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The Veil and the West

February 21, 2019

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When it comes to Women in Islam much has been written about their dress, hijab, veils and burqas. Katherine Bullock and Asma Barlas are examples of such examiners; these two women investigated the veil and western politics of the body. Katherine Bullock observes veiling in her book “Rethinking Muslim women and the veil” by critically examining western media’s representation and perceptions of the veil.Read More »

Heart of Darkness

February 21, 2019

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Heart of Darkness

            The novella by Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, deals with many issues.  Many critics like to point out that the theme of the story is about light versus dark.  Some like to say that this story is more about racism while others insist that it is indeed about imperialism and the author’s view (as manifested though the persona of Marlow) concerning this issue.  As such, the main focus on this issue will be on the relevance of racial issues within the story, how this affects the views of the main character, Marlow, and how this mirrors the teachings of Charles Darwin and his theories on Social Darwinism.

            To arrive at a better understanding of this point, it is important to first provide a brief insight into the situation the world, Africa, and Joseph Conrad was in during the time that he wrote this novella for it will provide the reader with an insight concerning the influences and societal ways of thinking in that given era.

            Joseph Conrad was briefly assigned in the Belgian Congo in 1890.  It was during this stretch in his life that he became influenced to do most of his writings including this novella, Heart of Darkness.  This story shows the shock, physically and psychologically, that Conrad experienced in his life during his assignment in Africa.

            In the early passages of the story Heart of Darkness, Conrad already begins to show his shock at the situation during that time.  When Marlow narrates his view of the six Africans walking in single file each with a single iron collar around his neck, we begin to see the inhuman treatment of natives by the colonizers.  In this passage (page 81 signet classic), the subjugation of the natives is clearly viewed in the painting of the images used by Conrad showing us an image of several slaves walking with iron collars around their necks and so malnourished that their ribs are sticking out, walking in what Conrad described as a “deathlike indifference of unhappy savages”, while a single white man with a rifle held them all in row.  Marlow then begins to say how he could not call these men enemies by any stretch of the imagination.  Through this single passage, Conrad through Marlow, is able to convey to the reader his initial shock and dismay at the situation of the colonies in Africa and how the white man came to conquer and not to civilize for the actions of the colonizers were in themselves more barbaric than the ways of the natives.

            As we progress through the story we begin to encounter more and more of the dark images that Marlow narrates to us.

“Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth, half coming out, half effaced within the dim light, in all the attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despair. Another mine on the cliff went off, followed by a slight shudder of the soil under my feet. The work was going on. The work! And this was the place where some of the helpers had withdrawn to die.”

This passage, as told by Marlow, again reveals the shock of Conrad at the inhumanity of the treatment by the colonizers of the natives.  The natives were treated like mere work animals.  The colonizers had somehow lost track of their mission to civilize instead it became that they came to conquer, to rape the land, to remove whatever humanity the people had left in them.  This passage is told by Marlow in certain darkness with only certain glimpses of light which create the atmosphere in which he reveals his disbelief at the reality of the situation of the colonizers in the African continent.  As Marlow proceeds to describe what he sees in all its bold horror, we also see his compassion towards the African natives.  He once again refuses to refer to them as neither criminals nor enemies.  The dehumanization is what appalls Marlow.  He begins to describe these people as only bearing semblance to some form of humanity, not in physical shape for what was left of them barely had semblance of human form, but instead the flicker of life left in them.

            Towards the end of this passage, Marlow once again creates a sort of puzzling symbolism when he narrates and begins to describe his vision of a young man he offers biscuits to.  He tells the reader of this white worsted tied around the neck of this young man.  White choking black, “startling” as Marlow describes it. “round his black neck, this  bit of white thread from beyond the seas.”  A clear interpretation of this passage reveals once again his indifference towards colonialism.  The white thread choking the African resembling the way the colonialists have treated the natives, white against black.

            This compassion of Marlow for the natives raises a few questions however.  Why did Marlow feel compassion when his fellows did not?  Why did he not succumb to the human condition of greed as the others on that continent did?

            Professor Lionel Trilling notes this and tries to explain it.  He begins to answer these questions by placing an emphasis on the appeal of a so called uncivilized life to the over civilized modern man.  Professor Trilling also exerts that the beauty of the primitive life is because it is just so ugly.  The landscapes described in Heart of Darkness are awesomely grotesque but somehow draw the reader into it as light is drawn in the darkness of a black hole.  Marlow is then drawn into this darkness of Africa thrilled and amazed by it and develops a certain compassion for the land and its natural inhabitants.

