Mar 27

If there’s one thing you’ll hear from any high school student taking an AP class (AP stands for advanced placement), it’s that the extreme amount of work is a killer. Some may argue that the entire point of an AP class is to give more work to learn more in a short span of time, but I refute this. The way I believe an AP class should be dealt with is through more learning, rather than more work.

One theme that tends to be common among AP classes is a task known as “busywork”. Busywork is code for unnecessary assignments that serve only to kill time. Busywork will never provide you with new material, and only occasionally will it improve your skills and knowledge. As classes get harder and more is expected of students, busywork becomes a more common task. Teachers may assign busywork as a way to occupy the students during excess class time, or solely as a filler when it comes to presenting said students with a letter grade.

I feel that busywork holds one of the problems with AP classes at face value – it is a waste of time. It is important to take multiple advanced classes throughout high school, but overworking yourself is always a problem. With teachers assigning excess busywork to students attempting to take many advanced classes at the same time, it stresses out the student and reduces the overall quality of their work.

Sometimes, the curse of busywork is unavoidable. No matter what you do, you’re going to end up with some busywork in your AP classes. The best approach would be to advise your teacher to lower the amount of busywork, and instead create assignments that will better your knowledge. One good way to do this is to assign review. Reviewing substance covered in class an entire semester ago will help to reinforce the roots of learning in a student’s brain.

In a class such as APES (AP Environmental Sciences), there’s a lot of material to cover throughout the year. There is not nearly enough time to learn everything in the textbook, so AP teachers may resort to rushing through the material and giving a ton of busywork as a way to teach the topics.

A major issue with busywork is that it may lead to students cheating on their assignments. If given a simple fill-in-the-blank worksheet or asked to write paragraphs for simple questions, students may resort to simply copying what another student has written, in order to save time and avoid unnecessary stress.

Here lies the biggest problem with busywork: it leads to cheating. Cheating on a simple homework assignment that accounts for a minimal percentage of your grade may not be a huge sin, but the domino effect caused by said cheating is detrimental. A good student who is crunched for time ends up copying a friend’s worksheet. That good student has never cheated before, but at this point has given up their academic integrity. Now that the student has realized how convenient it is to cheat on a small homework assignment, they may consider cheating on a test too to save time. If they cheat on a test, who knows how else they would cheat? They might plagiarize an essay next.

As described in this article, “While most students agree that cheating on tests is wrong, and most refrain from doing so, the same is not true for dishonesty on homework assignments. Many students feel that cheating on “busywork” is not morally wrong because they believe it has no effect on their knowledge of the subject or their future in the class.” With students now feeling no remorse and justification of cheating on basic homework assignments, an entire array of cheating options can now become prevalent in their peripheral vision.

It makes sense to minimize the busywork assigned to students, in order to avoid any issues with cheating or lack of integrity. Students will feel less stressed, they will feel less of a need to forge their papers, and the overall benefit is greater than the negative.

Sources

Students Weigh In On Cheating

Mar 20

We are all very aware about genetically modified food. It has become very common in our daily lives in what we consume. There are various pros and cons that come with GMOs, and the two sides of the issue have a good amount of supporters. So, the question at hand is: are GMOs beneficial? Does the usefulness of GMOs outweigh the harm they may cause? How do we know when to limit the use of GMOs?

One of the most obvious benefits of GMOs is that they can help us with the evergrowing food crisis. As the population continues to swell, food and other resources are slowly becoming more and more scarce. The issue in finding enough food to feed everyone in the world is quickly becoming a vital complication that needs our attention. One solution is using GMOs to help crops flourish. By combining the genes of two crops, you can modify it to produce more of a yield, or to grow more quickly. There is no denying that a process like this can help feed a larger population.

However, there are some clear negatives in this. Genetically modifying a crop or animal can cause toxicity issues, possibly creating carcinogens. Carcinogens lead to cancer. If you put two and two together, it becomes apparent that genetically modifying foods may have unwanted effects such as these. Does the reward outweigh the risk?

Personally, I feel that genetically modifying foods is a good idea. Yes, it may lead to issues such as cancer, but feeding a population is much more important than possibly causing a few cases of cancer. Since GMOs are a fairly recent discovery, the long-term effects of them are yet to be understood. If we decide not to use GMOs, we may never discover the true effects.

