The Painting of an Argument

Debate is an art. The qualities that people generally associate with art are present in debate. Debate is arguing, but it is also so much more than that. It encompasses research, persuasion, and often public speaking all in one activity. Being able to debate skillfully is not something that every person can do. It takes a lot of practice to do well, just like drawing and playing an instrument. It isn’t for everyone either. Not everyone enjoys debating, which is like how not everyone likes to draw.

I believe that debate is an art because it is something that requires skill, talent, and a bit of panache to really succeed. That is what art is to most people, but also to most people, art is bland. It doesn’t encapsulate much besides painting, sculptures, writing, or music. Yet, the qualities that I listed for someone to be able to debate well are the same ones needed to do any of those forms of art well. So why not include it under the definition of art?

Some people may not agree that debate is an art because it’s not something that they’re used to being known as art, or something that they are used to being around at all. For most people, in their daily lives they only encounter debate when in an argument themselves; maybe they’ll watch the presidential debate every four years. When a person isn’t exposed to something, how are they supposed to know if something is an art or not? The answer is that they cannot know. I would suggest to the people who disagree with my claim to try to watch political debates as often as possible and to read up on how to perfectly craft an argument. If they are still unsatisfied with the idea that debate is a form of art, I would ask them to open up their mind a little more and try to see the differing perspectives that others hold.

Debate can be as entertaining as a performance if you see it done correctly. The way in which someone’s voice sounds, trying to convince you that they are on the right side and you should join it, can be thrilling. I remember when I first heard an excellent debater, not some politician, but a kid that’s a year older than myself and who was sixteen at the time. I was at my first big Model United Nations conference and this boy who goes to my school was a major speaker in the general assembly. He was able to address the crowd for longer than the usual speaking time for a speech, which was enough time for myself to become awestruck. I didn’t know that a person could speak as well as he is able to until that moment. Most people probably have never heard someone speak like that and maybe they never will, but when it happens, they will know that what they just experienced was art.

Art is something that is appealing to the senses. The visual sense is appealed to by a painting or sculpture, whereas for hearing it could be a violin solo. The art of cooking appeals to the senses of taste and smell. The art of debate? It appeals to the intellectual sense in people. In other words, it appeals to the mind.

While the mind can be stimulated by other forms of art, none other is as appealing for stimulation as the art of debate. It makes people think and attempt to understand the concepts being argued between the speakers. The audience is expected to make up their own opinion on the topic. To do that and to truly experience debate, the audience must pay attention to the analyses posed by the debaters. It is necessary for the people to be able to wrap their heads (or minds) around the ideas to know what is actually being told to them. The viewer is able to feel like they are participating in the activity of debate without actually debating. Most traditional art may be able to move people to certain feelings or inspiration, but few other forms are able to let the audience feel participatory in the art.

A form of art that is often overlooked is debate. It doesn’t fit into the traditional mold set by centuries of artists, but rather one of new forms that is being created as the masses are taking back the definition of art. Debate requires talent, skill, and many other qualities that you need to succeed for any other type of art. Debaters can produce emotional feelings in the members of their audience and inspire them, too, just like any other piece of art. The way in which it is able to engage audience members without making them take part in the key aspect of the art-speaking to the audience-is incredibly unique and cannot be done by other forms of art. Debate is one of the most genuine forms of art and it is impossible to deny that it is, in fact, art.

Author’s Note: This piece was an assignment for my AP Language and Composition class. The purpose was to argue why something that I do in my life is art. My topic was debate, as clearly shown.

Advertisements

I Want to Do More

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again in this post; I am going to do more than anything possible in this suburb of a city that is just now feeling some gentrification. I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but I am better than this place. This place whose downtown area is just a ton of bars and restaurants with barely any shops in between, with the only store that isn’t very expensive being the Salvation Army. This place whose middle schoolers shouted a racist chant during lunch and ended up on national news because they’re actually that stupid. This place where the entire high school is divided into cliques with very few willing to step outside them. This place where it is not possible to succeed unless you take AP classes and make your own path in school. This place that I have to leave to get to where I need to go in my life.

I am someone who knows what she wants to go into in her life. I want to pursue my law degree and I feel a strong need for social justice activism. This need has only recently come about, but it’s actually part of an awakening in my life. I already knew that I am going to do something good in my life, but now I’m finally beginning to understand what it will be. For now, I’m going to work on projects in the advocacy section of my Model United Nations team and I hope to be the advocacy officer next year. That’s currently what I see myself being able to do, but I want to do more with my life than just that. I know that I have to wait until I go back to school to really be able to tell how much I’ll be able to stretch myself. I’m doing more this year than I have before and I’m probably underestimating what will need to be done in my every day life.

