A bit about myslef – Matt

I usually subconsciously make the mistake of introducing myself as Matthew, yet I prefer if people called me Matt:). I am currently 17 years old and a new student attending Brookes Westshore for my last year of high school. I am originally from Comox but am now situated in Victoria to pursue my goal of becoming a well-rounded student-athlete. One thing about me is that I play one of the most time-consuming sports, hockey, at a competitive junior level. Matching this with the demanding IB program will undoubtedly be extremely intense, but I am always up for the challenge. As I am always looking for ways to benefit my lifestyle, most of my free time is spent either with friends or in the gym. One of my biggest interests is hiking and not your typical day hike because I love the hard and challenging hikes that make me seek that feeling of gratitude when bagging a peak and taking in the astonishing view. This summer I went on a hike, where me and a few friends woke up at 3 a.m. to cross off a sunrise hike from our bucket list. We saw the sun rise over the horizon of the mountains mixed with the smoke from the wildfires, creating a silver lining that was absolutely breathtaking. So if you are ever up for the challenge, I one hundred percent recommend doing a sunrise hike.

Although my schedule keeps me quite busy, I love reading whenever I have spare time or even when assigned new books in English class. Breaking open the pages of an unfamiliar book feels like a fresh start to a new adventure. As I progress into novels and become one with the character, I read endlessly, always wanting to turn  the next page. It seems as if reading books has always created an immersive experience for me and getting to know the protagonist and watching the character develop always seems to amaze me. Additionally, Reading articles is also intriguing to me as I can read about my interests like sports or exciting world news. What I love the most about reading articles is that it benefits me in many ways as there is lots of good insight and knowledge to gain from, on top of that, it helps me become a better writer.

Writing is a very important skill and tool that will carry out throughout my life, and because of this I always look for ways to improve my writing. One thing about me, and I know most people aren’t, but I prefer to type instead of writing things down with a pencil and paper. I mostly enjoy writing because whenever I write and get into the flow of it, it feels like everything just pieces together and nothing beats that flow when all of your ideas just click and come together. However, Sometimes my mind will go blank and I will take a break to recuperate my thoughts. I don’t typically have a favorite writing style, but I am really fond of the narrative style of writing, as I am able to write in profound detail through the lens of a main character when telling a story, which I love to do. 

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.

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 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.

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

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.

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.


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 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.

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.

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. 

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.

Antigone Personal Response

Death, and our relationship with it, is a major theme in Antigone. We as a society possess a duality of attitudes towards death: acceptance and denial.

This scenery perfectly fits the common theme of the play. The way that the tomb was a symbolic reflection of how we as humans perceive death was so complex and well-woven into the story. Antigone’s death wish, such as this exert from page 88, “I gave myself to death,/long ago, so I might serve death (pg.88)”. Further, from page 89, “Commit cruelty on a person long enough/ the mind begins to go (pg. 89)”. The death wish possessed by Antigone is confronted by Antigone herself, and observed and reported by Ismene. Given Antigone’s apparent death wish, her imprisonment in a bridal tomb is fitting, yet ironic. The bridal temple ironically ties itself to the line from page 88. Antigone has been wedded to death. Further, Antigone’s suicide is representative of everything Creon wants to avoid. He wanted her to abstain from death, and be forced to live in misery. However, with her suicide, she officiates her vow to death, within her bridal tomb. This ironic, yet accepted and desired death shows the fearlessness of Antigone. She aligned herself with death, and became content with the idea of life simply ending. The embracing of death is contrary to conventional human nature. The acceptance of death while youthful is courageous and enlightened. Further, this symbolizes one half of the duality towards death: acceptance, the contrarian, yet brave, attitude. The ultimate acceptances are Antigone finding a way to hang herself in an inescapable prison. This action symbolizes two things: the relentlessness of time and eventual death, and 2), taking one’s own life is the ultimate acceptance and embracing of death. This was why I love the setting and scenes of this play, they are symbolic of character’s attitudes towards themes and tones of the play. The scenery forces Antigone to show her true colours and allows us to see how courageous and wise this young girl truly is. Antigone’s courage evokes a few questions, such as, How do personal or cultural experiences shape how we perceive death? Why do we fear death? And, can true satisfaction be achieved, if we refuse to believe that everything is temporary?

