I would of never understood.

I have to take initiative to start practicing because I made a lot of rookie mistakes on paper 1, and after a year of practicing you might think they would be done for, but they are not. I just need to get into that discipline of studying, which is easier said than done.

Mock Exam Reflection

After receiving feedback, I have learnt to carefully and calmly analyze the text and organize my thoughts in a way that is most effective. Through careful observation of the text, I can further execute my ideas and plan out the structure and main assertions that I want to discuss. Under stress I am unable to point out the key concepts that I want to talk about as clearly and my thoughts get unorganized. 

After our class discussion, I have found it very crucial to dissect the whole text and analyze everything. I realized that I skipped over key points that I could have talked about. For example in Divisions Upon Greek Ground, I completely skimmed over the dates that were present in the text. In the future, I will further examine and analyze the texts while remembering to stay calm as being under pressure and the accumulating stress will not benefit me in any way. 


Mock Exam Reflection

The English mock exam helped me to realize that I need to calm down and carefully read the passage before I start writing. I need to avoid getting stressed out and use my time more wisely. I was happy with my mark but I could have gotten a better one by just avoiding a few mistakes. I need to focus more on the analysis, reduce the amount of repeated words, and make sure that I only write in the present tense. These will be the main things I practice to ensure I get a better mark on the final exam. 

Mock Exams: Reflection

I am overall very disappointed with my performance on the English mock exam. I did not formulate my ideas into proper formatting or structure during both analyses of the texts. I think this is partly due to my stress level during the exam, but I also think it is due to my over-complicating of ideas, without formulating coherent thoughts. A step I will take in the future to improve my writing performance is to make an outline and spend a sufficient amount of time building a strong point of view.

One of the ways I can build a stronger perspective when writing about my essays is to understand what I am reading. Possibly understanding the metaphors, structure, and play on words will help me improve my analysis. After receiving feedback on my essays I know what to look for in the texts we are given. However, I find it frustrating that a grade could possibly be built on the knowledge of a religion or culture that many people may not be familiar with. It defeats the purpose of test-taking; being for the purpose of measuring ones understanding and knowledge of a subject. The second text was reliant on our background knowledge which we were not taught in the classroom.

By reading more literary works I hope to learn more advanced writing styles and techniques. I also hope to understand the metaphors pertaining to Christianity, rebirth, etc. Because I realize that many pieces of renowned literature pertain to a Christian outlook on the world.

Mock Exams Reflection

There are many things that I wished I could have done better after receiving my Mock exams, English is no exception.

Upon writing my essay, I did not focus on answering the guiding question immediately. Rather, I was too hard-wired on the process of writing because I was focusing on writing a long essay rather than a short one. So, since I did not want to write an outline on the exam paper, I had to conjured up my thoughts in my head and put the words down. This led to unorganized ideas and a lot of generalization in both of my essays. Overall I think I did worse than I could have done. Had I slowed myself down and give myself around 15 minutes to read, analyze and make a complete outline, I could have written better. On the flip side, I managed to give a considerable effort in fixing three primary mistakes when writing: using passive voice, the present tense and run-on sentences.

When I reached the second text in Paper 1, I was quite burnt-out from analyzing the first text. On top of that, I often have a hard time analyzing poems since they are short in nature and one has to focus on reading in-between the lines a lot. As a result, I could not make a complete analysis. Another thing that really hampered me from writing a complete analysis for a poem is the lack of knowledge in Easter. Although I can not bridge the gap in my knowledge about Western religion or culture (which can give me deeper insights upon analyzing), I can start with recognizing and breaking down poems in its very essential components better. Something that I can do for myself is reviewing Langston Hughes’ poems as a way to better study the meaning and components of poems.

Mock Exam Reflection

The mock exams allowed me to see what a real English A lit paper one looks like and how I need to use my time when writing it. When I first get the exam in my hands I need to more carefully and slowly read through it and make notes on how I might answer the question. I need to analyze it better to achieve a better mark. I got a better mark than I thought I would get which was nice to see. Overall I was happy with my mark but with a few slight changes I can bump my mark up. I missed a few important parts in both passages which related to Christianity but I found a way to make my writing work. More careful editing and decreasing the amount of repeated words will improve my writing for the final IB exam.

Paper 1 Mock reflection

I thought at first that the paper one exam was pretty alright, though I didn’t do well I feel better knowing what the exam outline will be like when we have to write our actual exams. I also know where I need to improve my writing skills more after writing paper 1.  The general feedback helped a lot as well, knowing what the most common mistake is has taught me what I need to look for next time and tells me as well that I’m not the only one who made that mistake as well. I will admit though that I made some stupid writing errors during the test, which taught me that I need to keep a calm and relaxed mindset so that those don’t happen in the actual exam.

I think overall that it was pretty good even though I made some stupid errors. For the next writing test, whether that be the exam or another practice paper, I know that I have to remain calm and relaxed while reading the text and answering the question. I also need to work on supporting evidence and examples that support my texts as well. Which I will work on and hopefully when I write another test or exam that’ll all have improved by then. I now know what I need to work on and improve some things as well, though some of the things I need to improve on were alright after reading my paper 1 I now know that they could be stronger. It’s gonna be a lot of work but I know that if I keep working hard I’ll be able to fix those mistakes and improve my writing skills.

Guilty or Innocent?

The information provided for this case is vague. No specific details of bystanders or anyone who tried to help the victim who faced the bullying. We are able to identify the bully did steal from him. This can be seen here; “Other students call him names, make fun of him, push him around occasionally, cheat him out of his possessions or pocket money — or just take them.” This is a legitimate crime and falls under the bully being charged for larceny. With the information provided this is his first offense therefore, he is a first time offender. On the victims end, he is rightfully guilty and charged with assault with a weapon, and aggravated assault. The motive for it can be considered however, instead of him reaching out to the schools administrators for support, he assaulted him with a baseball bat and that violates the Canadian court law. Therefore, this court herby sentences both boys for 5 months of counselling, 80 hours of community service and 1 month suspension from school. This court is dismissed.

“The Bully and His Victim”

I would hate to be a judge on this case. The case is complex, and specific details are few and far between. The only timeline we are given is that the victim broke his bully’s knee in the spring. Due to the severity of the incident, we can assume that the bullying has persisted for an extended period of time. However, we do not have an accurate timeline of the bullying. Further, both sets of parents have filed lawsuits, meaning two separate lawyers or legal teams have determined that either side has a case. This means there is likely legal precedent in place. This means a panel of judges would have three options. These options are to throw out the case, create a new legal precedent, or violate existing legal precedent. However, the text alludes to authority figures being aware of the bullying, “No one is prepared to defend or support him against this abuse.”(ll. 3-4). As a result, we can assume not only that other students knew of the abuse, but adults did as well. In light of this, the victim’s actions may be justified as self-defense. Further, the abuse must have been extreme, to the point of it being noticeable, in order to justify such a violent response.

Given the small amount of details, it is difficult to determine a verdict. However, given the implied severity and longevity of the abuse, the bully should be given a lengthy suspension, or expulsion. Further, the victim should be given a suspension, as well as a hand-written apology letter to the bully and his family.

Langston Hughes

It seems to me that Langston Hughes’ poetry is somewhat confusing but at the same time when he understands it, he transmits many things and many ideas that for some people may be somewhat debatable. I believe that this type of poetry addresses very important and significant issues in today’s society, such as racism, discrimination, among others. In the poems he presents us with different types of situations about these issues where erroneous behaviors are shown and where he expresses his desire that it not be that way. I feel that the author manages to sympathize a lot with the people who read it because he uses very relevant situations and that each person has their opinion in a different way.

