Archive for the ‘Expression’ Category

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Kevin Rudd – a human?

Rudd blubberingFor Australia it’s a day of transition but maybe it’s also a reminder to us of our human roots. Yes, that’s right, human roots. Seeing Kevin Rudd cry meant a lot to me. Many see him as a dispassionate and ‘fake’ person but to see him cry today was something that I feel really captured the human condition and perhaps our ignorance of what it means to be human. I’m not sure where I stand in the land of politics or what I think of Rudd (or Gillard for that matter) but the most important thing that I took out of today was that Kevin is a person like the rest of us, with a conscience, with passion, and perhaps sometimes well-meaning.

It makes me sad that politics are more a game than about human connection and honesty. But what I take from Rudd’s “blubbering” is that he meant well generally, that what he was doing came from the very root of him as a personal; it was not artificial but rather a genuine attempt at helping the people of this country. Tears are usually truthful, they are one of the few things that speak of us better than words. If we can listen to his tears we can deduce that to him being the prime minster was at least partially about helping people with problems that he personally was captivated by and had a real understanding of. The main ones that come to me are the tissue transplants and the apology to the stolen generation. I think we can understand the genuineness and the sincerity of those acts – these were things that played on Kevin’s conscience and he meant to do something about them. He being personally affected by a heart problem was appreciative and aware of the value of transplants; how they change a person’s life and the kindness of the act of improving someone else’s life. Similarly Kevin showed how he was swayed on the human level based on the reactions of the stolen generations when they came to parliament – much contrasting this image of an emotionless and uncompromising prime minister who acted only for personal gain. Not that I am ruling that out, but I think it is important to notice the other side, the human side.

We also should recognise the pressures on him as a prime minister. To many he was the promise man but what can someone do if their party will lose the preference of the population if they act otherwise. This is where people are defined as leaders, and we see whether or not they are true to themselves and how they can adapt to adversity. Being true doesn’t mean doing everything that you think is right, but it means doing things that you are comfortable with. Whether or not Rudd was true to what he wanted we will never know, but many probably feel a bit let down by the “promise man” and they are probably entitled to.

But already the mindless criticism of Rudd starts and so go the despicable idiots that have little capacity to acknowledge the situation. Just now I saw of someone accusing Rudd so point the blame on others. Perhaps they watched a 5 second clip on the news or skimmed the headline of an entertainment website such as ninemsn. I suppose this is all part of the inherent evil or at least selfishness within us, some of which Rudd displayed and certainly some of which Abbott displays. Rudd displayed it just today in retrospect (after reading an opinion piece), he didn’t really acknowledge any of his mistakes or congratulate Julia Gillard (formally that is). The vileness of politics is terrible. I think this is really exemplified by the asylum seeker debate, how people can hate refugees is beyond me. Using them for political advantage is worse and I hope that Gillard stays true to what she says and that is that she will keep Abbott honest on this while still being mindful of the Australian people’s very unrealistic concern. Here’s my concern though: I’m a bit worried about Gillard because I’m not sure she did a super-good job on education. In fact some aspects of it were just horrible. For example, classrooms crammed with dusty computers are useless: we don’t use them that much. A bit mis-directed are the NAPLAN tests. I also hope that the new national curriculum is flexible and not a rigid plan that does not allow for different learning styles and different learning philosophies.

Just one more thing I liked – Rudd’s breaking of the status quo. I liked that he broke convention and said women and men instead of ‘men and women’. It’s a small thing but I found it refreshing.

But yeah I’m just looking at another side of things, I’m not saying I like or dislike Rudd, it is just that politics should move away from its manipulative side. We should consider the human side of things. Anyway I would like to write a more cohesive and balanced piece but it’s late, and that means the soccer is on, and Wimbledon.

Kids, being childish.