Whatever I do, it won’t be accomplished where I am right now. Not in my location or in high school, which I’ll be in for about another two years. It’s frustrating being able to see my future so far ahead like this, but it is what it is. I want to be an accomplished student. What is also important to me is being an accomplished person. I want to feel successful and to do that I can’t just do things related to school. I know myself and I know that I want to be part of something bigger than all of that. School may be my primary focus, but it cannot be my only focus. I refuse to let my life be that way.

 

What to Study

I’ve been becoming more solid in something that I don’t think a lot of kids my age are at all sure about. I know what I want to be when I’m older. I know that I want to major in political science. I know that it’ll be in a pre-law program. I know that I’m going to be a lawyer. I have wanted to be a lawyer since fourth grade, but have actually been denying that part of myself until now. I thought it was too much schooling and too much money. I’ve finally accepted what I want to do just this year.

I don’t know any facts of the plan besides my major and the whole pre-law business. I’ve thought about what I want for location and I’m pretty sure that I want it to be in walking distance of a city-ish area. I’m not completely sure, though. I plan to visit a bunch of schools to try and find out what the right fit for me will be. There are a lot of things to take into account when you’re deciding where to spend four years of your life.

There’s something that has been irking me recently about college. I went to this really cool program at Wayne State University in Detroit in July. It was through one of the centers in the liberal arts college called the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies. I got a couple of pamphlets from them about the degrees that you can get in Peace and Conflict Studies and I looked up information about it on the Wayne State website. I fell in love with it a bit. I still want to do political science as my major, but that’s still an option. You can only co-major or minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. This all sounds pretty good, right? It’s not perfect, though.

This program is not really available at many schools. I looked into the public universities in Michigan and the closest program that’s like the one at Wayne State is you can minor in Peace and Justice Studies at Michigan State University. That’s all I’ve found so far. I guess that it’s a reason to value Wayne State higher than other schools. I need to tour there, though, and I don’t really want to choose that place just because of that program. I need more reasons. I’m going to tour more schools and I’m probably going to apply there anyway. It’s just frustrating that I’d have to go that specific school if I wanted to go in that direction and stay in state.

If you’re keeping up with my blog, remember that professor who offered to write the letter of recommendation? From Wayne State and that program. One of the cool things that would come with pursuing that part of a degree is that I have met the director of the CPCS and I know two people in that office, whom I am mostly sure teach classes that I would probably end up taking through there. I hope that they would remember me. I did win an award at that program I attended there and they were some of the people who decided it.

I think that Wayne State might end up being where I want to go. I’m only going into my junior year of high school, so I won’t be applying until a year from now, which I’m pretty glad about because I know that I’m not ready to make such a big decision. I can’t help but think about how one day I’m probably going to read this blog post after I have made a decision of where to go to school. I’ll either be thinking, “You should have known, younger self. That is the place for you.” Or something more like, “You were off. So off. Could not be farther. What were you thinking?” To both, well, I’m thinking that I’m unsure about where I want to go to school right now and that area of study is definitely a pro for Wayne State. To the former, considering I haven’t even started my junior yet, you should cut me some slack. To the latter, I was thinking that it sounded good. “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” In this instance, the time is right now.

The City Nearby

I just finished reading a book. It’s called Shot in Detroit and was written by Patricia Abbott. The premise is a white, female photographer takes pictures of young, dead black men in Detroit. The story takes place in 2011, while it was published in 2016. Being only sixteen right now, when I started reading it, it was about a time that I don’t really remember on a large scale. I turned ten in 2011 and entered fifth grade. That’s what I remember. The narrator was talking about how bad Detroit was and I had kind of forgotten that it’s only been pretty recently that it’s been turning around. The book frequently talked about landmarks and places throughout the metro area and it’s really been making me reflect on my own experience of living in a suburb of Detroit.

Living in metro Detroit, there’s alway been a sort of pull to the city. The Tigers, Red Wings, the strange attachment to cars, I don’t know, just things that make you feel like you don’t just live in a suburb outside of the city, like you’re actually part of it. Yet, at the same time, I’ve felt a detachment, too. When I was a kid I wondered why our so called local news isn’t actually local. The weather report for our direct area? Nonexistent. It kind of felt like my town didn’t matter. It doesn’t really, but I’m okay with it now that I know the world is a lot bigger.