I think the author has a very peculiar way of writing which makes it somewhat difficult to understand. I also feel that his verses don’t have much musicality, however his frustration is noticeable in them.

Reflection on Langston Hughes

I admire Langston Hughes’s work. He is brilliant at creating images and using freedom and justice in his work. However, his writings did not connect with me or make me think and contemplate questions as much as other writings. I have never gone through the events that he and other African Americans have, nor do I wish ever to have to, so I have a disconnect and lack of experience in the trials of his life and experience. Another quality of Hughes’s poems is displaying the world around him and breaking down stereotypes of the time.

I found his use of simple, understandable words and sentences enjoyable, as there was little to get in the way of what he does best in his imagery and ability to cement his point. He focuses less on wordplay and more on displaying elaborate imagery that is easy to see. This is an apparent influence from Whitman and his free verse style. This effect works best in his poems of lists, like in “The Negro who speaks of river” and “Negro” where the effect of his use of imagery is the clearest to the picture and is unimpeded by anything.

His work did not provoke the same intense contemplation that other stages and poems have for me, but I think it has to do with the fact I was not the intended recipient of most of his writings. Having never experienced discrimination, a line like (There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.” (l.15-16) doesn’t have the same impact as a line like “And in that sleep what dreams may come” from William Shakespeare. Having witnessed loved family members pass away after a year of suffering from dementia and cancer makes a line like this burn into my mind like a hot iron after they were gone and buried. This line of Shakespeare raised questions I had never asked and gave me solace one day, for I would know the answer in the future, but for now, I could just ponder it and think of the possibilities. I got nothing like this for Langston Hughes, but I have not experienced racism and discrimination, but everyone is acquainted with the reaper.

Hughes’ work makes ample use of the problems faced by African Americans of the time and incorporates them into his work. Examples of contouring stereotypes like that all black people are the same using “Deferred” and lines like “This year, maybe, do you think I can graduate?” (l.1) and ”All want is to see my furniture paid for” (l.25) he uses these and many more examples like to make his point. Another example is in Dream Boogie, where “Sure, I’m happy! Take It away” (l.15-17) is used as a satire that black people are always happy and never unhappy.

I thought Langston Hughes’s work was brilliant. His effect seems to have influenced many people and is a shining example of the work we can create even under pressure and discrimination. Although Hughes has many qualities in his work, that was little for me to ponder as many questions and imagery went over my head as I had never experienced anything like it.




Outsmart Your Brain

In the text we can read the best way to understand a reading and the reason of why many times we don´t understand what we read. the reading give us a few tips of what we should do and what we don´t. After read this I can have a better idea of what I can do to have a better reading comprehension.

Now that I read the most common mistakes that people do when reading, I realized that I make many mistakes when I read a text. One of the mistakes that I do most is highlighting what I consider most important in the text without first knowing a little about the subject, now I know that it is not something that helps you to better improve understanding. Like this, there are many errors that now I know what to change.

Outsmart your Brain reflection

Daniel, T Willingham’s Outsmart Your Brain chapter 5 has gave my new insightful improvements to make on my writing and reading skills.  When we study, we tend to focus on the tasks we can most easily control such as highlighting and rereading but these practices only give the illusion of mastery. As Dan Willingham, explains, familiarity is not the same as comprehension. Willingham suggests the use of SQ3R, which stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. The reading method SQ3R will benefit me a lot, this method follows up with gathering information necessary to focus and formulate goals, helping my mind engage and concentrate, filling information around the mental structures, retraining my brain to concentrate and learn, refine my mental organization and began building memory. Before reading I never really ask questions or expect any answers I just want to read along without trying to pose questions. However, with these new methods I will implement them and it will sustain me for efficient comprehension.

Another issue of mines is skim reading. When reading a text I sometimes skim through it all hoping to understand and comprehend the context completely in a short period of time. However, Willingham states skimming through a text, one which you are not entirely familiar with, will result in diminished comprehension. His suggestions it to use allocative significant time to reading, I will be sure to allocate enough time to reading tasks in order to ensure understanding. With these insightful methods I will surely enhance my reading skills and furthermore enrich my comprehension skills of any content.

Outsmart Your Brain Reflection

During Chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain, Daniel Willingham speaks about different problems people tend to come across when reading a textbook. When reading a textbook, the majority of people have issues connecting the different ideas that are to be found in the paragraph they are reading, this causing misinterpreting the real meaning of the text. I have been reading books since I was 7 years old and I never had the problem of connecting the ideas or meanings of the text when it is in spanish, when it is in english I have issues to connect some ideas or to give an explanation or reason as to why something is happening.

Using Willingham’s methods and recomendations seems to be a great way of improving my understanding of textbooks and my quality of reading. The best thing I can improve on inmediatly is note-taking; on Candide for example, my notes where mostly about the meaning of words and sentences, not about characters, situations and places.

Outsmart Your Brain

I have never put much attention into textbooks because I do not usually read them, when I was assigned textbooks I usually did not read them because I got bored, and I was saved because no one in the class did it either and the teacher never asked about it, so I have never taken it into consideration. After reading chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain I have learned that textbooks are organized hierarchically and their are different strategies that help to learn about the topic.

One strategy is SQ3R which is composed by Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. This new methods of studying gives me better learning abilities which I will apply in my life to have better outcomes in the future. With this new strategies I believe my comprehension of assignments will be better because now I will take my time and start by asking questions first, and when I have done my reading and I have answer all my questions I will act as if explaining it to someone else which will help me comprehend what I just have learned and can also help me make connections of the reading since I am saying everything I remember out loud, finally I will review my notes and check if I’m missing something and if I had answer all my questions.

I found this strategies very useful, it is explained clearly, so it is easy to understand. I believe the methods I have learned by reading this chapter will be useful in my studies and will help my learning abilities.

Daniel Willingham’s Outsmart Your Brain

Reading Chapter 5 of Willingham’s book Outsmart your Brain made me reflect about my study habits and the ways my reading and writing skills can be way more improved. As I read more and more, I became more aware that I usually do a lot of the things that aren’t very recommendable to do in order to write a resume, read a text or make any type of ‘analysis’.

Chapter 5 helped me a lot to be more conscious about how I normally study and gave  me excellent study strategies that from now on I will start using in order to upgrade my reeding comprehension skills as well as note taking skills.


Outsmart your brain

I really enjoyed this book because it gives you many tips for better reading comprehension, one of the tips it gives you is to prepare before reading the text, to know a little about the background. It also tells us that a useful way to take notes is to pay close attention to the subtitles, understand them and summarize them, this will help keep our notes organized. 

It corrects mistakes that you possibly made when reading and making notes, one of the errors that he emphasizes is that you cannot read randomly, or quickly, as you read, he recommends asking questions to know how much you are understanding the text. 

According to Willingham, the reader is not aware of what is important until he makes a deep analysis of it. It also gives us strategies to memorize the content of something, such as drawing things related to it and making a study guide

This book really helped me a lot to correct the way I read it and take notes, it gave me many tips to do readings assigned by teachers that can sometimes seem a bit tedious, make them much easier, I will use the tips that I consider useful for my next readings


What I learned from chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel Willingham

Chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel Willingham was an extremely valuable read. I learned a lot about my education and study habits and how they could be improved, mainly due to Willingham’s ability to succinctly explain the importance of “prior knowledge” in the process of learning. The way he described the relationship prior knowledge has with the new things you learn was particularly interesting AND useful, as it made the concept of transfer of learning more concrete and easy to understand as well. The idea that the more knowledge one has in a subject, the easier it is to learn and remember new information, was especially impactful, as it gave me a new perspective on the significance of background knowledge.

