Learning Outcome 7: The Ethics of Choices and Actions

 

Through my CAS experiences, I’ve had the opportunity for self-growth, to learn how to work collaboratively, to better my skills, to learn how to properly plan and initiate activities, and to engage in global activities. Stepping back from all of this now, something that has been consistent throughout all of my CAS involvement, and something that will continue to be consistent through my future activities and involvements is the concept of what comes from our actions.

There are consequences to every choice and action made, and I feel you can’t ignore that when it comes to CAS activities, whether they’re geared towards self-growth or community based. It can be especially poignant when looking at service activities. There are activities you can get involved with which may seemingly help others as related to global issues, but can also have unforeseen consequences. Before, we’ve learnt that when doing charity work it can be especially important to analyse and reflect on the charity itself. Some charities may keep more of the money raised than expected or may not be true to their mission statements. By supporting something you believe is doing good for others, you may inadvertently be involved in the exploitation of people. As someone who lives in a very global environment, I always have to remind myself of the results of my choices from an international standpoint. For instance, in Hong Kong, taxis are very cheap as compared to London, where I used to live. Whilst this means I might save money, an implication is it’s much harder for drivers to earn a living wage. The clothes I buy may come from sweatshops or the products I use may come from factories poisoning the atmosphere. Every one of my choices has results and implications that I may not always be able to see but I think through my CAS experiences I’ll be able to perceive more.

In all the CAS activities I’ve become involved with, I’ve always continually tried to think about other people and things involved that I could have an affect on. This ranges to the way I talk to others whilst give feedback in rehearsals for the school musical, to the charities and organisations I become involved with for service work, as at their own levels I always make choices and actions that affect others. Though whether I volunteer with a large charity or not may seem like it would have the affect of  a small pebble in the ocean, it would still affect others in some way. If I were to get involved with a charity that didn’t always follow through with its promises, would I inadvertently be promoting that charity still to others around me who may join? Some impacts may seem more direct such as if I made a comment to a younger actor in rehearsal that wasn’t meant to be hurtful but came off like it to them, then that’s a consequence of me not being prepared enough or aware enough of the perspectives of people around me.

It would be impossible to have this perfect perception of everyone’s thoughts and feelings in order to help everyone (and that in itself brings about some ethical dilemmas) but it’s a challenge in itself that it’s an irreducible fact that any choice or action you take (not just in CAS) has impacts. What can help with this challenge though is continually learning and experiencing more from the world, by working with others and working on yourself to become more knowledgable about the footprint you have. My CAS experiences have helped with this. As I mentioned already, CAS activities give you many different kinds of chances, most importantly, the chance to understand yourself and your world more. It’s through this continual education that will extend far beyond my IB career that I’ll have the chance to understand the ethical results of my choices and actions more.

Learning Outcome 6: Engaging with Issues of Global Significance

One of the things that I really like about the CAS component of the IB is that it not only encourages you to grow as an individual and become someone well-rounded with a variety of abilities and skills, but it also encourages you to engage with global issues through your CAS activities. My understanding of global issues has been extended through my involvement with CAS activities, and in some of my involvement I’ve been able to take appropriate action in response to some of these issues, on a local and international level.

There are many global issues that I can connect with the CAS activities I’ve been involved with. There are three different CAS activities I’ve been involved with in which I’ve been able to engage with issues of a global significance at a local, national, and international level. Firstly, this summer I was a volunteer at the Whistler Film Festival summer series. One of my duties as a volunteer was to walk around and make sure no one was smoking at the events. At this time, there had been a spate of forest fires in BC and the area that the festival was in had a lot of dry grass, meaning a fire could very easily be started. Though my role in this activity was to take this action at a local small-scale level, I can recognise the greater global issue of mankind’s impact on our environment. Though I was there to take action to mitigate an issue in a smaller community, my role was indicative of the greater actions necessary to help the environment.