I’m going to tell you a kind of odd metaphor, but trust me, it’s accurate. The suburban life is like there’s a huge cake, but you only are about a small patch of frosting. Sure, you can take a bite of the actual cake if you want to, but you only actually care about it on rare occasions. The frosting is where you are at and where it’s nice to be. Sometimes you may visit better, more decadent patches of frosting, or even crappier ones, but for the most part you stay where you are. The frosting relies on the cake, so there is a sense of unity and pride about being part of the cake, but for the most part the frosting doesn’t bother with the cake. An unfortunate thing is that the cake used to be kind of crappy, while the frosting was much better. Fortunately the cake is becoming back to former high quality glory. It’s not there yet, but it will be eventually. Or not, I can’t predict the future. That’s what it’s like living in a suburb of Detroit for myself. I mean, in the form of a metaphor that compares it to cake.

I thought I knew about Detroit. I had field trips in elementary school to museums where I learned about old time Detroit or the car industry or something like that. A trip to the DIA(Detroit Institute of Art) in middle school. I thought I knew. I was wrong. Reading this book was like another step on this mental journey that I’ve been on. The more I continue on this journey, the more that I know that I want to become a lawyer. I’m sure. My ideas are becoming more liberal and I am understanding social issues on a deeper and more empathetic level than I did before. Than I did at the beginning of the summer when I posted my first blog on here. I am growing as a person and it’s upon reflection like this that I can tell how I’ve changed. I care more than I used to. I was much more apathetic. Apathetic was how I went about feeling about these things, but now I just can’t not care about the world anymore.

I know that I owe part of this to having gone to the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute in July at Wayne State University in midtown Detroit. That was the summer program that I wrote about previously. I wanted to maintain being almost completely anonymous, including to my location, but the only way that I can truly make sense of and let my readers into how I genuinely feel is if you guys can understand where I am coming from. Literally. And I’m only isolating myself to the metro area, which is not small by any means.

RBSI was an impactful experience. It was one of those times in your life where you don’t really understand what it meant for you to go through that until afterwards. It’s been over a month since it ended and I’m just now seeing how it shaped me as a person. Eight and a half days. That’s all it took. The first day we went on this bus tour of Detroit. I learned a lot from it. But I am also the kind of person who was unsettled by the tour guide’s lack of caring about gentrification. She seemed delighted by it. Maybe that’s putting her into an undeserved bad light. I think that she was glad that Detroit was finally getting back on its feet, so it was more ignorance than something sinister. That lady knows a bunch of facts about Detroit, so it’s not that she doesn’t love the city. I can understand why someone can be so happy that something good is finally happening that they can ignore the bad parts that go with it. I still don’t agree or like that she didn’t even mention the word gentrification.

So I learned facts about Detroit during that time, but I also learned about people and race issues. There was a pretty big focus on the 1967 Riots(there’s a term that they’re supposed to be called, but I don’t remember what it is and I feel bad about that) which was most likely because the fiftieth anniversary was this year and actually was the week after we finished the program. I knew next to nothing about the riots before going there, but we did visit where the riots started the first day on that bus tour. It’s just a park now, with a neighborhood right next to it. We even spent an afternoon with two people from Black Lives Matter. To be honest, we did so many things during that time that it would take multiple blog posts to contain it all.

I know that if I hadn’t gone to RBSI, I wouldn’t feel like I do now. I had thought that my eyes were open. I really did. I realized last night that I was squinting. I was squinting and now they’re open. The thing that makes me irritated with myself is I thought that what I saw in my limited, squinted view was just about all there was to see. Maybe I could have opened them a bit wider is what I had thought, but I was so wrong. My eyes feel open now. I know. I was ignorant. Now I know.

 

This Year’s Schedule

Today I got my schedule for my junior school year. It looks kind of odd, but that’s because they set up the schedule so that it says what you’ll have each semester for each class period. There are only two classes that will stay the same on my schedule from the first semester to the second semester. Like any rational teenage girl, I highlighted my classes for the first semester in purple to not become confused. And trust me, it was confusing. I have the second semester of a class above the first semester of it, so when I was comparing my schedule to my friends’ schedules, I got my hopes up thinking that we had the same class together. Nope. Or at least not until second semester.

I’ve never had my schedule change significantly before in high school. I think that it did this year because of my electives. Besides the newsmagazine, they’re only a semester long and I guess they don’t take place during the same class periods, hence the changing of all of my other classes. This is also probably the only year so far that my schedule hasn’t been airtight. I know that it was last year because I really thought hard about if my schedule had to be the way it was. It was stuck(thanks honors math).

