Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Abandon Ship! Simulation

We just did an activity based on the real life events that were portrayed in the movie Abandon Ship! (1957).
First, students chose one of these roles:
1.  Able-Bodied Sailor Jones:  Student:_________________________
-Able-Bodied Sailor Jones:  It is somewhat questionable how Jones was able to get from his assigned position below deck to the life boat when no other sailor assigned to the lower decks managed to escape from the ship.  Sailor Jones is in excellent health.  Not married, and no close relatives.
2.  Ship’s Officer O’Maley:  Mr./Ms. O’Malley:  Student: ______________________
-Mr./Ms. O’Malley was the only high ranking office aboard the ship that was able to get to the lifeboat.  It is the boat that s/he has been assigned to in all of the emergency practice drills.  S/he is a capable officer, has navigational skills, and was well-liked by passenger and crew members aboard the ship.  Excellent health.
3.  Quarter Master MacDonald:  Student:  ___________________________
-Little is known about Quarter Master MacDonald.  S/he did serve in the regular navy.  Quarter Master MacDonald did suffer injuries to both hands in the explosion of the ship.  At the present time, Quarter Master MacDonald can not use either hand.  S/he is married and has four children in the U.S..
4.  Self-Made Millionaire Douglas:  Student:  ___________________________
-Mr/Ms Douglas owns and manages one of the U.S.’s largest garment industrial complexes, which employs hundreds of factory workers.  Health:  good to excellent, but over-weight due to lack of exercise.
5.  College Student Mr/Ms Parsons:  Student:  __________________________
                  -A college student who has been on a limited budget European vacation.  Mr/Ms. Parsons is a grand mal epileptic.  Unfortunately, while abandoning the ship, all medication was left behind.  Single—age 22.
6.  Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, Dr. Lightfoot Student:  ____________________
                  -Dr. Lightfoot is black and questions have been raised whether the Nobel Prize was awarded to him/her due to his/her race or his/her ability.  Dr. Lightfoot is 39 years old and is in good health.  Married, with two daughters who have families of their own.
7.  Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, Dr. Singleton Student:  ______________________
                  -It has been said that Dr. Singleton is about to release information to the world that will essentially bring about the solution to                               the world’s ecology problem.  Dr. Singleton is 62 years old and is in excellent health.  Dr. Singleton was born and raised in a small                         town in Arkansas.  S/he comes from a very wealthy family.  Single.
8. Football Player, Mr Small _________ _____and  9.Cheerleader,  Mrs. Small_______________
                  -Mr. and Mrs. Small are in their late twenties.  Mr. Small was a star football player at Ohio State.  Mrs. Small, who also attended    Ohio                   State, was the Homecoming Queen.  Mr. Small is now a running back for a semi-pro football team in New York.  Mrs. Small                                    is eight and one-half months pregnant. Mr. Small is black and Mrs, Small is white.
10.  Army Captain Thomas Student:  _____________________
-Captain Thomas was recently decorated for his/her bravery and valor above and beyond the call of duty.  S/he is on her/his way to the U.S. to personally receive the Medal of Honor from the President.  Captain Thomas is married, has two children and is in his mid-thirties.  While engaged in the action, which resulted in receiving the Medal of Honor, Captain Thomas lost her/his right leg.  Other than this rather serious condition, s/he is in good health. 
11.  Draft Evader Samuels Student:  ________________________
-Samuels left the United States two years ago in order to avoid the military draft.  He then spent two years in Sweden, from which he was recently deported for dealing in illegal drugs.  Samuels is in his early twenties and in good health.  Single. 
12.  Peace Corps Volunteer Mr./Ms. Davidson Student:  ___________________
-A Peace Corps Volunteer who has recently completed 2 years of work in India.  Mr/Mrs Davidson has a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering and is on his/her way back to Boston where s/he is to be married in two months.  S/he is 27 and in excellent health.
13.  Med Student Mr./Ms. Ryan Student: _________________________
-A last year medical student who has been vacationing in France.  S/he is 26 years old, single, and in excellent health.
14. Elderly  man, Mr. Eldridge______________ and 15.Elderly woman, Mrs. Eldridge____________
-An elderly couple, both in their late 60’s and on their way back to their native New Jersey after a one month tour of Spain.  Mr. Eldridge is suffering severely from arthritis and is not capable of walking without the aid of a cane.  The couple will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next week.  They have 8 children and 29 grandchildren and are all living in New Jersey. 
16. Traveling Poet Mr/Ms Carpenter:________________

-A 30 year old traveling poet in excellent health.  Carpenter has never had a permanent home since s/he ran away from a New York orphanage 15 years ago.  S/he spent 4 years in the Navy where s/he acquired a taste for sailing.  S/he has since made several solo sailing voyages in the Caribbean.  Mr/Ms. Carpenter has been divorced three times and is currently separated from his/her 4th wife/husband who resides in Paris.

