climbing the knowledge ladder

Most immigrants come to America to create a better life for themselves and their children. However, there are many new challenges that these immigrants must face, such a learning a new language. In order to fit in with American culture and succeed, many individuals feel pressured to learn English. This pressure may also be reinforced by the government, as the Tennessee Department of Education says that students must be proficient in English by 7th grade or they will be classified as long-term English learners. Despite this order, the Tennessee government is not providing the resources needed for the children of immigrants to learn English. This is a very frustrating conundrum for immigrant parents.

This is not an issue of questioning whether children should be forced to learn English by a certain time frame because many groups have argued the appropriate cutoff point for an English learner. To me, it doesn’t matter that students have to learn English by a certain age. What is more alarming to me is that the children of immigrants are forced to learn English at all. Through this investigation, I want to think through why feeling forced to learn a new language is even an issue that needs to be talked about.

At the basis of the issue, I want to ask: How many students are not proficient in English? Asking this question will show how big of issue this even is. Though, regardless of the answer, forcing children to learn English is still an issue. Even if only a small percentage of students are not proficient in English, it is still a very real problem for those students. They are still facing inequality without any help from the government. Not being able to learn English and being marked as not proficient will affect even the smallest percentage of students’ entire lives. They may be denied jobs or seen as unintelligent. In order to get to the heart of understanding why this is an issue, it is important to understand this basic statistic. However, this basic question will not allow to understand why this is an issue and why it is continuing. Further questioning will be necessary to determine the core issues and beliefs that are behind putting important on English proficiency.

To get closer to the fundamentals of this issue the next question I want to ask is: Who can decide what proficiency in a language is? Language is very fluid, as it can change over time and from place to place. People in New York speak English differently than people in the South, who speak it differently than those in Elizabethan era Britain. Because of this, there is not one primary way that proficiency in English could be measured. Also, most native English speakers don’t know every word in the language, so where is the cutoff for proficiency? Perhaps it is the students being able to understand their schoolbooks or being able to hold conversations with their friends. This arbitrary line is defined by the Tennessee Department of Education, which is given this authority simply because they were the first to establish a rule. When asking who can decide proficiency, we are asking why do we give the authority to the Department of Education? Just like there is no concrete, uniform way to determine proficiency in a language, there is no concrete reason that the authority should be given to the Department of Education or anyone.

After asking who has the authority to determine how well someone speaks a particular language, the next question would be: What makes one language or culture more important than another? There is no reason to even require an authority if there is no justification for enforcing a particular language. Even people who don’t live in America that don’t speak English are looked down upon by many Americans and seen as unintelligent. These native English speakers believe this because they see their language as superior. While it is useful to have common languages for trade and business, there is no reason to place English over other languages. Forcing people to learn English to speak more commonly than their native languages leads to language erasure. Since language is an important part of culture, language erasure could lead to culture erasure, which leads to a lack of diversity. From this conclusion, the most broad question that could be asked about this issue is: Why is diversity important? Those that argue for the superiority of English would likely also believe that diversity is not important. Diversity makes global commerce and trade agreements more difficult because of language and cultural barriers. However, without diversity, there would not be as many resources to trade. The world would all be ordinary and uniform. Without diverse cultures, there would be less history and current events to learn about and a lack of various resources.


reliance on selectivism

Opposable thumbs, forming new languages, the capacity to consciously destroy our own environment, these are all things that make humans different from other organisms. Another thing that makes humans different, even from each other, is that we have biases. We usually don’t even realize that we have these biases, but they shape so many of our daily decisions. It’s okay to be biased. It’s okay to have opinions. We all have them. Sometimes, our biases our biases are involved in our important decisions, and sometimes, those important decisions are made using intuition. Intuition is instinctive and subconscious, and bias is instinctive and subconscious. It seems like these two would cancel each other out so that they become a powerful decision making team. However, their problems can end up compounding each other to cause us to make bad decisions, choices, or beliefs.

I admit that I have some beliefs that are affected by my bias. They are mostly affected by my confirmation bias. This is a form of bias where you ignore information that goes against something you already believe in, which causes your belief in that topic to become even stronger. I’ve realized that I selectively ignore information in two completely unrelated topics: astrology and the Harry Potter universe.

In terms of astrology, I always find an excuse when someone doesn’t act like how I would expect their sign to act. This even comes into play when I’m guessing someone’s sign. One time, I guessed that someone was a Gemini using my intuition and they turned out to be a Sagittarius, which are opposite signs and completely different from each other. Instead of accepting that astrology may not be as accurate as I believe it is, I justified this by saying there must be Gemini somewhere else in her birthchart. I still don’t know if that is accurate, but it satisfies my bias. I’m completely making up information to keep my belief in something that I believe so strongly in. Astrology’s importance to me as a person is more important to me than being correct. It is strongly based on speculation and intuition, so it is a good way for me to see my intuition in action. Not only has it shown me how intuition can be unreliable because of biases. It has also shown me that I should trust it sometimes, which is what makes it a complicated way to know information. Once, I couldn’t decide if someone was a Virgo or a Libra, and he turned out to be a Virgo/Libra cusp, which means that he displayed both characteristics. Intuition is tricky like that. It is difficult to know when it will be reliable and when it won’t.

