Growth Mindset

“Not Yet” is an idea introduced to me via Ted Talk. Assumption to me, is not a school that largely values a growth mindset.

While we do offer a variety of electives and have so many different clubs, the image of how the public sees AHS, is what administrator mostly focuses on. They base success solely off their students test scores and letter grades.

I think we should focus more on progress, how far the student has come, because not everyone is going to be at the same place. All people learn differently, and some extremely differently. The “listen to a teacher talk and learn it all” doesn’t work for visual learners, and group projects don’t work for those who need to have things thoroughly explained to them.

 

 

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Review of “A Lesson Before Dying”

A Lesson Before Dying.”  Ernest J. Gaines. Alfred A. Knopf. 1993.

Capitol punishment has been a controversial issue since it has existed. Some believe that we don’t have the right to kill another, others think these people sentenced to death don’t deserve to live. People see them as nothing, less than human. These prisoners are judged on one decision they made in their life, and possibly might lose their life, because of it.

This book is about the personal and families process of someone going through the process of being convicted, on death row, and ends with the execution date of Jefferson being set, after being found guilty for a crime he didn’t commit. Capital punishment is the main issue of the book, but it also focuses a lot on self-worth. This book helped me to understand more about how it affects the family, and how it takes a toll on the mental state and self-view of the accused.

I recommend the novel, “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines because of its character development and focus on the political and moral issue of capital punishment, despite an abrupt and frustrating conclusion.

The characters grow drastically through out the entire book especially the main character, Jefferson. In the beginning, he was just an undereducated man in the wrong place at the wrong time, but by the end, he sees value in himself and knows the worth he has as a man. During the trial, to get him proven as not guilty, his attorney compares him to a hog. “What justice would there be to take this life? Justice, gentlemen? Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this.” (24)  His attorney implies it would be cruel to kill a man with no more intelligent hog. This sticks with Jefferson. Through out the first few days of his imprisonment, he will not speak to anyone or eat. When people showed up to talk to him, he would rudely dismiss them. Grant, a friend of Jefferson’s mother who comes to talk to him in prison, also a teacher, brings Jefferson some food at one point, and Jefferson proceeded to stick his face in it and messily eat it, “like a hog.” But after working with Grant, Jefferson finally sees though what people have said to him.

“Good by mr wigin tell them im strong tell them im a man” (218) Jefferson writes this in his diary, to Grant. It shows his growth and that he knows how his life and death means to his family. Jefferson writes his last words to the man who helped him change from living a life barley living, to after the trial and just living in anger, and now he thoughtful and courageous. He filled his diary notes for Grant, saying how it takes a man to show affection. This shows how Jefferson grew into a true man before his set execution date.

The issue of Capital punishment has long been relevant in our world today, and this book focuses on both sides of that. You see it in the beginning from the Jurors prospective, of course with influence from the time this was set it. It was a much more common thing 50 years ago to talk down on people simply because of their skin tone. The jurors talk about how the case is simple, Jefferson and two others rob a liquor store, and it goes wrong leaving only Jefferson standing, they don’t believe he was truly in the wrong place at the wrong time, and then because of his lack of education and experience, wasn’t sure how to respond after the shootings. “I want you to show them the difference between what they think you are and what you can be.” (79) Grant says this to Jefferson, and it’s the turning point for him. Jefferson starts to see after this, that no matter what people say, he has worth, dignity, and he is a man. He knows he is not just the mistake he is being labeled for.

His execution is a big deal for not only his family, but his community and families to come. Those families who disagreed with the sentencing, use this as their “last straw” and many start to speak out about the injustice and racism in the courts. His story will carry on through his towns history because he took an unfair situation and made the best and most positive impact in his last few weeks.

The down side I saw to this novel was the realistic, yet abrupt ending. Through out the whole novel you see the growth of Jefferson, and it leads you to believe that it will some how work out differently that it did. Also, the entire novel is very in depth and descriptive, and then the last chapter wraps everything up very suddenly and it leaves the reader with unanswered questions.

Despite the abrupt and aggravating ending, I recommend the novel, “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines because of its character development and focus on the political and moral issue of capital punishment.

Family

I believe family is where you come from…

I am from a broken family of 5
From polar-opposite parents, who balanced each other out
I am from summer swim meets and ice cream runs
From bike rides and neighborhood walks.
I am from snow, skiing, and the mountains
From the forests of rural Kentucky
I am from laughter, pain, trauma, and love
From a life of service and helping others
I am from “be who you want to be, but make sure that person is the best.”
From “never forget I love you”
I am from stargazing, cloud watching and dreams
From not even seeing the sky as the limit
I am from chefs and photographers
From computer nerds and mood swings
I am from compassion and empathy
From putting the needs of others first
I am from sadness and loss
From never feeling I was adequate
I am from a family though, who never lets me forget, I am enough

 

Dreams

Life with out dreams would be… hopeless. There would be no strive for the unthinkable. No child from an unfortunate background, would ever even attempt to break out, if they had no dreams. I dream people will one day, treat all others equally and with justice. I dream that every human will one day have the nourishment, love, and shelter that they need, and have it all days of their life.

Reality is, that will not happen. So we must take it into our own hands, and make that our goal, no longer just a dream. A world with out dreams would be a world with no further movement, no new creations.

Dreams and ideas should be the sole of your thoughts, but not the entirety of your mind.  Living in your dreams will accomplish nothing, and they will always continue to just be dreams. But if you don’t sometimes just let go, relax, and follow a dream, you aren’t being the real you. You aren’t living a happy and relaxed life…. What are your dreams?

A Lesson Before Dying 3

I over all really liked this book. It focused on how truly important it is to have self worth, and the dignity that everyone deserves. It talks about redemption in death, and how you can’t escape the past, but can make the best of your situation.

It was heart breaking hearing how the words of the Jurors effected Jefferson, but in the end Grant was finally able to help him see that he is a person, a man. The prison staff also started to show him affection by allowing him a radio, a notebook, and to visit with his family in the day room.

Seeing that Jefferson was finally able to come to terms with, and accept himself was a really good plot line. He went from the accused man who wouldn’t talk and rummaged through his food like a pig, to someone who was openly showing his emotions and connecting with others, and as he writes in his journal, he finally sees worth in himself and his humanity.

A lesson Before Dying 2

It makes me mad that Jefferson never even got a fair trial, and the way he is being treated even now, outside court by powerful officials of his town.

It was so sad to hear the way the “powerful” white people spoke about blacks, the superintendent constantly making racist remarks to the kids, and the sheriff referring to Jefferson as a “hog” and saying he sees no use in changing that before he dies.

When Grant goes to visit Jefferson, he asks if hes hungry, Jefferson responded with, “do you have any corn? hogs eat corn.” After this, he goes to drink and see Vivian, and tries to leave town again. She again refuses and says that Grant loves the people in town, more than he hates the South, and that’s why he cant leave. I personally felt that, because i’m going away for college. I get so confused when i find myself scared of sad about leaving. Because as much as i want to get away, this has always been my home, there’s so much I know I will miss.

Grant says about his life, that he is “running in place, unable to accept what used to be my life, unable to leave it.” That connected with me because I know that is exactly how i feel sometimes, not happy but not sad enough to lose it.