I feel it necessary to tell my readers that I didn’t try to switch out of AP Physics. I think that once I got my feelings out in the post “Scheduling;” I felt better about the situation as a whole. I know that I won’t take the AP exam for it if I don’t feel sure enough about it. I didn’t for AP Microeconomics. I know people who took that exam and did poorly on it. I was able to consider how badly I had done in that class(okay, I got a B, but the emotional experience of that class was very painful) and chose not to take it. It just didn’t come very naturally to me, didn’t really click, and being truthful; my teacher was not the best at explaining the concepts.

I’d like to tell my readers that AP Microeconomics is not for math people specifically. Teachers at my school said to take that class if you were good at math. It’s not actual math that is used; it is graphs. I hate graphs and I don’t understand them as well as I do words. Whenever my teacher would explain something, he’d draw a graph. I got more confused with every line. And I’m talking about literal lines here. But I’m taking AP Physics. I’m just hoping that it clicks with me better than AP Microeconomics did because that class had me feeling like an emotional train wreck.

My classes this year should be enjoyable for the most part, if not overwhelming, Three APs can apparently do that to a person, considering how my counselor tried to talk me down to only two of them multiple times last year. For the most part, I know my teachers. There are nine listed on my schedule for various reasons, but out of them I’ve already had five of them. Two I haven’t had personally, but they have been sponsors for a club that I’m in. One of them has an amazing reputation. Amazing as in my sister, who graduated high school in 2006, still wishes that she was able to have had him as a teacher. There’s only one whom I’m not even sure what she looks like. I guess that I’ll find out on the first day.

There are a couple of things that I’m sort of disappointed about with my schedule. My seminar teacher changed. We only see them about once a week, never really more often than that unless there’s some standardized testing going on. I’m not that attached to who mine was, but I was looking forward to having her as my teacher second semester in addition to having her as my seminar teacher. I was also kind of stunned to learn who my seminar teacher would be. One of my friends looked at my schedule and said that we have the same seminar class and I wasn’t surprised because I’m mostly sure it’s alphabetical by last name, but it wasn’t until a few minutes later that I saw who is the teacher. I think I’m cool with him right now, but I’m not exactly sure. The guy is passive aggressive in the way that if he’s stressed, he takes it out on people who aren’t even part of the situation. When I had him as my honors English teacher freshman year, it wasn’t until the end of the year that he really got like that. I’m just intimidated by most adults, if not all, so it’s just kind of my nature to fear them. I recognize that it isn’t a good thing, but I’m working on it and it is now better than it used to be when I was a freshman.

The other main thing that I’m disappointed about is that I don’t really have a lot of my good friends in any of my classes. For some people, we compared schedules and we had no classes together, not even lunch. The only class that I really seem to have friends in is AP Lang, which is kind of sad because I have to switch to a different class period of it for second semester. So even if I make new friends, I’ll still end up switching classes and will have to infiltrate a class that already has its own thing going on, its own flow. And I’ll have to make new friends. Making new friends is difficult when people know each other already. That’s where the cliquey-ness really gets going and trust me, my school is full of cliques. I’m not looking forward to having to go through that. And I really wish that someone I know(and actually like) would have my math class, too.

 

I Might Like to Have a Mentor

I want to have good people in my life. People who make me want to achieve more. Not for competition or to prove them wrong, but because they believe in me. I want to have people in my life who care about me and believe in my ability to succeed. I know that I’m going to do more in my life than exist in my suburban hometown. I believe in myself, but sometimes that isn’t enough. There’s something about it when someone who isn’t my friend or relative says that they think I’m smart or talented in some way.

I guess I’m sort of looking for a mentor. I’m embarrassed to say that. It’s not like I’m some shy young girl looking for someone to lead her in the right direction. No. I have strong opinions and while I do feel more shy in groups of people that I don’t know well, eventually I do become more comfortable with them; I just need some time. I actively participate in class discussions. I actually enjoy them. I am outspoken, but I do not always express my feelings in every situation the same way. I have friends who support me, which is great, but I feel like I want someone older, wiser maybe, to support me, too. I do not feel that I can be truly honest with my parents in the same way as I can be with my friends. We have differing views in many aspects and they just don’t see the world like as I do. They are not globally minded citizens. That is what I aspire to be.

I can survive on my own, but I feel as if I may be losing the chance to truly thrive. I know that this may seem like a girl who can’t cope on her own; let me tell you and make it clear that it’s not. I know that mentors exist for enough, if not plenty, of people for it not to be completely weird for me to feel this way. Anyway, it’s not like I woke up one morning thinking that I’d like a mentor. After agonizing and analyzing my feelings and emotions, I realized that a mentor fit the definition of what I want in my life. And then I tried to deny that, but it’s true. I think that I could benefit from the having the type of person that a mentor is in my life. I know I’ll be fine without one, but I also know that I wouldn’t lose out on anything by having one.