            In comparison to the theories of Darwin, “”The following proposition seems to me in a high degree probable- namely, that any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts, the parental and filial affections being here included, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well, or nearly as well developed, as in man. For, firstly, the social instincts lead an animal to take pleasure in the society of its fellows, to feel a certain amount of sympathy with them, and to perform various services for them.[1]”  It is clear from this passage that Darwin clearly shares a common thought with Joseph Conrad, both of them agreeing that there was no need for man to subjugate each other.  Darwin did not share the racism common at that time. He was strongly against slavery, against “ranking the so-called races of man as distinct species”, and against ill-treatment of native people (Wilkins 2008, pp. 408–413).

            Upon his journey to the station of Mr. Kurtz, Marlow and his crew are attacked by natives.  In this part of the story we can also see the indifference of Marlow towards the situation.  As he hears the voices covered by the fog, he states that he hears no aggression, instead what he hears is the voice of people trying to protect themselves before he cut of by the sound of the pilgrims firing their Winchesters into the fog.  Once again, Marlow reveals his indifference (which leans a bit towards compassion) for the natives.  He does not see the natives as much as a threat as his other companions do, though some state that this was caused by his anticipation and dismay at being able to meet the famous Mr. Kurtz and at the realization that Mr. Kurtz might be dead.  Nevertheless, Marlow is not as agitated by the attack of the natives as compared to his companions were by it.

            As we encounter more passages, we see Marlow’s reaction towards Africa and the situation there and also his growing amazement at the heart of darkness there.  This is only one side of it however, because as I mentioned earlier Marlow did not only not condone imperialism and its effects on humanity but he, to a certain extent, also licensed it.

            In the part wherein Marlow begins to speak of the report made by Mr. Kurtz, Marlow shows his admiration for the writing and the content of the report made by Mr. Kurtz.  Marlow described the report as eloquent and simply a beautiful piece of writing.  Marlow was totally swayed by the words or Kurtz when Kurtz began saying that the natives must be approached as deities approach their followers.  The western civilization must descend upon theses savages as supernatural beings.  Through this we can also interpret that Conrad really viewed the white race as superior and did not totally condemn its acts of imperialism disguised by an act of trying to civilize the uncivilized.  As Marlow continues with his praise of Mr. Kurtz’s work, he is once again drawn into the text and appealed to the end, “Exterminate all the brutes!”.  Here once again is the indifference towards Imperialism showing no condemning but also no promotion of the act.

            The character of Mr. Kurtz is a clear symbol of the message that Conrad wants to say.  Mr. Kurtz is clearly an allegory of some sort, symbolizing the western man who has come to Africa to colonize and is transformed by the heart of darkness into the same.  Similar to the teachings of Darwin on Social Change, we can see through the conversations between the different characters the brilliance of the character of Mr. Kurtz, and alas, also the madness that consumed him in the end, the horror of it all.  Mr. Kurtz in his brilliance manifested all the light and superiority that western civilization embodied.  He was its efficiency, its progress yet at the same time in the character of Mr. Kurtz we see the darkness of the west.  Driven to madness in the Heart of Africa, Mr. Kurtz was the west gone mad and run amok in the wilderness.

Bibliography:

Achebe, Chinua. “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.” In Heart     of Darkness: An Authoritative Text, Background and Sources, Criticism, 3rd ed. Edited by Robert Kimbrough. NY: W.W. Norton, 1988, 251-262.