The second, more human, side of duality when faced with death is Creon. Whereas Antigone shows an almost inhuman acceptance of death, Creon showed a fear of death. An example of this is on page 125, “harbour of death, so choked, so hard to cleanse!-/Why me? Why are you killing me? (pg. 125)”. The second half of the tone towards death is denial, and this is a shining example. Creon is both terrified and confused at the prospect of simply no longer existing. Death to him has always felt like a far off concept, a fate that he has sealed for many, but he had never been truly affected by the waves of grief. We all know death is the only certainty in life, but we seem to acknowledge it when it’s on our doorstep. We as a society tend to not think about others suffering, until we experience our own. It is nearly impossible to fully empathize without our own experience. This feeling of fear and helplessness that Creon feels is a fundamental part of the human experience. Further, the inability to empathize with something we haven’t experienced is humbling and humanizing for Creon’s previously overly-prideful character. This humanizes Creon in a way that allows me to sympathize with him more than I would with the courageous heroine, Antigone.

Reading Antigone had helped me understand some flaws I didn’t even know I had, and has pushed me to address them in a more serious manner. Anyone who knows me will tell you about my infamous stubbornness. My pride can also go unchecked at times. Before reading Antigone, I never really considered the consequences of the unconscious biases that stem from pride and stubbornness. It sometimes makes it difficult for me to take constructive feedback. This prevents me from embracing a growth-oriented mindset, and materializes as a large obstacle to personal growth. However, after reading this text, I will look into ways to self-regulate my stubbornness and pride, and how to whittle away at biases and fallacies that have taken root because of these oversights.

Oedipus Personal Response

Imagery is an underrated aspect of Oedipus the King. The sequences of vivid and thought-provoking imagery were both disturbing and fascinating. The perfect balance between engaging the reader and painting a visual representation of the story is my favourite feature of this play. My favourite exhibition of this is on page 186, “Cased in armour, Apollo son of the father/lunges on him, lightning-bolts afire!/And the grim unerring furies/closing for the kill(p. 186)”. My interpretation is that I believe this passage to be a metaphor for the tragedy that Oedipus endures. The tragedy first begins when he calls for the persons responsible for the murder of Laius to be ostracized in the kingdom, but unwillingly unleashes his own people’s fury on himself, almost uncanny as to how Apollo seeks to handout justice concerning religious law. This beautiful, haunting, and ironic imagery perfectly fits the tome and theme of the play, in which a seemingly human man, seals his own fate in an attempt to brutally rid his people of suffering. By threatening violence and exile in the name of royal and religious justice, he not only permanently loses the support of his people and gods, but also unleashes the unrelenting desire of his people, and his gods, for justice. This ironic, tragic, and unknowing twist is the best moment in the play. This play is full of small, cryptic-yet-imaginative summaries and metaphors of the play. This subtle foreshadowing kept me engaged as a reader, and prompted me to take a genuine interest in the story.

Another aspect of the play I loved is the variation of diction and variation of the formality of language. One example is a subtle passage of alliteration on page 231, “She was afraid–frightening prophecies”(pg. 231). The reversal when Oedipus unearths the truth of his birth is an intense scene, and the emotional climax of the play. This Shepard’s seemingly simplistic beg for mercy is the quotation that propels us into the most intense and emotion-packed part of the play. This repeating “f” sound in this quotation evokes fear and helplessness, the same emotions overwhelming the Shepard. This fear, defeat, and helplessness mirror what begins to weigh on Oedipus the moment he hears the Shepard’s news. The reason I love this part so much is that the torture victim, the tragic hero, and myself all were experiencing the same emotional distress in unison. This seems almost like a fourth-wall break to me, in the sense that at this one point I was fully immersed in this scene, and all of its grimy details.

