Best of Journals

Shame

Shame by Dick Gregory is an excerpt that describes the factors and events leading to his realization of the emotion, shame.  This recount sparked within me the idea of childhood ignorance. Children aren’t prone to being as depressed as adults due to unfavorable circumstances. They react differently because they don’t know how to react appropriately or they eagerly latch onto something to dismiss negativity. Gregory’s child mind did not properly register the concept of shame until it was, quite literally spat in his face.  His comparisons of pregnancy and the unfavorable conditions he endured as a child were very interesting. Pregnancy means the carrier is bearing weight, figuratively and literally. Gregory deals with the weight of emotional burdens as well as the physical burdens of being poor, fatherless, and discriminated. I want to know if he ever truly knew of what shame was before this event. Was there another event that caused an extreme reaction like this one? This event is what caused him to find shame in various aspects of his childhood. His clothes, activities, and his surroundings all brought shame. He may have felt negative about these aspects but was it the classroom incident that caused him to label this negativity as “shame”?  Helene is another aspect of this story that is frightening and compelling. Did Gregory ever convey his motivation in life to her?  I don’t believe he considered telling her during his development as that would have ruined the motivation. After he came to be proud of his successes in life, I believe would be the right time to reveal his motivation. Although the excerpt doesn’t bring any specific works into mind, the topic of shame and it’s affect on individuals is a popular subject in various works. Shame is a critical part of our development as adults. Childhood acts are either remembered fondly or with shame and regret. Finding shame in something you have done can lead to you developing from that shame and improving upon it. When my father leaves to work, I sometimes feel shame in not accompanying him. My parents push me to focus on my studies and I realize that education leads to prestigious work. However, this does not simmer the personal shame I feel for my lack of support. This brings me to my final question about Gregory. Did he feel shame for himself, for his family, or because of his family? Inquiries can be made about his emotions but I would like to hear the answer from his own words.

The Purpose of Education 

One of the points that Dr.King makes is that education has been heavily affected by propaganda, bias, and the influences of others. He believes that these factors prevents education from allowing the student to think for themselves.

Education attempts to teach a subject to several students as efficiently as possible. To do this, a teacher many often uses the current political atmosphere and the works of recognized individuals. Often this dissolves into an analysis of these thoughts and in modern society, it seems one’s work is rarely taken seriously without consulting the works of another first. Using a typical English class as an example, students are instructed to have free thought on a work but their thoughts must be accompanied by reference to the author’s work and said free thought is limited within the limits of this work. The student may choose not to follow these restrictions but it may not result in a good grade. Dr.King is correct in that education fails to allow the student to think for themselves because education demands that the student reference prior works to achieve success.

However, it can also be said that success can be found by improving on the works of those before. Examples can include scientists making advancements in fields that have been extensively explored for years or mathematicians improving the efficiently of older formulas. If one were to work diligently and strive to improve upon what has already been established, perhaps they can surpass their idols and make these improvements their own thoughts, their own works.

Despite this positive, it can also be argued that this does not falsify Dr.King’s point. He stated that propaganda, bias, and the influences of others prevents original thought. Despite the improvements made to the works of those prior, despite the efforts to mold a subject to fit into a unique mindset, the thought was never original. It can also never be original because improvements and expansions are built upon the ideas of others in modern education.

This brings another question, just how far can we improve upon the works of others? When will we reach a point where “original thoughts” can longer be made. Will we reach a point where all thought stems from what we have heard or believe society deems correct? Or have we already reached that point?

Small Change

After reading Gladwell’s article, several questions arise regarding society’s current use of technology. Modern society is heavily dependent on technology but is this necessarily a downfall? The advancement of technology has always been to make tasks easier and increase their effectiveness. In the article, Gladwell specifically views social media and its affect on the development of protests/social issues.  The heavy use of  social media supports this idea. It allows the circulation of  ideas and topics without the need for much materials like the press, it can take mere seconds for an article to be posted, and it can spread quicker due to the nature of the Internet. Being heavily dependent on technology is not a weakness if we are prepared to adapt to its absence. This is why newspaper and physical literature, although slowed, has not disappeared.

“Should the revolution be tweeted?” Gladwell summarizes a perspective regarding this question near the end of the article.  “Social networks are effective at increasing participation—by lessening the level of motivation that participation requires.” This statement is true, the rise of social media has increased the accessibility of these protests. History often highlights the protests and efforts of individuals of the past because of the lack of technology. To make your voice heard, one had to be prepared to physically offer themselves to the issue, fully take the abuse from those who disagreed. Currently, anyone can make a user name and post controversial topics and their opinion to the public. This has little consequence or weight because those who disagree with you can’t put a face or a real name to that opinion. The next revolution can be tweeted but it can’t be as substantial if participants can opt in risk free.

The Master’s Tools 

What are the circumstances that cause Adderall to be so prevalent among college students? The pressures of the education system and the hectic nature of  higher education are the prime factors in fueling the desperation for this academic steroid. Due to the tight scheduling of  semesters in college, there is less room for error when compared to high school. High school semesters are typically 90 days and it is mostly guaranteed to meet the core classes every school day. College semesters last from 12 to 15 weeks and core classes meet at least twice a week. The classes are longer to somewhat compensate for this substantial decrease in time but it still pales in comparison. What if an emergency prevents you from attending a class for that week? The high school student has four other days of the week to make up work and catch up with the rest of the class. The college student has one other class for the week and will have to work around their own schedule and the  professor’s schedule if they wish to receive direct assistance. The academic steroid seems appealing for those tackling the work they have missed in addition to the other occupations of the week such as work or internships to pay for these missed classes. Exams are also treated similarly in both institutions. However, college students do not have nearly the same amount of time to prepare for midterms and finals. In addition to this, the heavy depth of some of these classes like organic chemistry requires most time to be dedicated to studying for these exams. This could mean that there are only two exams that represent the entire course. Again, Adderall seems very appealing to the college student who is anxious about the first exam of the course. Adderall is so popular among college students because they are facing the same expectations/greater expectations of high school but with less room for error.

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