Batchelor, John. The Life Of Joseph Conrad; A Critical Biography. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994

Flieshman, Avrom. Conrad’s Politics: Community and Anarchy in the Fiction of Jospeh Conrad. The John’s Hopkins Press, Baltimore Maryland, 1967

Karl, Frederick. A reader’s Guide to Joseph Conrad. The Noonday Press. New York. 1960

Internet Sources:

www.goucher.edu/library/seagle105.htmlp

www.stfrancis.edu/eu/student/kurtzweb/darkness.htm

www.thenation.com/issue/000710/0710north.shtml

www.westerncanon.com/cgibing/lecture/JosephConradhall/cas/48.htmlp

www.wsu.edu.8080/~wldciv/world_civ_reader/world_civ_reader/conrad.htm

www.wwwnorton.com/college/english/nce/heart.htm

[1] Descent of Man, chapter 4 ISBN 1-57392-176-9

Three Important Thing in My Life

February 20, 2019

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Good afternoon to Miss Nana and my fellow friends. What is the most important thing in my life? I just wanted to ask your friends what you think is the most important thing in your life. What would you not want to miss in your life, what makes your life special? I would say watch, wallet and money, because Watch is actually a watch that allows us to be updated with the times, “Time is gold”. Time is the most precious thing in life. It affects every single moment and everything we do.Read More »

Decision Making Case Study

February 20, 2019

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Noonan (2009), states “The rising rates of unemployment and the growing numbers of uninsured people are exacerbating health disparities in low income and minority communities that already suffer from barriers to care and high rates of chronic disease. ” (para. 1). With the economy in its current state (trying to recover from the financial crisis of 2008) many programs have been affected not only on a national level, but on a state level as well.
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Hearing loss

February 20, 2019

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Dear Sir / Madam,

Greetings!

I’m Cathleen, an agent of Edzianellie Institution, is hereby asking you permission to allow my client to work in your company.  His name is Mr. Chris Rocher.  As her advocate, I conducted a comprehensive assessment of his past and present health history in order for this application to be valid.  Mr. Rocher is an successful, award winning middle school teacher in a state university, he is currently completing working on his doctoral dissertations in technology, literacy and education.  He is also worked as a rural school district teacher in Washington D.C. and New York City fro more than 20 years.

The opportunity presented in this listing is very interesting, and I believe that my clients strong contractual experience and education will make him a very competitive candidate for the position in your company. The key strengths that my client possesses for success in the position include:

·         He has developed enough experiences and skills in this unit to be able to work very well in your institution.

·         He strives for continued excellence not just for him self but as well as each and every one in the company.

·         He is very excellent in organizational skills.

·         My client also very outstanding in composing letters, writing papers and word processing activities

Last April 9, 2008, he had a vehicular accident which causing him to be detained in the hospital for many months.  The physician diagnosed Mr. Rocher of having Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  He undergoes rehabilitation routine as a compulsory action for this diagnosis.  Due to the traumatic injury in the brain, some of its nerves has been damaged.  And one of the nerve damage that is dominating is hearing loss.

To explain further the cause of hearing loss, the details is discuss on the following.  Since the Mr. Rocher had an Traumatic Brain Injury, some of its cranial nerves has been damaged specifically the Temporal Lobe of the brain which house the Auditory Nerve or what we called as Cranial Nerve VIII.  As a result of a trauma, external bleeding in the ear canal, damage to the middle ear includes the cochlear injury or temporal lobe lesions which cause dysfunctions in hearing of Mr. Rocher.

On the normal physiology of the hearing, first the sound enters through the external auditory canal which causes the tympanic membrane to vibrate.  This vibrations causes the vibration of the threes ossicles of the middle ear (Malleus, Incus, Stapes), and by this mechanical linkage the force of vibration is amplified and transferred to the oval window.  The vibrations in the stapes, which is seated in the oval window, produce waves in the perilymph of the cochlear.  The two scalae can be thought of as a continuous U shaped tube, with the oval window at the other end of the scala tympani.  The vibrations of the stapes in the oval window cause movement of the perilymph, which pushes against the membrane covering the round window.  These fluid waves cause movement of the basilar membrane to occur that then stimulates the hair cells in the organ of Corti in the cochlea to move in a wavelike manner.  The movement of the tympanic membrane set up electrical currents that stimulate the various areas of the cochlea.  The hair cells set up neural impulses that are encoded and then transferred to the auditory cortex in the brain, where they are decoded into a sound message.  In case of Mr. Rocher, since he has abnormalities as a result of the trauma, bleeding or damaged in either or both in the cochlea or temporal lobe can impede the sound signal to the brain that can be result of having hearing loss.

Hearing loss or hearing problem can be acquired if the client is exposed to noisy environment for a longer period of time like of the airports, factories etc.  Hearing problem also occurs in a sudden occurrence of an event like of blasting of a bomb, a gun shot sounds, etc.  In case of Mr. Rocher, he acquires his problem through trauma in the brain which related in the damage in the Auditory nerve causing also hearing loss.