Kids are interesting people. I’m curious about their curiosity and about how they think. They’re pretty amazing if you think about it. They are always observing and reviewing what they observed. In many ways a kid’s world is somewhat surreal. They are constantly evaluating and questioning their surroundings. They seek a way to try and fit into these surroundings and identify with others but at the same time the foreignness of their environment leaves them bamboozled and unable to absorb all the cues that they receive at once in a sense. I still have memories of it.

I can remember that you are in some way disillusioned to what is happening. Many things you understand, but some things are sort of indefinite and you question why they occurred or what exactly happened. These are my earliest memories, when I was about 3 or 4 years old. For example, I recall chipping my tooth in the bath but I am pretty sure that at the time I knew that it happened but when I replayed it in my mind it was unclear. I recall being at my relatives place but not really knowing what was happening. So in a way kids are still working at assessing their environment, perhaps that explains why we can’t bring back things from before the age of 3 or so. Some things are incomprehensible and cloudy at this age. But kids aren’t dumb. When adults talk about them behind their back but right to their face they listen and they comprehend generally. A kid is an expert on themselves so they probably understand more when the subject is them.

It disturbs me to see how kids are denigrated and alienated. In many ways they are better thinkers than a lot of adults; they are actually pretty smart. They have unique ideas and they offer a different perspective. They have the ability to think outside an adult’s normal scope of thoughts. Their exuberance and cheekiness is really cool. It shows a freedom within what can be an oppressive environment that is very restrictive. Too often they are either ignored or their opinion devalued. I really hate the phrase “do what you’re told”. It encompasses all of these schismatic notions of adult superiority and child inferiority. We aren’t polar opposites and kids aren’t disabled in any way. Their ideas are just changing more rapidly as they develop their identity and a sense of belonging.

Kids are also inherently selfish. Whether it is about being first in line or not sharing a toy they instinctively look after themselves first. I suppose it is something that is part of us as humans however through interactions which see that we can further be benefitted by sharing and teaming with others. The end goal is still self benefit though. In many ways we expect a reciprocal relationship and this is part of what is didactically told to kids – help someone and they will help you. Whether that is wrong or not I’m not sure, but I think kids should actively develop their own thoughts, rather than being force-fed ideas that they are expected to adopt unthinkingly.

This ‘childish’ label that we give to people is harmful. Being childish should be considered a compliment, or it should be removed from our vocabulary. Kids can be silly and immature, but they can also be insightful and creative. They are fascinating.

Wouldn’t it be cool if school…? Part I

This is something that I’m probably going to explore more extensively in another post but I thought I’d give it a mention while I sort of feel like it. I’m just sitting out in the backyard (I was in the sun until it left) on my laptop. Having a great time, and learning. But that sort of stuff doesn’t happen at school. At least not normal schools; where teachers teach and students get taught. Where you sit down and absorb what is told didactically and then you hear that you are becoming an adult and are in control of your own life. That’s a reality for school students – discipline, respect, all that shit. Bullshit that is.

I was sitting in the library a few days ago (at lunchtime) half doing an exam, half listening to the conversation of two teachers. One was listening to the other (sound familiar?) give her tips on how to control the class, a younger class. Here’s the gist of what was being said: your tone should be very firm and should demonstrate the expectations that you have of the students, they should be very clear on what you want because some of them don’t know. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera – the teacher went on to show the other how she varied her tone to gain control of the class. Now I’m sure this teacher and the one listening aren’t inherently ill-meaning or anything. They are just accepting of social standards. Oh and all this came after me listening to one of the librarians ask “which was the student who questioned the teacher’s instructions?”. I love that. “No student should ever question the teacher”. What if the teacher is wrong? What if someone has a constructive suggestion?

Austerity is promoted in school – as a good way to get students to achieve academically. I’m amazed at the divisive nature of the student-teacher relationship. It doesn’t work, when kids are free to form their own style, that’s when things become enjoyable and rewarding. When I “teach” I don’t want to be the teacher. I want to be the dude that comes in every day and watches others learn while I’m learning. I want people to call me by my first name. I want the classroom to be a malleable concept instead of a tangible object – kids should interact, express ideas, form ideas; however they feel, wherever they feel – even out in the sun reading other peoples’ blogs on the internet and drinking tea, like me.