Another CAS experience I can reflect on is my involvement in teaching domestic workers how to swim through an non-profit organisation in Hong Kong. Once again, the service work I was doing was on a local level but it’s hard to neglect the national implications, throughout Hong Kong, China, and beyond. There was a moment on the first day of the ongoing weekly training that the head of the organisation addressed the group of swimmers and explained how there was no separation between anyone there except for between teachers and swimmers. This really made me think, as the ways in which people treat domestic workers in Hong Kong can be extremely unfair, and even if I was just able to take action on this national issue by just being there represented as an equal, then I would still be able to make a difference.

Finally on an international level, through my involvement with my CAS project of Applause for a Cause (a charity concert raising money to help build schools in Nepal), I was able to identify and learn more about a huge global issue. The community we were raising money for through our performance didn’t have any school buildings – and it was hard not to see the implications globally. There are countless places in our world where children do no have the proper access to education, and we were all able to educate ourselves whilst involved in this show about the poverty cycle and impact that an education can really make. In this form of indirect action, whilst we were able to make a difference through the charity work, we were also all able to educate ourselves further about the global issues of the right to education and the roles we can take on to collectively make a difference.

Learning Outcome 5: The Benefits of Working Collaboratively

Through my CAS experiences, I’ve had the chance to work both by myself in my of experiences and collaboratively. Reflecting now, I can recognise that there are range of benefits and challenges that can come with both but the key learning outcomes have to do with collaboration in CAS experiences. Collaboration is key in a lot of CAS experiences, whether its through the five stages of conceiving an idea and taking action, or simply through the nature of the CAS activity itself.

A CAS experience that I’ve had that lends itself especially towards collaborative work was last year’s upper school student council. My role on the council was as the communications representative but we each had roles and responsibilities that extended beyond the prescribed titles. In this CAS experience, a key part of the job of being on the student council was planning and executing events for the student body, such as a halloween haunted house, or the the annual CDNIS got talent, or organising cookie delivery for teachers on teacher’s day. There were many benefits and challenges that came from working collaboratively in this way. I think the benefits gained from working collaboratively in a CAS experience is that you really get the chance to be able to see and understand other people’s perspectives and the ways in which other people work. Certainly on the student council we all worked in different ways, but when we were able to identify all of our combined strengths, we were able to work together to a more impactful degree. Another benefit of collaborative work I’ve seen through my CAS experiences is that you really do get much more of a learning opportunity. There would be times when we were planning events that people would bring in new ideas and information and with this collation and synthesis of ideas and opinions, it really become a great environment for learning as there were so many resources of new information. A third benefit of working collaboratively in CAS experiences is that it’s easier to make a bigger impact through your experience. With all of us working together on the council, we were able to plan more events, extend our reach within the community, and just were really able to do more for the student body – something that would be difficult to accomplish without collaborative work.

Despite these benefits there definitely are some challenges when it comes to collaborative work. In my service activity of helping teach domestic workers how to swim, there are some challenges sometimes that arise from different teachers having different ways of doing things. Though it can be a benefit to have a variety of strengths and methods in a group, it can also cause a lot of tension as each person has a way of doing things that they like best. Though I’ve definitely learned how to see and respect other people’s ideas and perspectives, it can still be difficult sometimes to see where the ideas are coming from as I don’t understand the workings of their mind as much. Though these challenges can be quite an uphill climb when it comes to CAS activities, I believe that further CAS experiences will only allow me to find more ways to overcome these challenges and better my collaborative skills.

Learning Outcome 4: Commitment and Perseverance in CAS Experiences

I believe that I’ve definitely shown commitment and perseverance throughout my CAS experiences, from my involvement with my CAS project, to my ongoing CAS activities that happen on a regular basis.