As I observe Mr. Rochester, he tends to understand more of his colleagues of the same sex rather than of the opposite sex.  This occurrence is brought by his “pride.”  Men having this kind of disability happen in sudden action tend to be denial.  At these stage men denies that he is having the disability.  He is more of comfortable to communicate on the same sex rather than in the opposite sex because he may find it insulting yet pathetic on his part.  And as men, he doesn’t want it on that way.  But then as time progresses, he now tries to communicate to his opposite because it is a compulsory to his work.

As his advocate, Mr. Rocher, my client, is very good in everything, he is very excellent in composing letters, writers papers and any word activities.  Aside from this his is very punctual to his work.  Mr. Rocher, a very good candidate for the position in your company.  He may have a disability but he is very useful to your company.

Since his forte is writing skills, I recommend him to work in your company as a writer on the magazine, or in a contractual in a company.  He may also be put I the HR department in your company to entertain and responds to the emails, letters and problems of the employee and employer of the company.  He may also be part of the company’s adviser in all products or problems taken place in the company.

Here are some of the websites that can be helpful in working with employees having the disabilities.  For more information in the employment of an employee having the disability just click on he following websites:

·         http://deafness.about.com/od/employmentandworking/a/employers.htm

·         http://www.abletrust.org/fbln/_doc/DisabilityHiringGuide.pdf

I can be reached anytime via my cell phone, (0915) 547 – 1783,if my client is meets the company requirement.  Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about my client for this employment opportunity to him.

Sincerely,

Cathleen Reyes

Edzianellie Institution

 

Hear O Ye Who Live Secure

February 20, 2019

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Hear O Ye Who Live Secure

Accompanying the preface of Survival in Auschwitz, Levi’s poem “Shema” calls everybody that lives a secure life to hear the poet well.  The Hebrew word, ‘Shema,’ means ‘Listen (Guiliani 73).’  Those that listen to the poet but do not remember his words or convey them to their children are cursed by the poet.  According to Patruno, the poet uses the Shema, a prayer known to and read by all Jews because he is insecure about his Jewish identity.  The Bible had referred to the Jews as the favorites of God.  The fact that Levi was severely punished by the Germans for being Jewish is an “assault to his dignity (Patruno 45).”  Levi is uncomfortable “about his spiritual identity,” according to Patruno (45).  Incarceration may have led him to believe that there is something wrong with being Jewish.  At the same time, however, it is clear to the reader that Levi would like to assert his Jewish identity with the belief that there is nothing wrong with being Jewish.  After all, in the hearts and minds of those that have faith in the Bible there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the warnings of God seriously.

     In fact, Levi’s poem, “Shema,” which is “untitled as epigraph” in Suvival in Auschwitz, is an echo of the most important prayer known to Jews (Boone).  This original prayer may be found in the Bible’s Deuteronomy 6:5:9.  It begins with the following words: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One (Boone).”  All Christians are aware that this is among the most important lines, if not the most significant line in the Old Testament.  Regardless of who wrote the Bible’s Deuteronomy, the fact remains that only God or a prophet of God has the right to speak such words in the context of the Bible.  Boone writes that Levi did not see himself as a prophet when he wrote “Shema,” although the poet could not have denied his vocation.  Perhaps the poet was only regurgitating the Shema prayer of the Bible in his own way when he wrote the epigraph of his book.  He would not have written Suvival in Auschwitz if he had only wished to read the scriptures.  Writers and poets feel the need to write.  It may be that Levi and his fellow Jews were reading the Shema of the Bible so often in Auschwitz that it was but natural for the poet to paraphrase it in his own way to start off his book, Suvival in Auschwitz.  Perhaps Levi had wanted his writings to be among the most important lessons for generations to come.  Undoubtedly, Levi’s story about Auschwitz remains with us today.  Although many Jews have described Auschwitz, Levi’s writings continue to be considered as essential to our understanding of the atrocities that the Jews experienced at the hands of Christian Nazis.