Then, I told them that just like in real life, a storm was threatening the boat so they must chose 7 people to place a life preserver around and send them into the ocean.
After the group makes their decisions, I tell them the real story of what happened which was based on the movie Abandon Ship, also known as Seven Waves Away. 

In the real life incident, all of those aboard turned to the highest ranking person (ship’s officer) to take command.  He had a sidearm on him.  When the sea got too rough, he called everyone’s attention and he chose who would go/stay.  He kept only the strong, able-bodied who were strong enough to survive a long row.  On the last day, they were rescued and the captain was put on trial for murder.  He was declared innocent, but received a minimum sentence of only 6 months in prison because of the unique circumstances.

I also share what has happened in the activity in all my years of doing this activity in the past (I have saved the data).

For more info,  see the textbook Ferris; Stein pgs 14-16.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Sociological Mindfulness

Please answer the following questions for reflection on Schwalbe's Sociological Mindfulness:

1) What does Schwalbe mean by "sociological mindfulness?"

2) How is this different from sociological imagination?

3) Why does Schwalbe say we should bother with sociological mindfulness?

4)What are some ways that you might live your life differently or view aspects of your life differently if you live with sociological mindfulness?   One example is from the slam poem Touchscreen poem we watched.  If you realize that people are influenced by living in this age of technology that is sociological imagination.  And if you question the influence of technology on you and make conscious choices about how to let it influence you, that is sociological mindfulness.

Schwalbe's "sociological mindfulness" can be a difficult idea to grasp and Schwalbe admits that.  Mindfulness is a  concept that describes an awareness in world at this moment here and now.  It implies being tuned in to the present moment.  Sociological mindfulness therefore, is being tuned into to both the way in which the present moment is influenced by society and also being tuned into how we are a player in shaping the present moment.  The simple way I look at sociological mindfulness is that it is the mirror image of sociological imagination.  In other words, once we realize that people are influenced by their social setting, we can then realize that influence is happening right now and we are a part of it.  Each of us is both influenced by other people and influencing other people.

So, I think there are 2 critical aspects to sociological mindfulness.

First, in being tuned in to the present moment we can see and appreciate how each individual (including ourselves) is affected by when and where we live and all of the social experiences that entails.  That is, we can think with a sociological imagination about others.  And because we realize that others are impacted by these experiences we can appreciate each person's uniqueness.  This makes us more forgiving of others and of ourselves.

The second part of sociological mindfulness is being tuned into the idea that each of us is a participant in a society.  We all affect the social world, even in little ways.  Each little act we do matters and has an affect on other people.  This aspect has a much longer explanation:

Sociological mindfulness is an awareness that we are being influenced by the world and so we can question that influence and hopefully guide it.  And it is an awareness that we are influencing others and hopefully it makes us question that influence so we can have the impact that we want on our world.  Sociological mindfulness is an awareness that society is dynamic and fluid and we are a part of that. In short, sociological mindfulness is the awareness that how we interact in the world matters!

Another way of thinking about it is in Schwalbe's reading,
Think of the people you love and the kind of life you wish for them...I hope you will consider the possibility that mindfulness may be useful as a way to create better lives for more people.
What kind of life would you wish for those whom you love? How can you affect the world to be more like this way of life? Can you see how humans impact society? How can you make an impact that supports the world you want to live in? I think by answering these questions, students can begin to think with sociological mindfulness.