I was involved with my CAS project – Applause for a Cause – for quite a long period of time. Our final performance was at the end of February earlier this year, though I was involved with the project from a very early time, several months before rehearsals even began. My drama teacher was the one to originally conceive the idea of us having a charity concert, and she involved myself and a few other theatre students early on in the planning process so we could help out before the final performance in February. We got to be there for every step of the planning and organising phase, and I was involved with suggesting songs, creating posters, organising groups, choreographing, and leading some rehearsals. It was not only a commitment that lasted a long period of time but also one which involved a lot of work. I was involved with much more than just performing, and I had to persevere with this as it was quite a heavy work load. When we finally performed, the impacts of the concert were much more far-reaching than the end of February, as the money raised would go to Nepal and we got to hear back from the communities there.

Apart from my CAS project, I am involved with several ongoing CAS experiences that happen on a weekly, biweekly, and even triweekly basis. A good example of this is my action based activity of dance. I go to dance lessons at least three times a week, with classes lasting over an hour. With my work load already quite piled up, and the classes quite late in the evening, I really believe my commitment to my CAS experiences can be seen. Many other dancers I know bowed out of additional classes in their senior year due to it being too much of a commitment but since I enjoy the CAS experience and get a lot out of my involvement in it, I’m able to persevere and attend dance regularly. I think this is a good outcome of my learning experiences, as it ultimately goes towards making me a more well-rounded individual.

Learning Outcome 3: Initiating and Planning a CAS Experience

Before you can have a CAS experienced, there is obviously some planning that needs to be done. The CAS stages are investigation, preparation, action, reflection (ongoing) and demonstration, resulting in a CAS experiences that can be ongoing and impactful. I’m familiar with these stages by this point, especially when it came to the organisation of the CAS project I was involved with – Applause for a Cause. This was a collaborative project that involved the work of a lot of students and teachers together to organise and put on a charity concert to raise money for the charity Worldwide Action. The goal was ultimately to raise money to go towards building schools for communities in Nepal, and it was done through this charity concert wherein students presented individual or group performances. I reflected on this CAS project previously in terms of the five CAS stages, but even beyond my CAS project, I’ve been able to see how the process of initiating and planning a CAS experience is invaluable towards your growth.

A CAS experience that I felt I had to initiate and organise was volunteering as a Red Cross assistant water safety instructor this past summer in Whistler. In the process of getting fully qualified as a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (which allows you to teach swimming and water safety across Canada) you have the option of gaining experience at a local pool by watching classes to help you work towards your qualification. I ended up volunteering for a full swim teaching session as an assistant water safety instructor, which involved me being in the pool full-time with the class, assisting children, and even planning lessons. Of course this CAS experience involved a lot of coordination and planning on my part. I had to learn about lesson planning and look into different kinds of games I could use to teach strokes or water safety, and I also had to prepare equipment / lesson plans / myself to be mentally ready to teach a class. By coordinating with the supervisors at the pool I was able to gain this hands-on experience and not only watch the classes but to actually take action and help out.

This is only one example of a time wherein I’ve had to conceive an idea and put it into action. Other times have been in school productions, especially recently as I’ve been assistant directing the school musical. I’ve had the chance to solve problems creatively with movement on stage, as well as I’ve brought in fresh ideas, demonstrated them, and have got the chance to rework and reflect on how they work on stage. All in all, I feel I am good at planning and initiating my CAS experiences, by both building collaboratively with others as well as taking initiatives of my own.

Learning Outcome 2: Undertaking Challenges and Learning New Skills

By becoming involved in a variety of CAS experiences, there is a great opportunity to be able to undertake new challenges and learn new skills. To become not only a well-rounded and experienced learner but to become a strong individual, I think it’s really important to jump on this chance to take on challenges. This involves both going into unfamiliar experiences as well as extending existing challenges, and I’ve had the opportunity through my CAS experiences to do both, allowing me to develop skills through expertise not previously undertaken and to extend it in established areas.