     Unlike Deuteronomy 6:5:9, Levi’s poem, “Shema” is addressed to all those that are living securely, regardless of whether they are Israelites, Christians, Muslims, Americans, Africans or others.  Boone mentions that even Moses’ poem in Deuteronomy 32, another poem that Levi’s “Shema” seems to echo, is not meant for everybody except the Israelites.  Moses’ poem is for the Israelites to keep “the harsh memory of the desert soujourn” in the forefronts of their minds (Boone).  But, Levi would like all those that live in security to remember the atrocities committed by the Nazis.  Unlike Moses, Levi does not want people to remember how God helped the Jews.  Rather, he wants his readers to remember that those that lived in security did not bother to help him and his fellow Jews at their time of need.  Even God did not come to their aid as soon as they were taken to Auschwitz.  Even so, with an echo of holy words of the Bible, Levi’s “Shema” reminds the reader that the Jews did not give up on God during their time of severity.

     Levi asks the readers of his poem, “Shema,” to read it at least twice each day.  If they do not obey this command, the poet’s curses are on the readers.  He would like all readers that live in security to take responsibility for what happened to the Jews in Auschwitz.  If it happens to the Jews or another race ever again, the readers of Levi’s “Shema” are expected to stand for the human rights of oppressed people.  According to Boone:

         Speaking to the Germans Levi also implicates the reader in the crime, or at least in the

    criminality of turning a deaf ear, and in the responsibility for ongoing witness. Toward the end

    of his life, he saw reflection on the Holocaust traveling along convenient and non-threatening

    avenues, in the direction of fully digested fact. With heroic patience he set out to show us what

    was happening, to be a “nagging presence,” to hold up a mirror and with some sympathy and

    understanding help us to see the unfolding process of distortion and self-serving deception. He

    wanted to establish the unalterable nature of the Lager experience, the enormity of the offense,

    and its connection to our humanity.

         The prisoners themselves felt shame, felt implicated, not because they had actively

    participated in the crimes, but because they saw the nature of the crime, and because such

    absolute and irreversible injury had been inflicted by other human beings. They were

    implicated by virtue of their knowledge, and through a common humanity. “For this reason, it

    is everyone’s duty to reflect on what happened (Boone).”

Levi may have believed that the memory he is asking his readers to keep in the forefronts of their minds may not help oppressed people in future in their time of need.  After all, oppression may be described as a sun that never seems to set.  It happens around the world almost all of the time.  According to Levi’s “Shema,” knowing about oppression is to be enlightened.  By keeping oppression in the forefronts of our minds, we are expected to remember the kinds of crimes that humanity is capable of committing.  Levi’s “Shema” makes mention of the fact that it is possible for human beings to dehumanize other human beings.  The poet asks his readers living in security to consider whether oppressed people in Auschwitz are real men and women.  Once again, the reader must hark back to the Bible to understand what a real man or woman is.  It is not enough to consider a philosopher’s definition of human nature.  The fact that Levi’s “Shema” echoes the Deuteronomy’s Shema makes it clear that Levi would have his readers understand human beings through the eyes of God.  Thus, Levi’s poem, “Shema” asks whether the oppressed people, too, are made in the image of God.  If they are made in the image of God, they must be respected.  If we cannot help them, the least we can do is to respect them.  What is more, if we cannot help them, according to the tone set by Levi’s poem, “Shema,” the worst we can do is to refuse to curse the oppressors.

     Levi believes that it is oppression itself to refuse to take responsibility for the suffering of other human beings.  The best we can do, if we cannot help them directly, is to pray for them.  Deuteronomy’s Shema is a prayer, after all.  What is more, Levi, in his poem, “Shema,” would like his readers to be clear about the differences between human beings and dehumanized human beings, the oppressed and those that simply believe that they have no way to help the oppressed.  In the Old Testament there are countless stories of oppression and God’s help for the oppressed.  The Lord of Israel and His prophets also curse the oppressors in such stories.  Levi obviously believes that the scriptures are true.  It is for this reason that he reminds his readers of faith and religion through his poem, “Shema.”  Regardless of whether his curses at the end of the poem are taken seriously or not by his readers, Levi believes in the power of prayers and curses.  Furthermore, he believes that mankind is responsible for calling on God for help in the face of oppression.  Although God is aware of everything that goes on, Levi would like all his readers living in security to behave as they truly are, that is, images of God on earth.  If Hitler had the power to humiliate and kill millions of Jews, another human being may rise to save the oppressed at their time of need.  In this way, Levi’s provocative curses toward the end of his poem, “Shema,” are meant to arouse hope in humanity.