If you are still having a hard time grasping sociological mindfulness think about the past and all the ways individuals with sociological mindfulness have impacted our world: think about  Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Elenore Roosevelt, Desmond Tutu, Caesar Chavez, Einstein, Mother Theresa, Rabbi Heschel, and think about the movements like the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, the women's rights movement, the civil rights movement, the elimination of polio etc... Here is a link to 9 people who changed the world.  And here is 10 acts of courage that changed the world.  All of these people and movements are a product of those who had sociological mindfulness.  Think about Rosa Parks and realize that her actions changed the people on that bus and that changed the people of the city which changed our nation and that has influenced the world's view of human rights and the dignity of all human beings.  Our actions in day to day life, like where we sit on the bus and how we treat others can make a difference.   That awareness is sociological mindfulness.  In my personal life, it might be my parents sending me to college even though they themselves never went there and they didn't have the money.  My grandfather might have had sociological mindfulness when he came alone to America in 1916 at age 15.  He wanted a better life for his future and his family's future.  Both, my parents and my grandparents had an awareness that their choices mattered and that their choices affected the future.  So they made the best decision they could for my future based on that awareness.

The Starfish Parable is another way to think about being sociologically mindful
One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.
Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, "I'm saving these starfish, Sir".
The old man chuckled aloud, "Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?"
The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, "It made a difference to that one!"
 We cannot change the world, but by being aware of how our actions affect those around us, we can make a difference for those who we do come into contact with us.

This reminds me of chaos theory which is a modern theory of science and math that events sometimes seem random but really they are part of a complex system.  Sometimes the butterfly effect is used an example - that the world is so connected and reliant on all processes that the wind from a butterfly flapping its wings in Mexico might contribute to a typhoon across the pacific in Japan.  This thinking applied to society might be considered sociological mindfulness.

Watch slam poet Marshall Soulful Jones perform his poem called touchscreen.  Think about how he has a sociological imagination.

Here is a link to my post about all the research showing the effects of digital devices with special attention to an article from the Atlantic that highlights some of the consequences of the constant barrage of social media.

Here is a Thai commercial that promotes the idea of sociological mindfulness.

I really like this Ted Talk from English teacher Clint Smith.  He talks about silence but I think his talk can be an example of sociological mindfulness.

Here is a video that highlights sociological mindfulness from a radical perspective.

What is sociological mindfulness?

Why be sociologically mindful?

For a further understanding of this idea, you click on the link to "sociological mindfulness" and see some of my posts about it.

Mindfulness mindfulness:

After reading Schwalbe, do you realize that you have an effect on the world? What kind of life would you wish for those whom you love? How can you affect the world to be more like this way of life? Can you see how humans impact society? How can you make an impact that supports the world you want to live in?

Friday, January 19, 2018

Introducing Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

HW: Read and annotate Michael Schwabe's Sociological Mindfulness

Pre-reading questions:
What do you know about the death penalty?

What are the strengths of the U.S. justice system?

What are the challenges of the U.S. justice system?

Do you think that the U.S. should use capital punishment?

About the book: 
A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machinations, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.


JUST MERCY is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of justice.

For more info:  http://bryanstevenson.com/

For sociology class:
As you read, look for connections to sociology.  Annotate the book based on the guide below.  Just Mercy is a true story and thus serves as a real-world example to which sociology concepts can be applied.  You will be required to apply the sociology concepts in class to the stories in the book.

Alignment to sociology by unit:

Unit 1: Thinking Sociologically
            Introduction: Higher Ground
            Chapter 1: Mockingbird Players
                                    Meeting Walter McMillan
            Chapter 2: Stand
                                    The dynamics of criminal justice.
Unit 2: Culture
            Chapter 3: Trials and Tribulations
                                    Walter’s Trial moved to a different county.
            Chapter 4: The Old Rugged Cross
                                    Story of Herbert Richardson; Veteran, mental illness & death penalty
Unit 3: Socialization
            Chapter 5: Of the Coming of John
                                    Walter’s trial has new testimony from Darnell Houston
            Chapter 6: Surely Doomed
                                    Charlie on trial 14yrs old
            Chapter 12: Mother, Mother

Chapter 14: Cruel and Unusual
Unit 4: Race
            Chapter 7:  Justice Denied
                        Ralph Myers recants his testimony about Walter.

            Chapter 9: I’m Here
Chapter 10: Mitigation

Unit 5: Deviance and Social Class
Chapter 8: All God’s Children
                        Trina, Ian and kids
Chapter 11: I’ll Fly Away

            Chapter 13: Recovery

            Chapter 15: Broken

            Chapter 16: The Stonecatchers Song of Sorrow