A challenge I have undertake with my CAS experiences that allows me to extend and develop my skills further in an already established area is taking dance lessons. I had done dance when I was very young but stopped due to lack of interest. I picked up dance again 9th grade and now in 12th grade I do several hours of dance training a week in ballet and contemporary. Though this is a challenge I had previously undertaken and my skills were already somewhat developed in this field, I still consistently find dance to be very challenging to me both physically and mentally. Though I’ve learnt a lot in the last four years, I was coming into dance relatively late compared to my classmates and since I was put in a reasonably high level with little experience, the past four years have involved me having to work incredibly hard not only to keep up with the training but to catch up as well. The challenge here isn’t just physically (though I have faced physical challenges such as with my flexibility being very far behind others) but mentally as well as every time I stepped into the studio, I had to be on it technique wise and constantly be focusing on every aspect of my body as well as still keeping my mind open and continually learning. I’ve learnt a lot due to this CAS experience, not just through the action aspects and becoming stronger but I’ve learnt discipline and how to concentrate better since those are the skills I’ve needed to learn and extend beyond what I had already established to be able to do the activity.

On the other side, an activity I took up this year that is an entirely new challenge is swim teaching. Recently I got involved with an organisation named Splash that helps teach domestic workers in Hong Kong how to swim for free. Because in the past I’ve had a lot of experience with swimming and I’ve received quite a few lifeguarding and swim teaching qualifications, I decided to join this service activity, which allowed me to undertake new challenges and learn new skills. The main challenge for me here with learning how to teach adults swimming was to be able to work with others to identify their own strengths and weaknesses as to be able to find the best ways in which they could learn. It’s still a challenge I am trying to overcome as each swimmer has an already established way of doing things and I’m coming in inexperienced but all in all its still a rewarding challenge which allows me not only to grow and develop my skills through my CAS involvement but also help others grow and develop as well.

Learning Outcome 1: My Strengths and Areas for Growth

 

Through involvement in CAS activities, I can definitely see how I have grown as an individual with various abilities and skills. Though some abilities and skills are definitely developed more than others and there are definitely still some areas for growth, by being open to new activities and working hard I believe that I am now more aware of my own strengths and weaknesses, allowing me to now easily identify ways in which I can develop and grow.

The CAS activities I’ve engaged with all lend themselves towards developing different areas of strength. For instance, by being involved with theatrical productions in school, I’ve been able to grow more confident and have learned how to present myself not only onstage in character but socially and in school situations as well such as in oral presentations and assessments. Another example is that a service activity I am involved with consists of helping teach domestic workers how to swim. This activity has allowed me to learn how to work better in group environments as essentially we’re all working together towards a common goal, and this activity has strengthened my leadership abilities additionally. An action based activity such as dance training lends itself towards strengthening me as an individual both physically and mentally as I’ve had to learn further endurance and discipline to keep up with the activity.

I can identify strengths in myself as an individual: I’m a creative thinker and problem solver, I can empathise well in situations and understand people’s perspectives, and I have a strong work ethic allowing me to work hard towards my goals. These strengths have only been further built by the CAS activities I am involved in as they allow me to hone these traits. I am able to work creatively whilst directing scenes in school musical, as well as creatively problem solve in past activities such as when planning events whilst on the upper school student council last year. Furthermore I have to push myself to keep open-minded during service activities and upkeep a determined work ethic during straining activities such as dance.

My CAS activities not only allow me to identify my strengths and continue to build them up, but they also help me identify my own weaknesses and areas for growth as they are apparent in challenges I face. In theatre, though I am comfortable onstage, sometimes my projection still isn’t strong enough. This translates sometimes into school activities where I can feel sometimes I am not as confident when it comes to presenting my ideas and opinions. Becoming more confident in myself and the way I present myself in school is absolutely an area of growth, which I can identify from my CAS experiences. Another area of growth would be my collaborative skills. Typically I prefer working alone but I know it is important to be able to work well with others and that the work produced can be even stronger with multiple people’s strengths combined. I can notice this area for growth in my CAS activities as sometimes in previous activities such as with the student council, I found it challenging to work closely with others to plan efficiently.