In addition to discussing the impact of prior knowledge on general learning, I found it especially informative when he explored the relationship between prior knowledge and reading comprehension, since this is an issue I’ve had in learning. His explanation of how a lack of prior knowledge can negatively impact a reader’s ability to understand what they are reading, and how having prior knowledge can aid in comprehension and lead to better recall, seemed so obvious but was something I’d never thought about as much as I feel I should now, as I often struggle with comprehending big long texts, especially when they are related to subjects that I am not totally familiar with. Willingham’s insights gave me a new approach to reading, and I now understand the importance of expanding my background knowledge in order to improve my reading comprehension.

Overall, I have a very positive opinion of Chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain. The information presented in the chapter was immediately useful to my education, and I believe that the insights gained from this chapter will continue to be beneficial to me as a student. Willingham’s writing was clear, concise, and easy to understand, and I appreciated his ability to take complex concepts and make them accessible to readers. I would highly recommend this chapter to anyone interested in improving their learning outcomes, as it provides valuable insights into the impact of prior knowledge on learning and reading comprehension.

Outsmart Your Brain Reflection

Upon my completion of chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel T. Willingham, I have gained insight into improving my reading and writing skills. Specifically, skills that will allow me to improve the speed and efficiency of my reading, as well as my writing. When I receive a graded in-class essay, the same note, “Analysis must be focused; pick a specific element of the text”, is constantly scribbled in red ink. For this reason, I struggle to connect a sentence I just read, to a sentence I read five minutes ago. Willingham puts it best, “Readers often need to connect something they’re reading now to something they read a few pages ago.” This not only slows reading and becomes an obstacle to comprehension, but this mistake also inhibits the clarity of my writing. Willingham suggests the use of SQ3R, which stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. Willingham also states that research into productivity has concluded that these strategies improve both comprehension and clarity. In the first term, the DP1 class read Homer’s Odyssey. I struggled to efficiently comprehend what I read, and thus did not enjoy the text. Going forward, I will implement these strategies into my reading, in hope of greater enjoyment of future texts.

Another habit of mine that Willingham addresses is sufficient time allocated to reading. Given the workload of the IB, at times I find myself “skimming” through a text. Willingham goes on to state how skimming through a text, one which you are not entirely familiar with, will result in diminished comprehension. Going forward, I will be sure to allocate enough time to reading tasks in order to ensure understanding. Further, in combination with the five strategies mentioned above, the adoption of these techniques will enhance comprehension of unfamiliar texts. This is particularly important in this course.

Outsmart Your Brain

To be honest, this read didn’t really provide much new information for me. Because Brookes is an IB school, we spend a lot of time talking about different aspects of the IB learner profile and how it relates to studying (especially balance and reflection). Therefore, I have been taught lessons about good study habits ever since I first got here. Outsmart Your Brain didn’t really provide anything new, but it did provide some interesting examples and proven results of different study habits and methods, which I found interesting. For example, the experiment done about cramming, and how cramming may not be a bad short term strategy, but is a bad long term strategy. Although I’ve always known cramming doesn’t help much with long term memory, I do also have experience with trying to remember an idea just long enough to be able to write it on the test paper once the exam begins. If that idea is something that can only be memorized, I might repeat it to myself a lot on the day of or before the exam so I can remember it on the exam, but I may not remember it in the long term. It was interesting to read how there have been studies that show similar results to this experience I have.

Other than the facts and examples, there wasn’t much new information in this chapter. The biggest helpful takeaway from this chapter is that rereading notes and the textbook is often not beneficial; however, this was followed by: “there’s nothing to say you can’t read over your notes with deep concentration… It’s just hard to do so.” (p. 108). I find reading the textbook and my notes are beneficial to my studying, because I do concentrate hard when reading them. Despite that, I also understand Willingham’s point, because it is easy to lose focus and therefore isn’t my main study method.

I believe it is important to learn good study habits (so you won’t waste your time studying meaninglessly), especially when there have been methods that are proven to work better than others. However, there is a point where reading about how to study won’t help you anymore, and you just have to commit to studying. In other words, once one knows how to study efficiently, there isn’t too much else to be said. For this reason, I didn’t learn too much from this chapter.

Outsmart Your Brain

I don’t have much experience reading textbooks. None of my teachers saw them as effective and efficient learning tools, Except for math textbooks. Still, those are procedures, examples, and problem things that can be memorized by thinking about and doing them. So will draw from other similar readings to textbooks like essays and encyclopedia reading. However, I will not deny I have gone through some arduous reading of texts that seem to go in one ear and out the other. So the ideas and methods are intriguing to me, especially SQ3R. I found an interesting strategy as I have done all the steps in some way or another but have yet to put them together. Except for asking questions before reading, naturally, the question will arise on looking at a title, but I have never gone beyond asking questions about what I have already read. One issue with SQ3r is that you need lots of time to develop good questions and summaries. SQ3R can make the dry reading of a particularly dense textbook or essay even more mind-numbing. Despite this, since it has been around since the 40s, I think it has a high chance of being effective.

Taking good notes is one of the most rewarding processes. At the end of a unit, having all the answers you need where you know they are in your notes is reassuring. Unfortunately, when writing notes, especially for English, I get sidetracked and write about ideas and concepts rather than characters and places. I suffered from this at the end of reading Candide. I was laser-focused on the arguments Voltaire was making; I did not write new characters’ names. This book brought up some interesting and more focused ideas for note-taking. I think all of the ideas he mentioned are at least worth a try. I think some will work better than others, but they seem to have stood the test of time.

Outsmart your brain reflection

After reading chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain, Willingham, I was left in complete awe. This was probably one of the most interesting chapters I have read this year, and this is because the book not only gives great tips on studying, but also erases a barrier between the reader and the author, making the experience unique, as if you are in an actual conversation with a person.

Willingham first makes you read a short little paragraph which does not grab your attention at first, but that’s until he explains that:  “Readers are very likely to notice a word they don’t know. They are also very likely to notice if the grammar of a sentence is wrong. But they are much less likely to notice when two sentences contradict each other.” After this, you are left in a small shock by the fact that you ( or should I say, your brain ) totally fell for the trick, and you definitely never paid enough attention to notice the contradiction in the paragraph.

Another important point that the book makes is about a very famous way of studying and taking notes: highlighting. Willingham makes it very clear how many people never learn from “just reading and highlighting” or they miss the concepts that were, for example, accurate to the test they had to take later on. This happens because they don’t highlight the important information. This happens because we simply have different “important information” that helps us learn, which is personal to everyone.

He even writes about the research that was conducted with the aim to find out if people will highlight the same things in the same copies of one textbook. Logically, everyone should have the same things highlighted. The results were misleading. Researchers found little to no overlap in what the students highlighted.

This does not mean that we should never use this method when studying, but it is highly recommended to only use material that you are highly familiar with, where the general information is clear. Not in new units or subjects that you are just beginning to learn. “Highlighting might be fine if you are reading about a topic you already know a lot about”

How to actually intake the information properly? Well, by the end of this chapter, I can say that I will definitely stick to the SQ3R method, that is simply: Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review

Previously, I have used something similar to this method, which was mostly concentrated on recalling the text, and seeing how much I could recite after I read the whole thing. But the SQ3R method is not only used for comprehension, it also helps students remember the overall concept better, by connecting the new information to other observations they have made and thought about. 