Works Cited

Boone, Susan L. “Unvarnished Truth: The Chemistry of Shame in Primo Levi.” Judaism (Winter

1999). 26 Nov 2008.

<http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0411/is_1_48/ai_64688887/pg_1>.

Guiliani, Massimo. A Centaur in Auschwitz. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2003.

Levi, Primo. Suvival in Auschwitz. New York: Touchstone Books, 1996.

Patruno, Nicholas. Understanding Primo Levi. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina

             Press, 1995.

 

A Day to Remember

February 20, 2019

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Life gives a person too much to remember. But each one of us has a memory that stays firmly in our heart. Now, I want to tell about a moment that I always remember until today. I can still remember the day it like it was yesterday. The morning sun shone brightly on my eyelids. I rolled on to the right side of my bed. Wondering about the time, I stretched my arm to grasp a round alarm clock that used to woke me up every morning. I forced my eyes to wide open, focused them on the ugly round clock’s numbers and I knew I was late to go to school.Read More »

Classical view of work

February 20, 2019

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The statement in question is highlighting arears pertaining to the classical view of work. In this essay i will be discussing the different alternatives of viewing work and how meaningful work, together with employers and their employees, can rather be achieved through mutual cooperation. Classical View Joseph Desjardins states that there are three definitions which explain the meaning of work. Those are a job, career and a calling. (Desjardins,J. 009).Read More »

Neuro-Ophthalmic Manifestations of Head Trauma-A Critical Review

February 20, 2019

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Neuro-Ophthalmic Manifestations of Head Trauma-A Critical Review

            This research article, named, Neuro-Ophthalmic Manifestations of Head Trauma was written by Van Stevern, Gregory P. MD, Biousse, Valerie MD, Lynn, Michael J. MS, Simon, Deborah J. MD, Newman and Nancy J. MD. It was published in the Volume 21 of Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology, on June 2nd, 2001, covering pages 112 to 117.

            It is a proven concept that the head injury, most frequently leads to the neuro-ophthalmic defects, but a very little work has been done yet to precisely describe the frequency of various  defects that occurs in different groups of patients suffering from the head injuries. This study basically covers this aspect. It includes in it the evaluation of data collected from the Evary University. After careful history and examination, and observing the damages resulting from head injury in these patients, different charts were developed. These charts describe the percentage of patients according to the causes of their head trauma, any associated findings and the frequency of the neuro-ophthalmic deficits; including the afferent and efferent pathway deficits.

            The study results suggest that the indirect traumatic optic neuropathy should not be missed in the patients with severe head trauma. Traumatic chiasmal injury showed a very low frequency. The retrichiasmal visual field defects showed a relatively higher incidence. The trochlear nerve also showed a relatively higher frequency of damage. Likewise, convergence insufficiency was found to occur in a large number of these observed patients. Besides the above mentioned results, the results explained that the loss of consciousness shows a relative severe head injury, but does not depict any specific type of neuro-ophthalmic disorder to occur. However, a definite relationship between an intracranial hemorrhage and unilateral occulomotor palsy was shown. Similarly, the skull fractures showed a relevance with the abducens nerve palsy. But it is also described in the end that, about one-third of the observed patients were found to have normal neuro-imaging, yet having certain neuro-ophthalmic findings. So, having a normal neuro-imaging does not rule out the presence of neuro-ophthalmic abnormalities.

            After reviewing this research article, we can say that it is a well researched study, covering a good aspect in the field of head injuries. Describing the relationship between frequency of a disorder and the type of injury makes it easier to reach an early diagnosis of complications and providing better treatment to the patient. Although, the results do not appear to exactly pin point the occurrence of a particular neuro-ophthalmic disorder, for a certain type of head injury, yet they do give a gross idea about it.

Head Start Math and Science

February 20, 2019

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In the 1960s, the government started a number of schemes to benefit poverty stricken people. One of these projects was Head Start, aimed at children from low-income families. Project Head Start was initiated by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, on the recommendations of a committee report. The committee had been initially set up to chalk out community programs to address the needs of pre-school children among low-income families. Head Start is focused on children between three and five years. The Head Start program had over 900,000 children enrolled with it in 2004 at a cost of $6.8 billion (US GAO, 2005). About 13% of the enrolled children were those having speech difficulties, mentally retarded or children with other disabilities. Having been around for over three decades, the impact of the program on the lives of the children has been immense.