How did the world start?

Time for another post. So I might as well explore an idea that constantly reoccurs in my mind. Only I can’t explore any more than I usually explore.

It fascinates me, and confuses me, to think of how the world started. Here’s my pattern of thought: What would there be if there was nothing, if we didn’t exist? Air. Wait, but that is a thing – something exists. Okay, then rock. Wait, but that’s is still a thing, that exists. But then if there wasn’t rock, what was there?  What is nothing? Why did anything have to start in the first place? What is the point of everything anyway? And so continues this convoluted train of thought on a convoluted idea with a convoluted explanation. Maybe there is no explanation. But it amazes me how things function now so perfectly, synchronously and usually explainably. We keep understanding what is happening around us, theories become laws, but then we can’t explain how the world started.

As somewhat of an atheist this is one thing that confuses me, and keeps me uncertain. About many things.

Sophisticated Language – Is complexity necessary?

Language is often overused and it is an observation that I have made since I was young. But I have somewhat changed my interpretation of my observation. Before, it was laziness that somewhat satisfied my belief that a narrow vocabulary is suffice in expressing ideas. Now, it is my self-pride driven aim to achieve a good study score for English that has given me the opportunity to explore beyond my previous Ideology. It’s also my frustrations in expressing myself that have prompted me to search for better ways. I witness the fluency of English teachers’ use of language and I am somewhat impressed by the power of language. After all, it is necessary to be able to impress your view upon others and a wider vocabulary gives a scope to do this.

This is also where disparity between the language use of two people can collide. Language can easily leave us alienated. Why use a word that others will not understand? This is somewhat limiting for the listener, but it also inhibits the person’s expression of self. It is like many things in society – we cannot always abide to the conventional and a breadth of expression allows us to communicate uniquely. Cliche is one of the most deabilitating things, it forces us to converge, and I can see phrases becoming more and more popular – littered throughout social networking sites, it is the same thoughts that we hear that are starting to resonate exponentially. It is depressing. This is not to say that cliches are worthless. Use of cliches is inevitable. I am sure I have used heaps here in my writing. And it it is obvious that there is a reason that they have formed – it is because they have expressed an idea so lucidly, or perhaps, they can be applied universally to a variety of topics. As a Greek speaker, I see cliches transcend beyond languages. They are in a way beautiful, but they should be used with appreciation, not mindlessly. I should also bring up something that scares me… Kids are all being fed the same things (another minor cliche, why fed? Why not another word?). What is ‘taught’ in school, is pretty much the same. Why do we always associate the same thing with say, stars? Why do they twinkle? Why not sparkle, glimmer, flicker?

So, personally, I am trying to expand my vocubalary. It is not just that by the way. A good vocabulary does not make someone a good communicator. It is about many things, and aside from the grammatical aspect, voice is one of the most important things to develop. I sort of feel like I am losing it though. It is easy to simulate the writing of other’s, and that is fine in a sense, how many people have written over the years? Of course we are going to extract from what we liked. But it kind of shits me that in one of the major outcomes of improving my English this year, the VCE, unique voice will not necessarily be rewarded. It depends who is marking. Ideally I should not care about the mark. It is easy to become lazy though, I can write like someone else and achieve the same mark that I would have if I was writing in my own voice.

There will always be needless overuse of language. There will always be banality and cliche. I hope that I can transcend this, although it is easy to be slack and succumb to this. I can see that in my effort to overcome the language barrier that limits expression I am making mistakes. Sometimes I use the wrong synonym, rarely I forget the meaning of a word. But it is important to expand vocabulary and convey things differently to others. Verbally, I struggle to do this. In fact, a teacher of mine once said that I am “one of the few people who write better than they speak”. I think he meant it comparatively considering the speed at which you have to process things when you talk – of course people will be more fluent in writing. Hopefully I can progressively develop a well-defined personal voice that is evident in both speech and writing (and anything else that I do).

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