Similarly to zodiac signs, Hogwarts houses are an important indicator of someone’s personality. I don’t actually know what my Hogwarts house is because I’ve never been able to navigate the Pottermore website. So, I assigned myself to a house. I chose Ravenclaw because I relate to its values the most and it just seems like the right house for me. This was an intuitive choice for me. I didn’t realize that this was a biased choice until other people told me that I act more like a Hufflepuff. Online quizzes, Harry Potter enthusiasts, and astrology posts have told me that I belong in the house of the badger. I chose to ignore all of them and continue to say that I’m a Ravenclaw. My intuition feels like the right decision for me, but it may not be the most factually correct. I probably won’t have to make arguments regarding my Hogwarts house, but relying incorrectly on intuition as the basis for other arguments will not be effective at all. The real world needs facts.

Both of my examples have shown that intuition is a complicated way to know information because it is difficult to know whether you can trust it or not. One way that you can try to understand it is through determining your biases for the given situation. If you know that you are biased, you know that you should most likely put less trust into your intuition for that particular topic.

come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure rationality

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world and all there will ever be to know and understand.” -Albert Einstein

I don’t really agree with this quote. I rely very much on reason and logic in my daily life, so I think that knowledge is more important than imagination. You need knowledge to base your imagination off of. For example, you might use imagination to think about how good of a time your friends are having on a Friday night while you’re watching Netflix eating a pint of cookie dough ice cream. You still need the knowledge of what your friends look like, what they enjoy doing, and what the place they are going to looks like. You’re not actually there with them, but you can imagine what the situation looks like using your knowledge. While imagination does allow you to be in a place that you aren’t, it is still limited by the knowledge that you have. Architects can imagine new buildings and mechanical engineers can imagine new cars, but they use their existing knowledge of what a building needs to stand upright or what a car needs to run. Imagination is limited by knowledge, so knowledge is more powerful than imagination.

I acknowledge that my viewpoint on this quote is biased, but who’s viewpoint on anything isn’t biased? People know things in different ways. Some people’s main way of knowing is imagination, so they would be biased to agree with this quote. I think my main way of knowing information is through reason. I don’t rely on things that aren’t irrational (ie. emotion or imagination). I rely on the stability that logic provides me, so I’m biased to say I disagree with the quote.


sounds good feels good

This song is a sort of musical oxymoron. It starts out sounding like every other pop song, where the singer is obsessed with every beautiful woman they see. Then, after the head banging guitar riff, the song completely transforms. It turns into an angsty but inspirational teenage anthem. I believe this was a risky move for 5 Seconds of Summer, depending on how the listener interprets this stark contrast. New listeners of the band may hear the cliche beginning, assume this is just like every other song out there, and turn away from 5SOS’ vapid lyrics for good. However, if a long time fan or an open minded listener chooses to stick through the beginning, they might realize the meaning behind this song. This probably wasn’t the smartest decision, considering the goal of most mainstream artists is to gain traction and the support of new fans. In terms of meaning, though, I feel like this song has a lot to offer, if the listener is willing to hear it. This song discusses many problems that teenagers, 5SOS’ primary fanbase, have to face. Teenagers struggle with finding the motivation to get through college, teenagers have huge aspirations that sometimes seem unattainable, and teenagers get called losers or crazy sometimes. 5SOS reassures that all of this is okay and normal. They went through it too, which is very inspiring to their fans. They belt out that we should all embrace the fact that we’re struggling and make the most of it, shouting “We are the kings and the queens of the new broken scene.” This is a very inspiring message to those who look up to the band. However, this type of personal connection is again a risky move. The meaning only carries through for fans of the group or those who are longing for a pick me up. The only reason that calling the audience losers in this song works is because it was made for the fans, who long to find the personal meaning their idols poured into the music. This song would have been better suited as just another track on the album, rather than a single. It’s catchy, but it’s also personal. Personal doesn’t sell.

While critiquing this song, I had a responsibility to comment on it fairly. This means removing all bias, or as much as possible. I’m a fan of 5 Seconds of Summer, but that doesn’t mean I think this is the best song ever or without fault. That also doesn’t mean I should have written this critique from the perspective of a 5SOS fan because that wouldn’t be fair to those reading my critique. People look to critics for objective statements on everything. My opinion on this song is an influence on whether or not people will go listen to it and/or appreciate it, which is why its important to both the subject and the audience that I remain unbiased.


I’m not superstitious but I am a little stitious

I am superstitious about a few things, but for the most part I’m not. I sometimes cross my fingers for good luck, and I don’t open umbrellas inside or walk under ladders. The main reason I follow those superstitions anyway is because I’ve been told them from a young age and they are constantly reinforced in me. For example, many TV shows portray black cats as evil or bad, so that belief is continually fortified. Because my superstitions are mainly supported by society, I don’t have any personal lucky objects that I would be afraid of losing. I have sentimental objects, such as a stuffed dog I sleep with, but nothing that I carry with me for luck. Like I said before, I follow some of the more common and simple superstitious practices, such as picking up pennies for good luck. I don’t do anything major or anything that would require me to expend a lot more energy or effort. For example, I don’t carry around a rabbit’s foot for good luck. I obviously believe in my superstitions otherwise I wouldn’t do things like cross my fingers for good luck, and I don’t listen to people when they tell me it doesn’t do anything. Therefore, I guess I have a lot of belief in them.