I can definitely understand why someone might be anti-GMO. Genetically Modified Organisms may be responsible for allergies, as described in this article. The article also mentions that GMOs can cause a lowered resistance to Antibiotics. This means that antibiotic medications will have less of an effect when a GMO-consumer gets sick.

In my opinion, the most beneficial aspect of Genetically Modified Food is that it is environmental friendly. As stated by the aforementioned article, “Less chemicals, time, machinery, and land are needed for GMO crops and animals, which can help reduce environmental pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil erosion. Enhanced productivity because of GMOs could allow farmers to dedicate less real estate to crops. Also, farmers are already growing corn, cotton, and potatoes without spraying the bacterial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis because the crops produce their own insecticides, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.” This myriad of positives heavily outweighs the negatives.

Aside from the environmental advantages, GMOs can also better our nutrition. By injecting different minerals and vitamins into food that otherwise would not contain them, we can enhance our nutritious intake. We can create more superfoods, and make ingesting the necessary nutrients easier for those in developing countries.

One thing cited as an issue among GMO products is the effect it could have on allergies. According to this article, 5% of children and 2% of adults in the U.S. are affected by food allergies. One of the major concerns regarding GMOs and food allergies is that it is possible GMOs may directly lead to increased rates of food allergy and adolescents. The amount of food allergies has significantly increased from 1997 to 2009, although there is no evidence that is directly related to genetically modified food consumption.

One common theme among the negatives of GMOs is that they ‘may’ have an effect on this or that. If we don’t have concrete evidence to cement GMOs as an overly negative idea, there is no chance of outweighing the pros illustrated: better for the environment, can help fix world hunger, creates better nutrition among adolescents.

Sources

GMO Food Pros and Cons

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

Feb 21

In today’s modern era of music, we often would rather listen to our playlist on our phone than to just sit in a public area and hear the elevator music. The great advancements in phone technology have enabled users to be able to store as many audio files on their phone as they would like, and to be able to take all of those songs with them wherever they go. There was a clear downside though – how would you be able to listen to your music without distracting or annoying everyone around you? Surely the people sitting next to you in the office could have a different taste in music, or maybe the person next to you on the bus has a raging headache and has no interest to jam out with you.

That’s where earbuds and headphones came in. They made it possible for users to listen to their music on the go, without distracting anyone else around them. If heard at a normal level, earbuds are not an issue to the people around you. You can listen to whatever music you want, be it soft or loud, and nobody around you would even have a clue. That’s the glory of the earbud technology.

However, something that was clearly overlooked in the beginning was the damage that earbuds can do to hearing. According to this article, 1 in 5 teenagers suffer from hearing loss due to earbud usage. That’s a lot. If you were to take a classroom of 30 kids, 6 of them have hearing loss issues. Hearing loss doesn’t sound so intense, but it truly is a prevalent issue, and we need to find a way to take care of it.

The website I previously referenced states “Noise–induced hearing loss is generally caused by two types of noise: sudden, earsplitting bursts, such as gunfire or fireworks; or ongoing exposure, such as factory noise or loud music listened to over time.” Loud music falls into the category of ‘factory noise or loud music listened to over time’. This correlation indicates that loud music heard through earbuds is directly responsible for the extreme hearing loss issues found in teenagers.

To me, these cases of hearing loss are one of the biggest current issues among teenagers. They are often bound to their phones and earbuds because they would rather engage in whatever music they like, rather than listen to whatever goes on around them. This says a lot about the social constructs of teenager society. Many teenagers would rather be in their own world than the world around them.

What can we do to fix this clear issue? There isn’t much we can do. An obvious solution is to advise teenagers about the troubles caused by earbuds. However, many would ignore this advice and continue blasting their music. Another possible solution is to wear earmuff headphones. These have less of a negative effect on hearing.

A stunning fact I found out while reading about this issue is that hearing loss doesn’t repair itself after it takes place. Hearing loss is permanent, and after we lose our ability to hear, we will never get it back. This shows that we may be signing away our hearing without even being aware of it.

From reading the article, I gathered that the method that earbuds destroy hearing consist of the earbud being put in the ear canal, which makes the audio signal too close to your inner ear. This raises the volume by nine decibels. The maximum amount of volume your ear should take is 85 decibels, showing how much of an impact earbuds can have on your hearing.

The issue of earbuds is a very big one in our society and we don’t even realize it, which makes it that much deadlier. We need to enforce the learning of the damages of earbuds in young classrooms, in order to deal with this everlasting problem.