This method does not allow the reader to “just read along” but forces our brain to contribute to the learning process and take mental notes and make connections as you proceed.

“Outsmart Your Brain” doesn’t sound very smart to me.

I admit the title is somewhat of a hyperbole. I did think certain aspects of Daniel Willingham’s Outsmart Your Brain gave good advice, but the majority of it I found amusingly absurd. Upon doing some quick research on Willingham, I understand his specialty is cognitive psychology from kindergarten to 12th grade. But something about how he talks about learning and education makes me feel like someone who is detached from the real world, disassociated from the actual people and students he’s talking about and just seeing numbers and facts as they are without consideration of life.

This detachment I felt as a reader and a student. It wasn’t immediate and didn’t make itself known at first. The more I read, the more off I felt. There were a few significant quotes by Willingham that really struck me the wrong way.

In college you’ll often hear “three hours of preparation for each hour in class.” A typical college course load calls for 12.5 hours of class time per week, so that rule of thumb means around another 37 hours of preparations outside class (which breaks down to 5.5 hours a day), totaling about 50 hours of work per week total. So a lot, but nothing outrageous (p. 102).

Presenting this system wouldn’t have been an issue, had it not been for the fact that Willingham had described it as “nothing outrageous”. Seeing as he’s a college professor, and has been one for half of his life, it’s clear the bias he has toward it. It’s safe to assume that he believes in this workload amount, or at least doesn’t see the issue with it. Well, I did, to me, this was something outrageous, and I decided to see if I was insane to think this way. I applied this math to our own IB course structure, and the structure here at Brookes to see what the hours would look like according to this system. In short, one IB course at Brookes is roughly 4h per week of in-class time, 4h x 3 (the recommended amount of time spent studying per hour in a course) = 12 hours outside of school studying. This totals 16h per week.

Now that doesn’t sound too bad. But what David Willingham doesn’t seem to mention is the fact that college students often take more than one course at a time, and so do we here at Brookes. 16h per week x 6.5 (6 IB courses + TOK) = 104 hours dedicated only to school. There are 168 hours in a week, 168-104= 64 hours not dedicated to school. But wait, there’s more. Assuming (and hoping) the student gets the recommended 9 hours of sleep each night (9×7)=63, 64-63= we as students are left with exactly ONE HOUR to ourselves every week. These calculations don’t account for eating, taking care of hygiene, jobs, socializing, and taking breaks, which under this system, would all fall into that single hour. This also doesn’t even bring up any issues in terms of mental health and learning disabilities.

Yes, I admit that this was overkill and that it wasn’t the only piece of advice given in this text, but the fact that it was one at all is absurd to me. Yes, some of the other advice Willingham gave was useful, like “Speed reading is not a thing” (p. 101) and “think about your goal for reading before your start and connect the pieces of the reading” (p. 97). But, is it? A lot of what I read felt like common sense to me. Tips that you kinda already know but quite frankly don’t have the energy to apply, at least for me. This brings up an entirely other topic about the exhaustion from school and the current Mental Health crisis our new generations are facing.

I don’t speak for everyone but to me reading Outsmart Your Brain didn’t provide me with any insight for my studying other than to not highlight subjects I don’t know, which I don’t even do anyways since I don’t rely on textbooks to teach me everything, and go to a school which teachers support and advise me in my notetaking. And it’s not as if I’ll be personally needing this information in the future either, as my career path doesn’t lean into readings and is instead focused on practical physical learning. All David Willingham made me feel was mad, and all he made me reflect on was how teachers and professors shouldn’t worry about the note-taking techniques of their students, because most of the time the students don’t even want to be learning these topics. If they did, their notes would be extensive already, and they probably would’ve done preliminary research on the topic if they loved it so much. The majority of students who take bad notes don’t take bad notes because they don’t know how to take good notes, it’s because they don’t care to take good notes. All teachers should be worried about is whether students are passing their classes, and making sure the grade level average of their students is high, because in the end that is all that matters to institutions, and it’s the entire reason why teachers are being paid at all, whether you like it or not.

Outsmart Your Brain (ch.5) – Kristina

In chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel.T Willingham the author explains student mistakes in reading difficult texts and how to correct them.

  • SQ3R – Survey & Question & Read & Recite & Review – method to concentrate on the central idea it improves comprehension
  • Informative study guide – a document in which complex and important learning aspects are described in a concise and understandable language (not just notes, but thoughtful, detailed, but brief reviews)
  • etc…

I should use these methods, as I believe they can help me in my studies and in life.

Reflection on Daniel Willingham’s Outsmart Your Brain

Daniel Willingham’s Outsmart Your Brain gave a detailed explanation and tips on studying efficiently. I agree with the many strategies that he has given. I learnt different tricks to help me memorize content, for example, drawing a picture for materials that I can’t remember, making material into a meaning-based question by asking “why?” or “How?” and, most importantly, preparing a study guide. There are some strategies that I have already been using in years of studying and tests. For example, posing questions to yourself, speaking aloud when answering, and imagining that you’re teaching someone else. I feel these two strategies work exceptionally well for me, and I will keep using them. Another quote that I found interesting is, “whether or not you want to learn is irrelevant.” I agree with him. I will lose interest and motivation in studying because I find it meaningless, but I should look at the bigger picture, that these tests are just dust on the road. Therefore I should just start and do it and stop making excuses for myself. 

To conclude, I enjoyed how he wrote the strategies step-by-step, which was straightforward to understand and follow. I will surely use his valuable tips in my upcoming IB exam! 


Mental Shortcuts – Outsmart your Brain

In chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain, Willingham explores the idea that the brain struggles with abstract concepts but thrives with concrete ones. Willingham explains the phenomenon as a kind of mental shortcut. Willingham first introduces this concept by having the reader read a short paragraph where he later exposes our brain to take a mental shortcut. He elaborated on this concept, “Readers are very likely to notice a word they don’t know. They are also very likely to notice if the grammar of a sentence is wrong. But they are much less likely to notice when two sentences contradict each other.” This is a particularly interesting concept for me because I have always been aware of how I tend to make assumptions and draw conclusions based on limited information and often leading to mistakes that could have otherwise been easily eradicated. However, I had never thought of why I fall prey to mental shortcuts. 

One of the reasons Willingham proposed is the availability heuristic, which states that we judge the frequency or likelihood of an event based on how easily examples come to mind. This was particularly eye-opening because I realized that I have fallen prey to this mental shortcut many times in my life. For example, recently I was completing a few mathematical questions about trigonometry, where I had skipped reading the question and completed the given diagram as the previous questions has asked for. Upon reviewing my answers, I found that the question was asking for a completely unrelated value from the previous questions and caused a few point reductions.

The insights I gained from this chapter have made me more aware of how I make decisions and form opinions while navigating through my life. Overall, I think that this chapter has helped me be more critical and mindful of the information I encounter and how I process that information. By understanding the mental shortcuts that I use, I believe I can better navigate the world and avoid falling into the traps of assumptions.