The theme of being blind to truth, even though it is in front of your eyes is one myself, and many others, can relate to on a personal level. A few years ago, I had mysteriously misplaced my wallet after leaving it on my bed. I turned my family home upside down looking for it, but to no avail. I then, and this is something I still have guilt about, began accusing one of my siblings of stealing it. This turned to a screaming match, but after I stormed off to my bedroom, have a guess as to what I saw on the ground, poking out from behind my bedside table. I felt horrible, a combination of guilt and shame for berating a loved one for something they didn’t do. The arc from confusion, anger and frustration, and finally, guilt and shame. I had failed to see what was right in front of me, literally. This is the strongest personal connection I have to Oedipus. The confused accusation, the unrelenting effort to unearth the truth, and finally, the weight of guilt on my shoulders. The shame Oedipus feels is so great, that he must gouge out his eyes and exile himself. I didn’t feel like this was necessary, but the feeling of embarrassment, and wanting to disappear to escape from these awful feelings, was something that was all-too-real for me.

Who am I?

Hello, my name is Tristan Boxshall. I am from Canada, born in Vancouver and raised in Victoria. However, my entire family is English, just in case you are wondering why I constantly get teased for being “British”. I play a variety of sports including: tennis, volleyball and basketball. I have a strong passion for music and play the piano, along with cello and saxophone. This is my third year at Brookes, second year with Mr. MacKnight in English. Trust me two years feels like an eternity. I have one goal for this year which is to hand everything in on time. Ironically I have already failed as I am writing this post 5 days late. So I restate my goal and expectations, starting next week I will hand everything in on time and whenever possible I will try to be ahead of the work load as well as take the extra steps to prepare myself for classes. English is a hard subject and I often fell behind on assignments and posts last year which is why I am even more driven to do my absolute best this year. I am dreading the year ahead because I have heard it is a lot to handle and yet I am looking forward to the new friends, new learning and new experiences that come along with it.

Blog Intro

Hello, my name is Lennart and I am from Germany. I love literature and history. I am new to Brookes and as far I can tell, the english lessons with Mr. MacKnight are funny and exciting. For this school year I want to learn new things, For example, about Ancient Greece.

Introduction – Lada

Hello, my name is Lada and I am 16. I am from Ukraine and I enjoy quite a few things, but my favorites are drawing, painting, listening to music and writing. My favorite thing to do after school is spend time with my doggo ( her name is Yummy).
I hope to learn as much from this year as possible, I want the new knowledge to stay in my long term memory as well))
I am exited to participate in this English class because this is one of the subject that I enjoy.


Hello, my name is Leeland. I was born in Vancouver and now live in the greater Victoria area. Things I enjoy doing include computer stuff, video games, coding, and messing around with electronics. While relaxing or on long car journeys, I also enjoy reading. My favourite book is Dune by Frank Herbert. For physical activity, I enjoy sailing, both in big and small boats. If I am in the mood to roll my ankle, I will do some trail running. My goal this year in English is to improve at writing, understanding, and comparing texts. I think this year will be difficult, I think, and I am not looking forward to it.

Introducing Aristotle Chang

First of all, I am one of the remaining original student of Brookes Westshore (5th year) along with Michael Penn for DP1.

Hello, my name is Aristotle Chang. I am Canadian as I am born in Vancouver (BC Children hospital, which I love apparently, cause I go there on a almost yearly bases and lived there for a few months.) However, my parents and ancestors are all of true Taiwanese decent. My only true hobby is hunting. This includes fishing and generally all types of sea creature in the West Coast. Not only do I catch them, I eat them. This includes, crabs, prawns (ebi) (EAT RAW), claims, oysters (kaki)(EAT RAW), sea cucumber, sea urchin (uni) (MUST EAT RAW. COOKING IT IS A WAR CRIME), horse barnacle, kelp, snails, and much more. I have also gotten my firearm license earlier this year and I hope to go out and hunt for elk in this year’s hunting season if possible (I have yet to get my hunting license, but I may hunt with my father who is in possession of one.) Other then hunting, I like doing all sorts of activities and is love learning random things (though I may not remember all the information). I guess I also play video games quite a lot, read a lot of manga, and watch some anime.

As for what I hope to do in English this year, take notes and not die.