Jan 22

We all know the drill. If you don’t do well in high school, and don’t get into a good college, you won’t be successful. We should be spending our teen years sitting locked in our room with a textbook, reading and writing and studying every waking hour of the day. Fun? What the hell is fun? Fun is just a distant memory at this point. It seems as if graduating middle school comes as a package deal with signing away your free time. The standard is that we condition ourselves to be robots…sorry, I meant scholars. The only way we’ll become entrepreneurs and engineers is if we make it out of monotonous hell in one piece. That’s the way it should be, right? Sitting at a desk with a history book and a pen, right? Not even having spare time to have dinner with your family. Not being able to go to a movie with your friends. Right? …Right?

Wrong.

We have it all wrong.

If anyone thinks for a second the way to succeed is through torture, they’re wrong. There is no reason that we should be confined to learning what we’re told to learn. What are we trying to achieve? Are we conditioning ourselves to know exactly what everyone else knows? Is the goal to be like that of your neighbor? Is the goal to have an identical thought process as everyone around you?

We often shun those who step out of line. “Why are you failing your history class, Timmy?” “Andrea, come here right now! Explain this C in math!” “John, you’ll get your phone back after you raise your grade in physics.”

Something needs to change. If you look around the average high school history class, I can guarantee you no more than 10% of the students are excited for the next two boring hours of their life. So why are we requiring them to take that history class? Why do they need to sit through years of this repetitive crap? The majority of students find the answers to the homework and tests online, and learn nothing. Either we need to find a way to make them want to take class, or stop forcing them to take the class.

These history students don’t seem to be having much fun.

The best solution I can come up with is to change the way high school works. Rather than requiring 4 years of English, 4 years of Mathematics, 3 years of History, 2 years of Science, 2 years of Foreign Language, 2 years of Physical Education, a year of Health, and a year of Art, let students take whatever class they want to take.

Let’s say 14 year old Grace wants nothing more in her life than to learn psychology and become a therapist in her future. Why does she have to take history? Is that going to do her any good? At all? I’ll answer that: it won’t. Let her take classes that will assist her in her psychology aspirations. Okay, maybe force her to take a year of history if for no other reason than to keep her from ignorance. But 3 years is too much. She doesn’t need to know about the Bessemer process. She’ll live without it.

18 year old Zach has been singing since he was 4, and now that he’s fresh out of high school with a year of physics and some calculus on his back, he’s ready to progress into a musical career. Right? Wrong. If he plans to have a singing career, why is it essential that he know trigonometry of right triangles?

If we were to treat every high school class as an elective, basically meaning that every class is optional, students would be more likely to take classes that they are interested in, and wind up successful. As mentioned in this article, students are treated as a given. They aren’t talked about as each kid having different aspirations or goals, but rather as being clones of one another.

Without even looking it up, I assume that the person in charge of choosing high schooler’s required classes is a 50+ year old man. It’s some grinch that hasn’t taken a high school class in decades. Please answer me this: why is he in charge of this? Why not someone who can empathize with the students and who knows what they really need to be taking?

In a perfect world, high school students would be required no more than a year of general education for each subject (history, science, math and english). Afterwards, they can take whatever classes would gear them towards a prosperous and successful life. That’s the way it should be.

Source

Washington Post – Why all High School Courses Should be Elective

Oct 24

Anyone who says they don’t love food is blatantly lying to themselves. The different smells, tastes, and looks of different foods give such an immaculate pleasure unlike any other. Different foods from different cultures offer different experiences that can help shape our tastebuds to tolerate various flavours, ultimately resulting in a way to bond with humans of other decent over such a simple factor: food.

 

 

These bonding experiences over food are definitely the best feature that all of these juicy flavors have to offer. However, on the contrary, there are the numerous issues correlating with food and health. As we are all very well aware, eating too much food can result in unhealthy lifestyles.

Some examples of diseases that food is known for causing include diabetes and high blood pressure. Diabetes is a disease that is not contagious, however you can become diabetic by eating too much sugar and not exercising enough. According to this article, some of the symptoms of diabetes include urinating often, feeling very thirsty, feeling very hungry, experiencing extreme fatigue, blurry vision, and cuts and bruises that heal slowly. For type 1, you lose weight even though you eat more, and for type 2, you experience tingling and numbness in your feet.