With my identified areas of growth, I can work towards strengthening in them through my CAS experiences. With learning to build self-confidence and presenting myself better, activities such as being in school productions and the orchestra gives me a chance to have to perform more and hone the way I present myself. Also, with working with others, many of my activities are collaborative in nature and it’s this group experience that will allow me to strengthen my skills and abilities as an individual.

Maths: Axioms and Conjecture

If mathematics is created by people, why do we sometimes feel that mathematical truths are objective facts about the world rather than something constructed by human beings?

Maths is an interesting topic full of rules. But why do we feel that sometimes mathematical truths and simply objective facts about the world. Why do they get this status of being completely true and objective when rather they are something constructed by human beings. Did humans invent mathematical truths or did they simply find them? What is the nature of maths when it comes to being completely objective and true. I believe that the idea that math truths are objective come from that within the system of maths that human beings have created, it is impossible to prove them wrong. Within the human constructed form of maths, these truths become ultimate truths as they are objectively true within the system. Axioms come around, rules or statements that are accepted as true without proof. We can see mathematical truths as being objective facts only within human systems. Human created mathematics is the way humans interpret part of what the world we have been offered and though these human created mathematical truths cannot be seen as objective within the greater world, when we step back to see maths as something made by man, these truths hold up.

 

History and the Role of Bias

“We should always aim to acquire knowledge that is free from Bias. Evaluate this statement in History and one other AOK.”

In class, we have been looking at the role bias has within history. We examined events such as the shooting of students at Tiananmen Square in China. In Western media, the event is referred to as the Tiananmen Square Massacre whereas in China it is known as the Tiananmen Square Incident and public information is limited. The way the event is viewed in China versus the rest of the world is radically different, showing the role that bias has in historical narratives. Is it possible to have history without an element of bias? In the books we read and the documentaries we watch, the creators all have their own opinions and this kind of world view with this lens can severely impact the messages present in historical narratives. If we have an unbiased version of history, it would presumably just be facts about what happened. But this raises questions as to where we are actually getting these facts – for instance with Tiananmen, the Chinese government  reported significantly less deaths than other media and bodies. Another implication raised is that history then is just facts, which may devalue the AOK itself, and disregard the work of analysis and other perspectives within the AOK. Perhaps then history can be seen as a collection of facts and narratives as viewed through many different perspectives. If we are always striving to get knowledge which is free of bias in history, we have to ask ourselves – is anything truly unbiased? Are the sources of our information and facts truly bias free and can we trust them as such. On the other hand as well if we truly wanted to learn from history and about the multiple perspectives out there on earth, wouldn’t we want to see the bias? The presence of bias in history can teach us even more about history, such as the values and ideals of government bodies or groups such as in China. Bias may be a key part of history as it is definitely something that works closely within historical narratives.

If we were to look at this statement within another AOK such as natural sciences, the way we view bias may be very different. If we were conducting experiments in the natural sciences wherein results would be there to inform the way we view the natural world, we would want to strive to a further degree to find unbiased knowledge and would want to spend less time analysing the possible bias of sources. A natural science study into something such as climate change may have bias depending on the group producing it. Climate change deniers would report it differently and what would come of this is a set of very biased results. But whereas in history where we could look at the different views to gain further knowledge, in natural sciences it would be much better to have clear unbiased results about the climate, showing the different roles bias can play in different AOKs.

My CAS Project

What I have chosen as my CAS project is my involvement in the rehearsal process and the performance of the musical theatre charity concert ‘Applause For a Cause.’ The concert was organised by students and teachers within the school in partnership with the charity Worldwide Action. The purpose of the project was to put on a concert featuring some of the most well-known songs from musicals around the world. The goal of this was to raise enough money through tickets for the event to fund the building of a new classroom in a school in Nepal. As students we got the chance to choose our songs as well as run rehearsals and organise choreography and vocals. The rehearsals ran from the first week of January, eventually culminating in a final concert in the final week of February. We were able to raise enough money to reach our goal, and the concert was a huge success overall, with many coming to enjoy some of their favourite songs from musicals. The process of this project fits well with the CAS stages.