Class Blog Introduction

Hello, some of you may know me already, for those who don’t, my name is Taylor. I was born in North Vancouver and moved to the island when I was 5. I love to surf, play volleyball, read, watch movies, and of course, listen to music. Some interests of mine are economics, business, formula 1, and marine biology. I like all genres of music, but my absolute favourite era is anything from the 50’s to the 90’s. My favourite artists are (in no particular order) Elvis, Queen, Aerosmith, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Johnny Cash, Jack Johnson, and a bit of Run D.M.C. My favourite movies are Top Gun (the original one), Days of Thunder, Saving Private Ryan, The Shawshank Redemption, Blue Crush, and Gleaming the Cube.

My expectations/ hopes for this year are to improve my reading comprehension skills and to read more in general. Last year I really struggled with understanding some of the concepts we studied without the use of my laptop. So I hope to focus on that this year!


Hello, my name is Mahad and I am Canadian but my parents are from Pakistan. I enjoy playing sports like basket-ball and cricket, I also enjoy listening to music and talking to my friends. I am expecting to learn the same things as last year but at a greater extent. Things like efficient writing and poem analyzations are familiar to me but I am hoping to improve even more this year.

Who am I?

My name is Fawaz Ilupeju, I am 16 and I’m in your class, obviously. I’ve lived in Canada for 3 years but I come from Nigeria, and a few other countries. I have a lot of hobbies, some of them are; sports, reading, hanging with friends. I am hoping to push myself more this year and improve on certain weak points, while making the most of my time.

Hello Class Blog! – Montana

Hello! I’m Montana Avila-Piloyan, or Monty, I’ve lived in Canada the majority of my life, however, both my parents are immigrants who met here in Victoria! My dad’s from Nicaragua, and my mom’s from Armenia, and they both had an odd mess of a child, which is me! The eldest of three, I’ve become incredibly interested in film, storytelling, theatre, choreography and music, essentially all of the arts. I’m a semi-professional dancer and love to play volleyball, and my dream is to become involved in movie-making! Much of my enjoyment can be found in English, making it one of my favourite subjects!

I really hope that we read a lot of plays this year, as I’ve surprisingly not read that many. I hope we get the chance to do creative writing as well and have the chance to talk about what makes good stories. I expect myself to be pushed this year, and currently, I’m mentally preparing for that, but I also know that the challenging nature of English will enhance my understanding, and overall benefit my knowledge for the future.

Class Blog Intro

My full name is Wing Lam, Chung, but most of people here address me by my English name — Semvia. I was born in Hong Kong, a place in Asia where is filled of skyscrapers so I found it weird when I just arrived here. I came to Canada 2 years ago, since grade 9. Studying in another country is a fun and precious experience which I would never regret I made this decision. I play volleyball a lot so I guess it can be said as my interest(?), but I do hate it at the same time. I also play other kinds of sports like basketball and badminton, although I am not amazing at all these. Other than sports, my favourite thing to do is to do nothing or just go on my phone.

In DP1 English, I expect I will learn to analyze texts and write efficiently. I also hope my organizing skills can be improved by the end of the year. Apart from those, using language is also a category that I have to work on. These are my expectations of the coming year.

Introduction – Michael Penn

Hi I’m Michael, I am from Victoria BC and I live on a farm in Metchosin. I like sleeping and learning languages. I hope that English this year will teach me to be a better writer, reader, inquirer and I really hope it helps me improve my work habits. I hope everyone has a great year!

Class Blog Intro

Hello fellow students and Mr. Macknight. Most of you know that my name is Aneesha. For those who don’t, I look forward to meeting you in the future. I was born in Rhode Island but have lived most of my life in Victoria. One of the best things about Vancouver Island is its natural beauty. This is why one of my favorite things to do is to go on walks with my dog. Another pass time of mine is to listen to music, mostly hip hop.

Regarding DP 1 English, my expectations are to learn new things and to read interesting books.  My hopes are that by the end of the year I improve my writing skills. Specifically, criteria D because I struggled with this in MYP 5. I will try to approach DP 1 English with my best effort.

Class Blog Intro

My name is Russell. I was born and grew up in Victoria. I like to get outdoors in my free time, and do things like hiking and trail running. My hope for this year is to do well, but not to fail any assignments in this class this year.