Health problems such as diabetes plague America today. They cause insane amounts of deaths, and for those who contract these diseases, they make life much harder than it already is. Unfortunately, our government and our country as a whole is taking the wrong steps towards fixing these problems. Rather than providing students with nutritious, tasty meals, they serve us fake meat, insanely high-in-sugar breakfasts, and disgusting entrees that just get thrown away, wasting a bunch of food that could be used well.

 

 

However, although there are such horrible things that result from too much food consumption or eating the wrong things, you shouldn’t limit your diet to health foods constantly. Unless you’re in the process of cutting a few pounds, you shouldn’t set too many restrictions in regards to sampling various foods and maybe having an unhealthy snack once in awhile. After all, we’re human. We aren’t meant to look skinny and weigh 100 pounds. Having meat on your bones isn’t a problem.

By all means, you shouldn’t be shy to try out different cuisines and cultures. We can educate ourselves about a race or civilization simply by tasting the foods they create in their kitchens. It’s always interesting to learn about other cultures, and what better way to do that than eat their food?

Some of my favorite foods that I recommend for you to try include: banana bread with chocolate chips, cancun chicken (a hispanic specialty), honey breaded chicken (from chinese restaurants, and my favorite of all, eating mediterranean cuisine such as fries and kabob. Although these obviously aren’t the healthiest choices, once in awhile, there are no issues with enjoying these treats.

Obesity is very prevalent in modern day america. According to this article, more than 2 out of every 3 adults are considered overweight or obese (that’s over 66%!). Something needs to be done to put a stop to these outrageous numbers, but unfortunately, with America, we have so many other problems, that focusing on something such as adult obesity hits the bottom of the barrel when it comes to issues that need to be addressed. Right now, we have to deal with terrorism, the upcoming presidential election, and what we can do to completely restore our country’s economy. After that, we can see what we need to do to help the obesity epidemic come to a halt.

Oct 12

Due to the world’s recent advances in everything related to technology, a recent topic regarding online schooling has been discussed. For the entirety of recent history, schooling has taken place (in the vast majority of situations) away from home in a separate building, known as the dreaded “School”. There are many pros and cons to the possibility of an entire school career existing online rather than on a campus with many other kids your age and experiencing the same issues as you. There isn’t the physical connection that there is with attending school, there is the larger probability of cheating occurring, and the basic experiences of elementary, middle, and high school will be lost on the subjects.

One of the most commonly discussed reasons to not incorporate a permanent online schooling system is the lack of human interaction. Along with textbook knowledge, in school you develop extensive knowledge of social interaction that you can not obtain in many other environments. Through various group activities, as well as all of the provided break times, students are able to talk, have fun, and understand how to interact with other people. This ability would be lost on online students, for a couple of reasons: there is no physical presence of the other subject, and online you have the time to respond. You can come up with an excuse such as you were not looking at your phone or your computer screen, however in real life, you have to immediately formulate a response in order to avoid awkwardness.

As discussed in this article by Caralee Adams, there are three major issues regarding online schooling – funding, policies, and tradition. If too many students from a school leave in order to pursue online classes, the school can lose huge amounts of funding, as they are provided with money from their district based on the amount of students attending classes.

Policies is also a major issue for online schooling. When someone is taking courses online, it’s not too hard to open up another browser to search up an answer on a test. Even if there is a program that ends your test as soon as you close it or swi
tch to another tab, you could always use an alternate device (for example, a phone or a tablet) in order to search up the answer. Quizzes and tests would lose all meaning to them, and therefore grading would be much more lopsided and unrealistic.

Tradition, as I previously mentioned, is a big part of why there is much hesitation to incorporate online learning. When you are sitting by a computer at home and reading articles and answering questions, there is no human teacher to guide you to the right learning procedures and to be there for you to answer questions when you need help. Yes, in theory, there could be a network of teachers available to help you at any given time that you have a question to ask, but there is also the issue of no peers to properly do group work with. It is a very commonly used practice to do projects, create posters, or even digital power presentations with fellow classmates that you know and sit around everyday in the classroom. However, when you are learning online, you don’t have any real “peers” – nobody is in the exact same environment as you, hearing the exact same information as you, and having the same teacher to refer to if you have questions or concerns. Group work would be put at a detrimental low if online learning became the norm.

