September 14, 2011, by EP
– Dean Young
In Crimes Against Humanity, we looked at Picasso’s eleven developments of a bull. As an aficionado of art, my honest opinion is that the first bull was my least favorite. Others may disagree with this because they don’t see a bull in the abstractions, but the first lithograph is too common in my eyes. It even feels somewhat like a cliché because the image does not have a unique message; I have seen this before. Anyone, with time and patience, can do a lithograph like the first bull just by observing and copying what you see. Picasso’s true accomplishment in his bull series is that he takes things a step further in showing viewers the process he takes to abstract the bull to get to its essence. The concept that Picasso explored reminded me of GCE’s structure, and so it also reminded me of my purpose for being here. I chose GCE because I wanted to be in a place that embraces diversity and different perspectives. Diversity is seen in the student body, but also in the ideas that are growing at the school. Students are encouraged to have confidence in their opinions so that they can have the voices to speak those opinions. Picasso draws his bulls from different perspectives, and classes at GCE use different perspectives to stimulate discussion and deepen knowledge. I think the desire to contribute is a good quality to support because it makes for a creative environment and rooms can become very silent when people feel afraid to say what is on their minds.
The importance of embracing different perspectives was emphasized by Chimamanda Adichie in her “Danger of the Single Story” TED Talks lecture. From that speech, I learned about the question: Where do stereotypes come from? Stereotypes are the results of single stories–stories that we see as singular to a certain group of people. Having observed a degree of racism, I know how much stereotypes can hurt. It feels like others are rejecting you by denying your individuality as a person. But Ms. Adichie is right in saying that we can all buy into the single story.. The reality is that most people aren’t immune to believing that one thing can be true for all. It’s understandable as a function of our human minds–we tend to categorize. I feel that a way to counterbalance our minds’ function is to look at things as a child would. Letting go of the knowledge that we want to have about people is an endeavor, but to genuinely interact with a person as if you don’t know anything about them can cause you to learn something deeper about them. I hope I can bring my childish point-of-view to my classes at GCE. I still carry the same message my parents told me when I entered kindergarten: be yourself. I want to add to the positive feeling that GCE, in many ways, is already sending out.
GCE has a rare focus on each student’s learning styles. I discovered that I am mainly an intrapersonal type of learner blended with a visual-spatial and linguistics style. When I looked at the course diagram for Crimes Against Humanity, I understood the direction this class is going to take to help its students reach a level of unconscious competence–having our knowledge available as a second nature. Just by looking at the title of this course, I imagined learning about how to define humanity and understanding the complexities behind crimes. After my first week at GCE, I think that what I’m going to learn in this class and at GCE will go beyond making identifications and grasping material. I think I will learn more about both humanity and myself. Knowing more about those two could help me to learn more about empathizing with the world around me. People should know no limits when learning, and there is a collective competence that can be reached at GCE.