Outsmart Your Brain

Reading Outsmart you Brain by Daniel.T Willingham has proven to be a very interesting experience. My entire life I have had to study for exams and havent really known how to study. I would usually tend to just cram it all in and hope for the best. However until more recently I have been studying more efficiently by rewriting my notes to understand the content then practicing it via practice test or exorcises. I have noticed that a lot of what I already do was described in this book. For example one of the things he talks about is making meaningful study guides. He really emphasizes putting the entire syllabus and make the study guide good enough to learn the entire subject from it alone. This is similar to what I already do which is rewrite my notes from a textbook, however I only write down the things I deem important which differs from Willinghams strategy. For the upcoming mock exam I will most likely make a full a thorough study guide for each subject.

He also really emphasizes that are viewing notes isn’t a good study method, and that you need to probe your mind by stimulating it. I completely agree with his point about this. I find that in my classes when I take notes in class the notes I take have never helped and I only understand the topic after rewriting new notes then practicing the theory(probing my brain).

In conclusion,  what Willingham has to say about studying is very valid and will ensure you get a high mark on your exam. My original studying styles is very close however differs in some areas, and I may consider switching to his way of studying to receive a high mark on the most important exams of my high school life coming up.

Chapter 6 of Outsmart Your Brain

Reading the sixth chapter of Daniel Willingham’s Outsmart Your Brain was incredibly intriguing. His points made about memory offered me a new perspective on the familiar concept. Although the phrase “probing memory improves memory” appears simple at first glance, upon rereading, it provided new insight regarding the memorization techniques I currently use. Fallen victim to revising for exams by rereading notes, Willingham’s compelling arguments convinced me to turn towards a new technique. Retrieval practice is the ideal study method proposed by Willingham. As this is my first exposure to retrieval practice, the promise of a new method of studying, being more effective and practical in the long run, interested me. Willingham recommends making a comprehensive study guide, increasing the efficacy of studying. The importance of ensuring that the whole syllabus is contained within the pages of the study guide is also emphasized. Along with this, Willingham raises a fascinating point about the properties of memory, that it is easier to remember meaningful content than meaningless content. While this is a familiar concept to me, the explained study strategy utilizing this property is especially useful. Interestingly, Willingham ignores the idea of an individual’s studying style, stating that no evidence has proven that theory. He suggests that people should neglect their specific learning style, utilizing the strategy earlier mentioned.

In short, I was able to gain a lot of knowledge about the most effective ways of studying. Additionally, I now know the methods to fully capitalize on the memory function of the brain. I’m confident that what I learnt from reading would prove useful in revising for both the mocks and the final exams.

Common Mistakes Made Reading

Of all the readings I have been assigned in English class this year, this one is the most in-depth and eye-opening. Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel Willingham made me fully sit up right after reading the first chapter. Willingham places a trap in there, and I fully fall for it. In the midst of explaining his assertion he places a short text to explain and asks the readers to pay attention to it,  but the topic and final sentence  fully contradict each other. The trap was to prove to readers that you might understand what each sentence means but if you cannot connect between the lines, there is no understanding or learning. As I realized this, I suddenly became much more attentive to what I was reading, and I picked up some habits alongside. Here is what I have learnt from the text:

(1) The majority of students (myself included) do not always understand advanced texts because of the default reading style, understanding lines but not making the overall connection. When reading, this is a crucial step, especially in texts that aren’t straight-forward, otherwise the basis of understanding is lost and a false meager of comprehension is provided. (2) Reading and highlighting important pieces of information in new and sophisticated text is a waste of time. You can’t possibly know what is important and what isn’t when reading new text, there is no background knowledge on it, and you’re only highlighting information you think is important, which could be wrong. Instead employ this method, SQ3R (survey, questions, read, recite and revise). First you survey the text, read a few headings or a summary, and get an idea of what the text is on. Make questions about the text from the information you gathered from the survey. Read the text. Recite and ensure you understand and remember what you read, as well as make notes. Revise the notes you have down. (3) How to take notes. ” Do you think your notes are good enough that even if you set them aside for a few weeks, reading them will be enable you to recover all of your insights into the content?” If your answer is no, your notes are not sufficient and your note-taking skills need to be worked on. After reading a chapter, write some things about it down. In your words, explain what you understand and ensure you take as much time and caution as you did reading the text. (4) Schedule appropriate times for reading. You’re assigned some reading to do on a new topic in a class, and you want to do it after basketball practice, not a smart move. Setting times for reading is as important is the reading itself. In addition, only reading summaries or lesson aids over the actual passage is extremely inefficient. A summary cannot compare to the actual text, with its nuanced explanations and word usage.

Memory and the Learning Process

I learned about memory’s fundamental role in learning and its implications for textbook reading from Daniel Willingham’s Outsmart Your Brain Chapter 5. Willingham explains how the brain stores memories in networks and how emotional arousal and repetition can affect how strong these memories are. He also emphasizes the importance of regularly reviewing information due to the fact that memories are reconstructed each time they are retrieved. Willingham suggests that, when reading textbooks, students should break up their study sessions and alternate the practice of various skills to improve long-term retention. Instead of relying on cramming, he emphasizes the importance of reviewing material multiple times. The book makes use of the acronym SQR3 and offers effective reading strategies like assigning a task to be completed while reading. He also warns against skimming through a book and only highlighting the important parts because you might not understand it or give the wrong information the wrong level of importance, taking in irrelevant information.

I was not particularly surprised by any of Willingham’s ideas, but these insights into the workings of memory are very important for students who want to improve their reading comprehension and retain textbook information. However, I did learn about the SSQR3 method, and I intend to try to incorporate it into my reading and studying. Students are said to be able to improve their academic performance and enhance their learning experience by putting Willingham’s methods into practice. In general, the pages 90-104 of Chapter 5 provide useful insights into the science of memory and its application to improving learning outcomes.

Outsmart Your Brain

In chapter 5 of Outsmart Your Brain the author talks about the most common mistakes students make when reading complicated texts, he gives an example of a text that contradicts itself and the most common thing is that students do not realize this when analyzing a text. It made me realize several mistakes that I have when analyzing a text, I did not realize that the two sentences are contradictory, I have always made that mistake.
The chapter made me reflect on how I can improve that, I have to be more concentrated when I read, read calmly and analyze carefully each part of a text.

also at the moment of reading I only concentrate on one or two ideas but I do not concentrate on the central idea of the text, he talks about a method to concentrate on the central idea and its called SQ3R which is survey, question, read, recite and review, the method improves comprehension. The tips he provides are very helpful, and it makes you realize all the mistakes that students make but never realize, but reading this makes you realize that you have to read more carefully.

Outsmart Your Brain Reflection

Outsmart Your Brain, written by Daniel T. Willingham, provides tips and indicates errors that people, especially students, make while reading textbooks. In chapter 5, he quotes an example that intimates an excerpt from a typical high school textbook and points out the error that many students make — not coordinating and comprehending the context of the textbook. After I read the excerpt, I realized I had made the same mistake. I did not realize that the two sentences are contradicting, instead, I thought the textbook must be accurate and that I only remember the main idea of the paragraph. I did not think critically and judge every part of the text. This reminds me to stay “sober” and think crucially and carefully when I am reading the textbook in order to have a more in-depth idea of the subject.

I also realized I made the typical mistake during reading textbooks or materials. I normally read and highlight information that I think is “important”. However, Willingham reminds me that reading without knowing a general idea and preparing will make me skip the central idea — the actual important part of the text. Thus, he suggests a method that I will start using — SQ3R, survey, question, read, recite, and review. He mentions that this method improves comprehension. Hopefully, this method helps me to acknowledge the essential parts of the text better. He also suggests a note structure that I have never applied and heard of, which should include a summary, an important qualification of the summary, a comment on how this section relates to the main section, how the section answers the questions that I raised beforehand, and an implication of the summary. I learned how to read and take notes, I hope my note-taking skills will improve this year.