If you consider all of the different advantages and disadvantages to online learning, you can see a real struggle and a good debate that emerges – is it a good idea to apply this newfound technology, but risk losing the tradition of physical schooling? Some of the advantages to online schooling would be that students don’t have to worry as much about what their peers are doing, they don’t have to wake up at insane hours just to arrive in time to school, and they can learn in whatever style works best for them. However, the disadvantages include: the inability to create a proper group work environment, the lack of social interaction development, and the lack of a real teacher to guide you through all of the major issues you may come across. Is it worth it?

Scholastic – Virtual Schooling

Sep 20

A prevalent issue in programming is reality TV – it is the trash you love to watch for its genuine drama, likability, and overall garbage yet entertaining setting. For years upon years, there have been claims of rigging when it comes to casting, playing, and winning these reality TV shows. You can never truly know the credibility of a reality TV show until you have been a part of one, and even then you may not be completely aware of what goes on behind the scenes. You don’t know if you were cast as an extra spot, or cast because of your political beliefs in order to create conflict. But that’s the glory of it all – reality TV’s unpredictability and unscripted hilarity is what makes it a part of popular culture.

Recent claims against the long term game show Big Brother have provided evidence that the newest season of the show was rigged towards the four returning contestants. In an attempt to boost the season’s ratings, they incorporated a twist in which they brought previous fan favorites back into the game, and then gave them assistance to keep them immune, such as the teams twist and the roadkill twist. With these in place, they were able to keep the veteran casualties to a minimum.

Rigging is a concept that is well known among all competitive people. Often times, after a loss, you would claim that the odds were rigged against you, making it impossible for you to win. However, in a game with a social construct such as Big Brother, rigging is much more simple than having the odds against you in a physical game such as football or soccer. When the stakes reach the point of $500,000 the joke of something being rigged against you takes a whole new form in actual lawsuit material.

A popular TV show such as Big Brother promoting the act of rigging only gives the green light for other, less popular activities to result to rigging in order to achieve a certain outcome.

The show’s two most popular seasons are it’s sixth and tenth, and they are as well-received as they are thanks to the natural drama that was sparked with the good job of casting, rather than a powerful production-made alliance taking the reins and coasting straight to finale night where a producer favorite inevitably wins the fan favorite award. A good season is comprised of three major components: power shifts, likable characters, and fights. If one consists of all three, it will more than definitely be high in ratings and popular among fans. However, when production adds a dozen twists into the game, it makes for a very boring, predictable game. Twists are a perfect example of rigging that the show employs to bring it’s producer favorites as far as possible.

Frank Eudy, a contestant of both the 14th and 18th season, received an unprecedented advantagethis season with the “teams twist”, in which he was immune from eviction for three straight weeks, solely because his “teammate” was in power. Even though the power players wanted to target Eudy, they were unable to because production added that blockade to guard him.

What these producers fail to realize is that a season can be well done, dramatic, and interesting enough if they rely on casting over rigging. Giving us a raw, garbage, hilarious season of Big Brother will boost them to where they want to be.

 

Sep 01

A much discussed issue recently has been the death penalty. Should serious criminals be put to death for their crimes? Do they deserve their life to end because they ended the life of someone else? The topic has strong arguments for both sides, however, eventually, there will need to be a consensus for whether or not the death penalty should be applied. I personally support the existence of the death penalty, as committing such a horrible crime as murder should be properly penalized.

David B Mulhausen suggests that the death penalty is necessary for serial killers or others of major criminal background, as putting them to death will help save other lives. Criminals can be very unpredictable, and you never know when they are planning on committing a murder or a rape or anything of the sort. Mulhausen provided an extensive amount of proof and examples of why the death penalty is a beneficial idea, and he went in depth of various crimes that should deserve death for their actions.

However, the death penalty should not be utilized in a wild and common manner. It should be reserved for those who commit fatal crimes of hate, and all those who are punished should be thoroughly tried before conviction. Putting someone to death who may be innocent would be a travesty, and completely unfair. The government should never be quick to provide a lethal injection, as it could take a long span of time to truly identify the culprit behind a case. As much investigation should be done as humanly possible before the death penalty is set into effect.

Earl Ringo’s double murder is a good example of an acceptable death penalty. Absolutely ruthless crimes with clear motivations do not deserve the benefit of the doubt, especially when a history of previous crimes associated with the suspect are in existence.

In summary, the death penalty is an effective way to reduce crime rates, and a form of justice that is served for those who are victims in murder cases.

Source

Death Penalty Saves Lives

 

 

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