Contemporary Issues Final

Noah Caldwell (12/20/11)
Contemporary Issues Final

We live in a global society. All is connected, none stand alone, and everything affects everything. At any second of any day, one could easily choose to communicate with someone across the globe through text, voice, or even video. There are immense advantages to such interconnectivity of nations, but it also has many drawbacks.
The United States produces many crops. Out west, you would astounded at how much corn is grown there. You can drive on the freeway on a completely flat plain, and see nothing but corn and asphault to the horizon. Once upon a time, a few years ago, that combined with the cotton from Virginia and the southern states’ tobacco would be more than enough to make this country one of the most influential, wealthy, and powerful in the world. That was before the Information Age began. Now, food alone is not a viable way to success. Computers, oil gasoline, rare metals, and cars are just a few examples of more advanced industries. It takes all of these to make a country truly great- without them, that country is lacking. Another side effect of globalization is that no countries are truly independent. Legally? Sure. Do most of the people think so? Sure. But if you take a modern country, and you remove all the others off the map, that country could not live life the same way. Many would survive, but many would not be able to adapt. Do this to any country, and most of the time, they will find themselves very lacking- probably lacking many things. Because of this, it is more important that peace is kept between countries, which is is likely to persuade politicians to compromise. Unfortunately, when they refuse to compromise, it causes many problems, and any country that is truly self-sufficient has an unfair advantage over other countries because it can afford to wage war on any (disregarding what the attackee’s allies might do).
The people of the United States were once very different from who we are now. Part of that is so because of a different economic and political situation. Disregarding that, our culture has, in many ways, changed. We place a much greater emphasis on success and achievement, and owning things than others. We borrow money we don’t own to buy a car we can’t afford to impress people we don’t know (and who don’t know us!). As far as I can tell, it seems that we used to be far more patriotic of our country. In WWII, all the men left to go fight. If you stayed behind for any other reason than that you led a large business or otherwise helped the war effort, people would… I don’t want to say persecute, but basically, yes, that would happen. Now? If we were in a war as large as that, I do not believe there would be nearly as much social pressure to join the military and give our country honor. Success and achievement is more personal now. Many do feel extremely patriotic about our country now, and would sign up in a heartbeat to protect their family and friends. Unfortunately, despite their being many more of us now, I don’t think as many would enlist now as did then. That is, in my opinion, rather shameful. On the other hand, many would refuse to join because of their beliefs against violence, which is not such a terrible thing in itself.
One final effect of globalization is that politics are much more… extreme. The stakes are higher (many more lives exist to care for), the demands are higher (tangentially related to population), and it is harder. Media follow your every move, and any slipup is broadcast all over the world, causing billions to know about it. Worse, if you fix that mistake, you can’t be sure that the people who heard about your mistake haven’t already changed their mind and are no longer paying any attention to you, so they don’t hear of how you resolved the problem. There are many more people that will feel the effects of the government’s choice, and it must, in turn, become that much more effective. It is impossible to achieve a solution where every party is completely happy every time. Perhaps there is sometimes a way for that to happen, but most of the time, the leader just does the best he or she can.Unfortunately, that will never be good enough- nor should it be. Were the pressure to be lessened, the quality of the work might be lowered, which is unacceptable.
The United States has always stood as a symbol of freedom. Liberty. We still do. It is hard to bring the belief that people rule themselves to other countries when we cannot keep ourselves healthy and prosperous, however. We must be an example to others; a beacon for all to believe in. That will only happen if we can keep ourselves moving forward. If we stand still, others will pass us, and possibly destroy all we have worked for. We cannot allow the dreams of some of mankind’s brightest minds to fade away because it is too much work, or we are too preoccupied with ourselves. We must believe that it is possible, that we can do it, and that it will be done.

Hon. English II Finals Essay

The prompt went something like this:
“Current research has shown that 12th graders are leaving high school less and less prepared this year. Exit exams have been put into place in many school systems; if the senior does not pass these exams, they will not be allowed to graduate. How do you feel about this? In a well-developed essay, describe whether or not this is a good idea.”