The programs were also found to inculcate moral and personal values in the individual, like positive attitude and motivation; and was also found to be strongly associated with reduction in teenage pregnancy and higher employment rates. (Berrueta-Clement et al., 1984). Although Head Start contributed to the early development of children, it was also evident that American children were much behind their counterpart in many countries like Japan, in science and mathematics. It was also seen that this short coming remained with them even beyond their primary schooling, with many being unsuccessful or dropping out of science relevant courses. The low levels of mathematics and science success among the children was a big concern for the administrators, public and parents.

A 2003 HHS report on Head Start revealed that Head Start children are not sufficiently prepared for school, compared to an average American child. Although the difference between a Head Start Child and the typical American child is insignificant in terms of social skills and other main school readiness factors, Head Start children lagged behind in factors associated with future school success. The report highlighted that these children from low-income families performed much below than others in reading and mathematics, on entering school. In mathematics, it was observed that children entered with 21% and subsequently increased it by 2%, which was too below the national averages (USHHS, 2003). The report also suggested that better outcomes can be achieved with Head Start by identifying the skills and abilities required in each domain.

The Head Start on Science and Communication (HSSC) is a program for young children directed at strategic science learning. The program is a result of four years of research and aims to inculcate inquiry based learning on physical science, life and earth science among young children. The HSSC was originally formed to bring parents and teachers to promote immediate and future success in science. The program also intends to promote age associated abilities for science related observation, prediction, investigations and making conclusions. Here children observed problems, understood and related facts, sequenced or categorized information through collaborative learning, group working and interaction with teachers. Instead of the typical yes/no option, teachers began asking more open ended questions with various levels of difficulties. The positive outcomes of the program included positive changes in the teachers’ teaching strategies. A study of 85 students of the first grade who answered 58% of factual questions and 15% experimental questions correctly before the program scored 96% and 92% respectively, after the program. As they learn and understand science concepts, their ability to answer questions too increases along with their cognitive skill levels.  The HSSC has been implemented using the Adaptive Learning Environment Model (ACEM), which attempts to unify exploratory and explicit learning to compliment individual abilities and short comings (Wang, 1992).   The program has incorporated the recommendations of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), which include providing suitable opportunities for children to carry out meaningful tasks which they can succeed most of the time. NAEYC also suggest sustaining of children’s initiative, active exploration and coordination with others by providing appropriate environment  Classrooms should also serve as caring communities, guiding children to establish good relationships with children and grown ups.  Research with Head Start program has provided evidence that a child’s academic achievement is substantially linked to parents’ involvement with their children’s education. The family mathematics and science program facilitates joint classes for both parents and children in science activities and mathematics problem solving (Klein, 2000).  Such programs involving parents showed encouraging results in their child’s educational achievement.

The process of learning is more successful when children are fully involved with the subject or topic of their learning. This is all the more important when teaching science. Life sciences involving plants and animals; and non-living things are real and can be felt. Experiencing the reality through interaction, makes science not only more interesting, but also easier to understand. Mathematics on the other hand involves a bit more abstract level. Yet, the symbols, signs and figures associated with mathematics with which children work, are self-created reality. In their effort to learn science and mathematics, children proceed further into the subjects, than just at the surface or base encounter. They analyze and interpret the object of focus and attempt to understand ‘how it works’, ‘why its required’ etc. Thus the child begins to develop reasoning for the facts it sees or understands. It may be the development of a new concept, or altering a previously thought concept, or even rejecting an assumption held till then. The teacher who wants to interestingly engage children in learning science and mathematics must personally sense excitement in learning so as to share it with the children. The teacher should approach the topic of learning and the query asking children in a balanced and parallel manner. The teacher must be sensitive to the requirements of the children and help them to see relationships and understand explanations. For teachers to be proficient and confident in their teaching, it is essential that they understand the triple interactions involved in learning. The teacher must be conscious that while the child is interacting with him or her, the child is also simultaneously interacting with the focused subject. The focused subject or subject matter interacts with both the teacher and the child; while the teacher also interacts with the querying children and the focused subject.