Investigation and Planning

In the stage before the start of rehearsals, myself and a few other students were involved in the initial investigation and planning of the concert. Before the actual concrete planning, Ms Alborn introduced the concept of a musical theatre showcase and tried to gauge interest within our theatre class. All five of us in class were very interested in the idea and in being involved in the planning. We looked at different groups of people that would be interested in getting involved and managed to begin to collate everyones different skills and interests together. For instance some of us were well versed with more recent and modern musicals whilst others knew classic musicals and in coming together we were able to start planning. When the entire cast came together, we began to decide upon songs (and thus roles and responsibilities) within the show and rehearsal process. We looked at the timeline of the show, and additionally organised rehearsals and times that certain logistical tasks would need to be complete by. We grouped up into different ensembles and different duets or groups as well as working together to figure out responsibilities within them. I was assigned to be involved with 4 different ensembles, and within this I would be helping with choreographing 2 of them.

Action

The stage of action was incredibly collaborative. It was essentially the rehearsal stage of the show and this is when we implemented the plans that we had put in place. In my ensembles and my pair pieces we rehearsed at least once a week, putting together choreography and working on the songs themselves. Coming together with these teams, I believe we managed to use many different learning styles due to the diversity in all the ways we thought. Decision making and problem solving was needed constantly, especially in the older female ensemble I was a part of wherein it was necessary for us to take action by ourselves. I learnt a lot about collaborative work on a high level, especially in an environment where we had a limited amount of time and high goals. Most of the problems I encountered that were overcame had to do with working within these large groups as sometimes with things such as choreographing there would be many ideas thrown out in the room, and you would have to avoid working in a cyclical way and actually try to finish work. Finally at the end of this action stage we performed, and it was a test of confidence and risk-taking abilities as well as a challenge to the skills of all of us as individuals and as a team. Additionally we were able to achieve our goal through the action of raising enough money to fund the building of the classroom in Nepal!

Reflection

Many questions and thoughts were generated throughout the entire process. In the action stages I felt some initial stress and nerves over the time limits we had and being under pressure to choreograph and rehearse. Ultimately I think that I’ve realised in some of these situations however, pressure can aid in the production of work, especially when it is important and there is limited time. I also kept thinking about the relationship between arts and service and how it seems to work very well with myself as a learner and my interests. Though the service may be indirect, throughout the entire process we were keeping the end goals in mind and always striving to put on a show that people would want to come and see (and ultimately to donate money to). I think arts and service aspects can go very well together because of the way arts manage to engage individuals and communities and how you can apply many different issues and charities to different celebrations and types of art, such as what we’re doing with our charity concert.

Demonstration and Celebration 

Going onto stage the first time that night, under the lights and in costume, I was initially very nervous. I hadn’t been involved in a show or a project before where it was solely about singing and the performance through song. I had been in musicals before where singing was accompanied by acting and plot but it felt like a much more concentrated performance environment. In my duet I definitely felt stress and anxiety but I also felt an immense sense of pride. Because of the goals of this project, in raising money to fund the building of a classroom, it suddenly felt like this was much bigger than ourselves and how well we could sing. Once I took this into account, the pride really aided me in reaching a level of comfort wherein I really enjoyed the performance itself and being on stage, despite still having some jitters. All in all on this helped greatly with my skills and abilities on a personal level, not just performance-wise. Despite growing more comfortable as a performer I also learnt how to work better with people to a higher extent under pressure and finding ways to incorporate many people’s ideas together. We were able to share all that we accomplished and learnt through the final performance which was hugely successful.

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