The do’s and dont’s of reading

Chapter five of Outsmart Your Brain by Daniel T Willingham taught me about the do’s and don’ts of reading. Reading in this context does not refer to a fun pastime but reading that is assigned by teachers. I learned that reading is a long process that requires a lot of effort from the reader.  The book emphasizes that reading textbooks should be done carefully with an appropriate strategy. Not to my surprise speed reading and highlighting what the reader thinks is important information, is not an effective strategy. Even though this is my go-to strategy, I have realized that it is not very productive. Willingham’s reasoning for this is that the reader is not aware of what is important in the text until a thorough analysis has been done. Alternatively, other reading methods that are more productive are explained.

The main ideas I took away from effective methods for reading were to prepare before reading, ask questions, and take useful notes. To prepare before reading means to survey the text and find out what it is about. This encourages the reader to think about what they are going to read which allows them to ask questions. Asking questions helps create a goal for reading. Instead of randomly reading, looking for the answers keeps readers on task.  Even asking questions while reading is useful because it helps process the information you read.  Lastly, I learned that to take notes effectively a tip is to look at the headings and subheadings of a text.  The book suggests summarizing each subheading in your notes. Using these as checkpoints for notes will help keep them organized and concise. Taking notes while reading will also be useful for reviewing the reading.  Willingham’s suggestions are very informative and I will be using his strategies in the future.

Paper 1 Reflection

After receiving my feedback, I noticed that I made many careless mistakes and spelling errors.
My major error was adding unnecessary information while analyzing the text. I need to remember that the goal is to analyze the text and not comment on the literature. Another major error I kept making was writing about literature in the present tense. I also noticed I tend to run out of time and rush my conclusion and my thesis, to prepare for the next practice paper one I will work on organizing my essay better and reading regularly.

As I Grew Older

Whitman’s footprints could be seen all over this poem, as he was a big inspiration to Hughes’ writing. An example of this was the poem being a free verse. The lines are unequal, there is  no rhythm, and no beats can be made from the poem. Another example is the optimism Hughes shows when he speaks about how dire his situation is. He speaks about his dreams being blocked off by an insurmountable wall, “My hands! My dark hands! Break through the wall!”, but he still urges himself forward against the overwhelming challenge.

Hughes explains his and many other black Americans’ circumstance. They have dreams, big dreams, but they can’t achieve it because of who they are, because of their skin. No matter how hard he works or dreams, his dream just can’t seem to come to fruition, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.

Reflection of Paper 1 Practice

In the practice paper one I lacked analysis. The greatest mistake I made was paraphrasing, describing, and commenting instead of analyzing the text given.  It’s the greatest mistake because I’m not contributing anything more in the essay and not exploring deeper into the texts. The deconstruction of the story and finding my interpretation of it is what I should’ve done instead of commenting about the story. Next time I’ll work on finding my interpretation of the story, along with original ideas to contribute for the essay. Also breaking down and actually analyzing the story instead of paraphrasing it.

Apart from my lack of analysis, my second greatest mistake is grammar. I write redundant expressions that don’t contribute to the essay. As well as, not using possessives correctly. These are small mistakes but appear consistently through my hand written essays. 

English Paper 1 Reflection

After reviewing my practice paper 1 I was able to identify the most important mistakes that I needed to tend to. I found I tended to start with assertions that were too long and would require too much time to provide evidence for that it would put me over time limits for the essay. With that being said, the long assertions make my writing become quickly disorganized trying to fit such a large amount of information into a small amount of writing. So I think the best solution to this would be to better organize my work, possibly making a short and small planned structure before beginning to write. This would allow me to map out my assertions and what evidence I would provide and when in the essay I would provide the evidence. For success in future papers, I must remember to follow my original assertions and not become sidetracked by new ideas I may create while writing the essay and to create an organized structure for my essay before hand.

English: Paper 1 Reflection

After doing practice paper 1, I could identify my mistakes so that improvement could be made next time. Constructing a thesis after making assertions is important, and doing the instruction after the body paragraphs will be more effective. Focusing on one or two themes, such as characterization through the diction used, is more effective than randomly mentioning many topics at once. I also understood better how I am meant to organize my paragraphs and create a flow within the essay. Within my essay, many generalizations were made that needed to be more specific, so I would like to improve and be more specific with the assertions I use and the explanations for quotes from the texts. Additionally, paying more attention to how I include my quotations from the text is essential, such as citing the quotations properly, paying attention to word choice, and using the present tense in my writing.

Reflection on Paper 1 Essay

The most important thing I learnt after reading my feedback on the Paper 1 Essay was that my writing is still too descriptive and does not dive deep enough into an analysis. Although I do touch upon correct themes during characterization, analyzing imagery, sound effects, structure and diction more throughly to develop a good exploration of the characters in connection to how the author portrays these elements whilst conveying an effect on readers, will help to improve my writing.

Some simple mistakes were also made regarding the formatting of words (such as working on a smoother integration of quotations in certain paragraphs) and layout of the essay itself, but can be improved easily through practice. The highest score I gained was for criterion C, which shows me that my understanding of the literal meaning was fairly present and had improved since the previous time.

I think for the future what I need to work most on, is practicing a more structured analysis of the texts. A more focused thesis statement in the introduction and a clear topic sentence for each start of the new paragraph will hopefully help me to improve this aspect and stay focused throughout the essay.

Paper 1 Practice and Reflection

In my writing of paper 1, I often rushed, making my sentences unclear or misspelling simple words. I also must remember to write in the present tense when writing about literature. The rest of the comments were about my careless errors, punctuation, and redundant writing which I need to improve upon.

By re-reading my paper 1 writing assignment, I can pick-out my mistakes and understand where I went wrong. Also by reviewing how I write, I can imoprove upon my weaknesses by using the marking key.

Paper 1 Reflection

After looking at my Paper 1, what I did well was referencing to the text and the organization of some ideas.  I have learned how to developed more points on characterization; to use what the characters do, what the say, their feelings and other factors. I also learned how to make sentences more accurate to communicate my ideas. I need to improve my assertions so that they are stronger. I also need to make clearer analysis, descriptions, and be more specific.


Paper 1 Reflection

After reading my practice paper 1 I realized that I made many simple errors. I did not cite lines of the poem correctly and I also used many contractions when I should not have. My word choice was not always the best and made some sentences awkward. 

Some of my more important mistakes were that I used redundant expressions when talking about the poem. I also had a habit of writing long run-on sentences. I used possessives incorrectly a few times throughout my essay as well. 

What I did well in my essay was that I had a good understanding of the text and was able to organize my essay well. I had a quotation in every paragraph and was able to analyze them to a certain extent. I need to work more on making sure I am not narrating the poem but actually thoroughly analyze it. 


Paper 1 Reflections

Ater going through the Paper 1 feedback as well as possible elements of analysis for the text provided in Paper 1, I realized that there are two key problems with my writing: grammar and sentence formation.

One key mistake I made in this essay was that I wrote everything in present tense, which is not the correct way to approach due to the fact that it is common sense to treat literary work as eternal and goes on forever. I can quickly fix this mistake by reminding myself as a I write next time, to write in present tense, as well as to attentive to my grammar as I am editing.