Noah Caldwell (12/20/11)
Hon. English II Midterms

Research has suggested that modern 12th graders are leaving high school less and less prepared each year. In an effort to prevent this, some states require that all graduates pass assigned exams to leave high school. I think this is rather misguided- tests don’t make kids learn, teachers do.
If we ignore the research pointing towards kids not learning very much, we have a basic situation: kids go to school, learn something (hopefully), and go home. Tests are considered an important part of education now, because our society places emphasis on knowing who is better at what (even though you can’t really assign numbers to knowledge or intelligence). The tests are there as a message to kids, teachers, and prospective employers to tell how much this kid understood the lessons in this course.
Now consider the research. It implies that high schoolers are learning less and less each year (or that standards are being raised; in any case, the kids are less prepared). Oh no! Why is this happening? The first step to solving a problem is finding the root of it. Are parents placing a lesser emphasis on learning, or are they accepting poorer results? Are the teachers of a lower quality, or are they teaching more and more every year? Is this just standard deviation that will even out in time? Is the research faulty somehow? Possibly. Any one of those questions could hold the solution to this problem. It seems that the student is being blamed for this: obviously they are not studying enough.
Perhaps that is true- I would certainly believe it. But placing more tests to ensure that high schoolers are learning enough is not an ideal solution, nor a universal one. Many kids simply do bad on standardized tests. Many teachers fail to teach all they are supposed to, but instead teach what the class can understand. I sympathize with them- sometimes the requirements for those classes can be very difficult. Most importantly of all, tests do not teach anything. Teachers teach, and tests test. Sure, if the test is failed, we can sentence the child to another year of high school- but will they really want to stay another year? And would they learn anything new this time around? It is no secret that the vast majority of high schoolers are biased against learning new things (in my experience). If we keep shipping them through the system because they cannot pass our mandated requirements, we have an eventual clog.
A much more effective and longer-lasting solution would be to get kids interested in learning, and then they might put more effort into school. They might even do independent research on a subject that interests them! Instead of talking about how important college is (not to downplay that), talk about how much fun knowledge is, and all the cool things you can do with it! Hold mock trials in Government. Build rockets and bridges in Chemistry and Physics. Predict how far the rockets will go in math. Reenact important events in History, and build software that everyone has interest in (like a city planner, or a simple but addictive game) during computer classes. Build an engine in automotive classes, and play the latest hits in band. The most important thing a kid can learn in high school is that learning is fun, and does not have to be a chore. If they know that, then a teacher’s work will be complete.

Labor Day

???????I wrote this in U.S. Gov/Contemporary Issues today. It was a rewrite for a fail-essay. (Everyone rewrote their essay, because they were all awful. No one included any of the three supporting reasons she asked for.) My teacher, Mrs. Coley, said she would enter it in the Constitution Day contest. I still don’t know what that is, though. I’ll Google it.

(Topic): Is the Constitution really necessary?

Rules exist to benefit those they apply to, and sometimes even those that they don’t. The Constitution was a document written for the good of all man, though more immediately for the residents within it’s effective boundaries.

The Constitution makes life better for all who live under it in several ways. It allows for civil and unalienable rights, and makes the maintaining of those rights it’s primary purpose. I believe it is the fairest government ever created.
One of these, and the most prized of these central rights, is the right to govern yourself. The Constitution fulfills this admirably. Considering how many citizens live in the United States, it would be simply impossible for every person to vote in favor of or against every law, and still allow ample time for debate! Instead, every citizen has the right to vote for the candidate whom they believe embodies their best interests. That candidate debates and votes for citizens of his area.
When you commit a crime, you are not tortured until you confess. You are not brought to the gallows and simply ‘dealt with’. Every citizen, once accused, is brought before a jury of his peers, who eventually decide whether or not he is guilty. Before that happens, the accused provide their evidence, and you are allowed to defend yourself. I believe, along with thousands of others, that this is the fairest possible way of deciding whether or not someone is guilty.
You have the right to do most anything that will not harm others, and does not violate other’s rights or property. You can go outside and talk about why you think our government is the worst in the world without fear of being imprisoned or even reprimanded.

The Constitution was created with the intention of revolutionizing many millennium of improperly balanced governments. It’s founders wished to rectify the eternal predicament of rulers oppressing the ruled. The only method they found- indeed, the only proper one that we know of- was that which centered upon the rights of the individual. It was created with the idea that a nation consists solely of it’s citizens, all of whom are equal, and that any authority figures became figures of authority by being elected to that position by their fellow countrymen. Thus, all have the right to lead and contribute to our fine Country. It is only those who have the ability to lead that do so.

-Noah Caldwell, 9/2/11????????ikoni