It is important to know the development of a child’s understanding and ability to reason, with their growth. Such an understanding is absolutely necessary in developing appropriate contents. For instance in the grades K-4, a child associates a comparison, a description, or a manipulation for all objects, it sees around. Although the child doesn’t understand the science of motion while in this grade; activities like pulling, pushing, dropping of objects gives the child an idea of the cause of motion and its control. Similarly sound, heat, light, magnetism, electricity are broadly perceived through learning, observation and experimentation. However, the child would not be able to identify elements of temperature, magnetic forces, static electricity etc. In the grades 5 to 8, the concept of energy is developed through investigations into the properties of light, sound, electricity and magnetism. In these grades, there is a considerable shift towards quantitative aspects of subjects. In the 9 –12 grades, students are geared up completely to deal with motion, force, energy; being familiar with theoretical observations and laboratory investigations (NJSC). Here they understand the reasoning behind the laws of motion and why energy is conserved. They are also capable of dealing with technological designs and its problems, using the concepts and principles learnt.

A report by the National Research Council Committee in September 2006, on the state of K-8 science education, has determined that science instructions offered in schools today are outdated. These are predominantly based on research findings of about three to four decades early. The report offers groundwork for the next reforms and is based on the recent understandings of how children learn, and recommends a narrower and better focus on important areas of science. It seeks to improve professionalism among teachers and have each aspect of instruction and learning, better integrated with each other. The Council’s Committee on Science Learning, responsible for science learning in kindergarten to eighth grade had reviewed both, the reforms undertaken in science education in the last decade and the recent understandings of learning and cognitive science. The committee emphasized that young children are capable of intricate thinking and that each student develops an individual understanding of the nature around him. It also stated that the current debate on the importance of teaching content versus teaching process skills, should be put aside and both be replaced by interweaved aspects of science expertise. The committee has suggested that the curriculum, instruction and assessment should be properly integrated with the focus of fewer, central elements in each discipline, rather than surface level study of a wide topic. It points out that the current science education is based on relatively old assumptions. The current science education underestimates children’s ability of complex thinking and is more attributed to difficulty level in children rather than their ability. For instructions to be successful, teachers need to have a sound understanding of the subject, know how to teach it effectively and also be familiar with the recent research on student learning (AIP, 2006). Proper, effective instructions can clear misunderstandings and bring understanding closer to perfect. The instructions should include student encounters with science in a sequentially designed and strategic way. Students identified as proficient in science must be capable of explaining the scientific perception of the natural world. They need to be capable of introducing and analyzing scientific explanations, understand all aspects of scientific knowledge development, and participate in science-based exercises/discussions.

                      Research tells us that pre-school children are capable of reading and understanding math and science concepts to a higher level than previously expected. Also, if these children are not taught or learn these, they are not adequately prepared for school. Children from low-income families are already behind even as they enter their kindergarten. Under performing programs need to be identified and strengthened. Programs need to be evaluated and modified according to the requirement of our children’s needs, not merely to keep up ineffective programs. Good programs and its proper implementation are the foundations for successful school outcomes.

REFERENCES

US Government Accountability Office. (2005) Head Start: Further development could allow results of new test to be used for Decision making. [Electronic Version]. Downloaded electronically on 25th October 2008 from http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05343.pdf

USHHS (2003) Head Start children not adequately prepared for school, HHS report concludes. [Electronic Version]. Downloaded electronically on 25th October 2008 from

http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2003pres/20030609.html.

Klein E.R (2000) Language development and science enquiry: The Head Start on Science and Communication Program. Vol. 2 No. 2. [Electronic Version]. Downloaded electronically on 26th October 2008 from http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v2n2/klein.html

Wang, M. C. (1992). Adaptive education strategies: Building on diversity. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.

New Jersey Science Curriculum (NJSC) Framework. The Framework: Science Standard 9 [Electronic Version] downloaded on 26th October 2008 from http://www.nj.gov/education/frameworks/science/chap8d.pdf

American Institute of Physics. (AIP, 2006) NRC Report Finds Much of Current K-8 Science Teaching Outdated.  FYI Number 142: 27th October 2008 [Electronic Version] downloaded on 27th October 2008 from http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/142.html

Berrueta-Clement et al., (1984). Changed lives; The effects of the Perry Preschool Project on youths through age 19. Monographs on the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, No. 8, High/Scope Press, Ypsilanti.