My sentence structures that I wrote are still weak, it does not seperate itself from each other, leading to run-on sentences. Also, my sentences were awkward due to my tendency to over-analyzing evidences sometimes. My first step towards fixing these is to write more concisely and think about if one sentence make sense in itself or not, and if it connects well with other sentences.

This one is less about the mistakes but about a weak point: I did not sense a lot of connection in-between my body paragraphs. Although they makes total sense on their own, they could have been developed in a way that is more interesting to read. Something I want to start experimenting is to write body paragraphs in order of importance: the most important idea first, then the second most important, then the least.

PP1 reflection

After reading my practice paper 1 I had many careless errors. I did not correctly cite quotations from a poem. Some of my sentences were somewhat confusing or awkward.

The major error in my writing was a misinterpretation of what something in the text meant. It derailed my argument in that paragraph as I analyzed the wrong meaning. This will likely not happen in future practice.

In one of my paragraphs, I somehow did not write about what I said in my assertion. Next time I will write a better topic sentence.

What I did well in my writing was that it is organized. Every paragraph has an assertion, a quotation, and an analysis and explanation of the quotation. There is an introduction and conclusion that state what will be talked about or what we have learned. I am on the right track and mostly analyzed the writing rather than narrating it.

My Thoughts On ‘Candide’

The book had a new but rather depressing look on human life, breaking all stereotypes of a main characters overcoming all adversities. Readers tend to find the constant suffering of a main character unenjoyable and repetitive, but this book embraces this head-on, and never gives Candide nor the side characters any sense of peace throughout the duration of the book (excluding the ending).

I found the philosophies discussed even more interesting. ‘This world being the best of all possible worlds'(pg.,43). Those were the words fed to Candide by Pangloss, and it seemed to be a sugarcoating to avoid the inevitable sense of nihilism. But as we soon see, this belief begins to slowly crack and crumble, with each unnecessary adversary Candide is put through, he begins to lose faith and comes round to Martin’s ideology. Martin believes that God has abandoned this world and it is now overrun with evil and corruption. Now, the main difference between Pangloss and Martin’s philosophies is Martin’s direct experience comes into play and influences his ideology, while Pangloss, an optimist, bases his on what he wishes, what should be.

The ending sticks out a lot as well. It seems that even after Candide has gotten what he wishes for, he is still unhappy. It’s not as he imagined and his suffering continues.  Martin, Pangloss and Candide are unable to create a suitable answer and go visit an Imam in hopes of an answer. The imam tells them the answer is to keep busy and work. Work keeps the mind free of evil. It keeps the body fatigued and occupied, the mind is filled with ambition and kept running and active, and the soul is kept fired with lasting passion.

“Let Evening Come” Personal Reflection

Analyzing Let Evening Come was different than how I usually approach analysis assignments. Reading the feedback, I understand and agree with my mark. One of the most significant aspects I struggled with in this assessment was organization. Usually, organizing what I write doesn’t come with too much struggle. Somehow, Let Evening Come was a curveball for me.

I’ve realized that I think my lack of organization comes from too many topics and aspects of the poem I wanted to cover. Looking at my paper, I underlined most lines, scribbled ideas of what to talk about and multiple comparisons to make. Normally in these assessments, I find myself actively looking for what assertions to make, the kinds of things that are deep enough for me to pick out and discuss. Something that has not happened before is when I find an overwhelming number of simple assertions to make. This is what I believe to have really messed up my organization. Instead of finding a few profound aspects of the text, instead, I got overwhelmed by smaller details. That is not to say that Let Evening Come is a simple poem by any means, I just got caught up in the number of themes to write about.

Next time, I hope to be more organized with my writing. I hope not to get buried in assertions so my writing will stay focused and concise.

Reflection On ‘Let Evening Come’ Essay

My performance in the latest essay was very encouraging and a substantial improvement. In my previous works, I would make small but several silly mistakes such as spelling errors or organizational errors or even using unnecessary words in a sentence. I would also find myself writing a 200-word essay without answering the question, and rather waste all that space discussing irrelevant topics. But I improved on all those things, and hopefully will not make those mistakes again. 

Some further improvements that need to be made focus mainly on structural errors Putting in the correct symbols, and ensuring they are in the right place. Moreover, my word choice needs to be more precise and not just serve the purpose of sounding fancy. 

Rushdie PR

While listening to the interviews done with Salman Rushdie I admired how much he was solidified in his beliefs about this specific religion. Although I do not agree with what he wrote about the Muslim religion specifically, he did mention that it was a joke even though no one took it as one. You can tell from all of his books that he is a very good writer and is very passionate about writing. He moved away from his family and home to pursue what he wanted which makes me respect him quite a bit. 

It is common sense that writing and targeting a single religion, even as a joke, is going to cause some problems. I do not believe he deserved all the violence that was targeted towards him. Even years after the book was published he is still having people come after him and he isn’t allowed to live his life completely. I think that because of free expression the people upset about the book should have shared their opposing opinions in a more humane way. 

At the end of the interview done in 2015 he talks about free expression. He mentions how clearly people do not get to express their thoughts freely but the definition of free expression is that everyone is allowed to express their opinions and beliefs. He wrote his book The Satanic Verses, this was a satirical comedy about the Muslim religion, this was him expressing his opinion about the religion as a non religious person. He says in the interview that if you have to be careful not to upset people it is not free expression. I disagree with this because when talking about a large population of people you can share your opinion in a respectful way. 

Let Evening Come Essay Reflection

The completion of Let Evening Come, paper 1 practice, has taught me a few new techniques and fixed some of my previous mistakes. Most notable is error 23 “Unclear or awkward expression; or the wrong word.” My errors for the paper 1 practice of which I would like to focus on fixing are error 2, 10, and 13.

After receiving my paper back, I notice my thesis statement was quite vague, resulting to a weak declaration regarding my assertions. This mistake about declaring my assertions may had been due to my use of weak assertions and inability to use such assertions into my paragraph, which resulted in a weak essay (still an improvement to my previous essays). Although I have improved error 23, it has been replaced with error 10. In order to improve my essay for next time, I will need to take more time in my assertion choices and plan which quotes I will use as evidence and how to weave it in smoothly into my paragraph.

Response to Salman Rushdie

I was very intrigued by Salman Rushdie and his story. His ideas are interesting, often times thought-provoking, and highly imaginative. I was shocked to hear that he was hunted down by people of a foreign country and religion to himself. I personally don’t know enough about the Islamic religion to criticize it, and I don’t believe that the people hunting Rushdie down represent the whole of the religion. However, the issue of a fatwa by the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran seemed to be taking religious pride and morals to an absolute extreme. Rushdie was simply writing about real-world problems in a satirical way, and to order a terror attack that would last decades and put a man into hiding does not portray a good image of not only the people of Iran but also those who follow Islam. I think this attack of terror was not done just because of the jokes that Rushdie may have made, but instead to assert a sense of power and authority over any other people of western society that would try and attempt similar jokes. I think that the tensions of the Iraq-Iran war, and the fact that western countries (the united states) were assisting Iraq against Iran, put Iran in a very defensive and threatened state. The combination of these things may have made Rushdie’s book seem like a political statement that was against the Islamic religion.

I don’t think that Rushdie was trying to insult the Islamic religion, he was rather poking fun at it. It was a joke taken too far and it created a political complication that had Rushdie in the center of it. I cannot speak for someone else but I certainly know the actions of the attackers of Rushdie certainly do not represent the Islamic religion and the attack on the free speech of Rushdie was an adverse effect on the ideas of the religion.


Reflection on Salman Rushdie

Although not entirely the same my religious background is vaguely similar to that of Rushdie. My grandparents on my Dad’s side are Christian, however, my Dad has not practiced in many years. This has resulted in me growing up in an almost religion free household. The context of this is of course different because outside of my family I also live in a far less religious setting than Rushdie. Rushdie discusses how this affected his lack of faith which shows in all his writing, however, I feel like the opposite has happened for me. Where I practice Christianity when and where I can. As I have not read any of his works and am also less familiar with Islamic culture I don’t know what to think and don’t want to offend anyone so no comment. His voice is very seductive though.

PR: Salman Rushdie

I would not consider myself someone with very strong ideas about religion, or who is very educated in religion. That being said, I don’t feel as though I know enough about Islamic culture to comment on one of the biggest controversies to do with Rushdie: his novel, The Satanic Verses. Despite that, there are other qualities about Rushdie that I find very intriguing. Rushdie, although having faced a seemingly endless amount of death threats, was and still is able to share and spread his ideas, no matter how controversial or how much trouble it will get him in. For some people, after receiving extreme death threats and having terrorist attacks blamed upon their work, they would most likely try to hide and never be talked about or seen again. For other people, like Rushdie, it is so important to them that they share their ideas that they are willing to risk their lives. Whether or not I agree with Rushdie’s past works and his main ideas aside, it is an admirable quality to be able to risk your life to spread a message. What makes it even more shocking, is that 34 years after Rushdie published his most controversial novel, he was stabbed, and this is not the first time he has been assaulted or the first assassination attempt on him. With a threat this real, it is commendable that he is able to continue doing what he does without fear. I would say I believe that everyone should have the right to have their own opinion (which can be a tricky subject, because sometimes that opinion can be harmful to the rest of humanity, which brings up some TOK questions, such as what makes an opinion right or wrong?) Even though I believe having an opinion is important, sharing it or acting on it can be harmful to humanity. This isn’t a black-or-white problem, it is a grey area, which is why it is difficult to comment on where Rushdie falls in whether or not his actions benefit or hurt humanity more, especially because I lack knowledge related to the subject.

“Writers & Company” Personal Response

Religion has always been a sensitive, dangerous and controversial topic. It is interesting that Rushdie talks about artistic freedom. Artists can express their cultural thoughts in multiple ways making it more difficult to be respected by everybody.

As people have the right to express, people have the right to defend. However, there has to be an ethical way of thinking. It caught my attention the way that Rushdie referred to the topic of  “The Satanic Verses” as if it was an insignificant topic. It is serious topic and it needs respect. I think that this is an extreme situation with the order of execution and him not leaving free.

I agree when Rushdie says that “…people say they are in favour of free expression but everybody should be careful not to upset people. Well, that means you are not in favour of free expression.”  People have different opinions, no one can ever agree to everything. Thats why there are intermediaries in everything; sports, politics, etc. People are capable enough that free expression is a human right. As well as we are capable to be respectful and ethic towards what we express.

“A Tribute to Salman Rushdie” Interview

As a person who does not know a lot about the religion of Islam, I cannot attest for the violence, or lack thereof, from its resulting religious groups. Listening to the interviews conducted with the author Salman Rushdie, however, surprised and frightened me from the violence stemming from sharing one’s own opinion and or outlook on the world. The fact that a peaceful man who has a different outlook on the world than the majority in his subject of interest should be subject to assassination seems absurd. Since his opinion differs, he will forever have a bounty on his head. I understand that religion itself does not work together as a whole body, but that those who are part of it may act outside of the majority’s wills and ideas, but when something such as religion allows for a person to be maimed and have their life sought after, it destroys, in essence, the reason for religion: to aid in moral judgment. 

When a culture or religious group is so scared of someone’s opinion that it must be silenced, it may vouch for what the larger group stands for, and pique my interest in what they are afraid of. This relates to a way of power that does not align with my own ideals. Leading from a point of control where everyone’s opinions must align with one’s own seems restraining. 

A part of the first interview caught my attention. “Rushdie was stabbed multiple times as he took the stage to give a talk on artistic freedom” (Wachtel, 1992). This gruesome description caught my eye, but what rattled me, even more, was that he was there to “give a talk on artistic freedom.” Rushdie was not provoking violence, only discussing his passion for freedom within the arts. His life of self-expression turned dangerous because of his controversial opinions. From Rushdie’s point of view, Islam is trying to silence those of opposing opinions. It defeats the purpose of religion teaching morals but instead promotes religion as a way to rule and control the people. 


Reflection of Rushdie Interview

     As a practicing Muslim who reads the Quran every day and values the teachings within the text of the Quran, this was definitely a very interesting experience listening to the interview with Salman Rushdie. However, the novel he wrote that caught my attention and was referenced several times in the interview was 1988 Satanic Verses written in. The book’s title refers to the Quranic verses as “satanic verses,” looking at the evils within the religion of Islam, which was named in many countries, the first one ironically being India. The life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad served as the inspiration for this book, which Rushdie renames “Mahound” (a derogatory nickname given by the English during the Crusades). Listening to his story about how he was attacked because of this controversial novel published did not shock me as I feel like he touched upon important Islamic core beliefs, making a mockery of the Quran, which Muslims believe is the speech of God revealed to the messenger of God (peace be upon him). 

    As for Iran and the attackers who attacked Rushdie, this violent approach by the leader was unacceptable, and the violence was completely wrong regarding the situation. However, even though this novel is supposed to be comical, It is also disrespectful to mock religious beliefs and challenges them in a mockery way. Muslims are told within the teachings of Islam that respecting everyone is vital: Everyone’s God-given human dignity must be respected, regardless of their faith, race, ethnic origin, gender, or social status (ref. Qur’an, 17:70). Therefore, no one is asking him to forcefully believe in what they believe in but what upsets Muslims globally is that he is making a joke about the fatwas that God has sent down. Therefore, questioning God’s speech from the perspective of Muslims is extremely offensive. Not only did he mock God and the messenger of God but also  Sita and Ram, who are a part of the religion of Hinduism, and Queen Elizabeth. It is interesting to me that the British government banned an American author from using the F word for the policy of Margaret Thrasher, and when the same word is used by Rushdie 52 times within his literature but gets an award due to abusing Islam and the religion. Yet we see this book as a way to show” freedom of speech” when many people view it as a mockery of the fundamental beliefs in Islam and other religions and beliefs.  

   In the interview, he uses the term” Islamic culture,” which shows how he mixed the two in his overall understanding of Islam. Islam is classified as a religion, and culture is different, meaning anyone from any culture can be a Muslim. Unfortunately, Rushdie did not clearly distinguish between the two, which could have caused more controversy within his novel. An example can be when he states that women are” mistreated within Islam.” Clearly, this is wrong because this might be based on a culture where some women, even today, are not allowed to attend schools, be seen in public, or even speak. However, this is not representative of how Islam elevates and values women within the religion, giving them equal rights and a high ranking in society. 

   In conclusion, In Islam, there is freedom of expression, but it should not hurt anyone, and there should be proof based on the points mentioned. Based on the lies he mentions about Prophet Muhammad( peace be upon him) , causing frustration and anger among the Muslims who looked up to him. I value freedom of speech and believe that through writing and arts, individuals get the opportunity to do just that. However, I do believe there are limits to the amount of disrespect that will be tolerated, and even though the author stated this was from a non–religious perspective, it does make a mockery of the Quran, the only sacred book representing the religion of Islam and challenges the Quran which is wrong.