For the sake of details, I do know what kind of person that I’d like it to be. I would need the person to be intelligent, concerned with their community, at least somewhat interested in politics(U.S. and internationally, preferably with a liberal leaning worldview), globally minded, and kind(not just nice, genuinely kind, as I have finally been fortunate enough to learn the difference). I guess though are the traits I like in people in general, but if someone were to be my mentor; I would deem them necessary.

 

Scheduling

Summer’s end is too close. I am not ready to go back to school. My friends are not ready to go back to school. Most of all, I’m not ready to deal with my schedule or learning something that I don’t really care about.

Let me start off with math. My teacher from last year recommended me for honors pre-calculus. We have to get signatures for some of our classes at my school and math as a subject requires them. I had down regular pre-calculus on my schedule. I planned on taking three AP classes, add in honors math? No thank you. But she told me to do honors and that she would come back to my desk. We were in the second marking period at that time and I had gotten an A in the first one, so I understand her doing that. From about the point I got her signature; I knew once again that honors math was not in my future. Math is hard enough and the whole honors title is pointless for me since I’m a year further ahead in math than most of the people in my grade anyway.

For scheduling at my school, what we do is fill out a schedule on paper with the classes we wish to take for the next year and for any classes that require signatures from our current teachers, we get them that day. Our classes are shortened that day because we start and begin the day in this class called seminar. Basically that’s where we go on the first day of school for our official schedules and now our school is making us meet once a week there and it’s sort of how they gather us for things that pertain specifically to our grade. I think that it’s alphabetical, which is why we also go to that class on things like PSAT testing days. Our filled out schedules then get collected and are given to our counselors. On a later day, your English class will go to the library and everyone meets individually with their counselor and that’s where you say if you put down one class, but actually desperately want to take another. You can switch later in the year, but classes are on a first come, first serve basis.

One of the first things I did when I saw my counselor that day was make sure that I was only going to take regular pre-calculus. It wasn’t even just the sake of wanting a less challenging math class; I was afraid that it would make it impossible for me to take the other classes that I wished to pursue. Only two class periods of honors algebra 2 ran this year and knowing how many of my friends were deciding to switch to regular for this year, I knew that it could greatly affect my schedule. I figured my AP classes would probably run at least two class periods each, but I still wasn’t convinced there would be more than one period of AP Physics(which I plan to talk to my counselor about switching to a different AP science class, but more on that in a later paragraph). I’m also starting my first year on the school newsmagazine this school year and that class, for obvious reasons, only runs for one class period.

Last school year, my friend chose honors math over being able to take AP government. And I recently heard from someone I know who is a grade above me, that she was going to take most of the same classes that I have planned on, but she chose AP Physics over the newsmagazine. I don’t want some scheduling conflict with math to be the reason that I can’t take something I would actually enjoy learning.

I guess at this point I’ll say why I don’t want to do AP Physics and why I regret choosing it as my AP science class. I found out that even at universities where the average GPA of incoming students is about a B+, they won’t take less than a four on the AP exam. Every other AP class, they’re fine with a score of three, but not for AP Physics. I’m smart, so if I didn’t think that I would do well, I wouldn’t pay to take the AP exam. I want to avoid that possibility, though. My school also has AP Physics 2, which I’ll only be able to take as a senior, but I don’t want to take that class. I’m going to have to take an AP math class my senior year since I’m taking pre-calculus this year and I already know that I want to take two other AP classes, which leaves no room for it on my schedule. I refuse to take four AP classes because I value my sanity too much to do that to myself. I do want to say that I didn’t find out this score stuff until summer vacation, otherwise I would have saved myself from begging my counselor on scheduling day to switch it.

I don’t feel as strongly about my other classes, which is most likely because I want to take them. I might not end up with two of the electives I want, each of which are only a semester long, so they wouldn’t be taken simultaneously. I figure just because of how everything will figure out for scheduling and for the chance that they both run during the right class periods to fit into my schedule. Last school year, the only classes that had even the slightest possibility of switching times were my elective period and chemistry period. The only thing that ended up actually changing from first to second semester was my elective and that was only because each class was only one semester long.

The topic of scheduling is just really stressing me out. I don’t have much else to do except think about it. I get my schedule a week from tomorrow, so at least it’ll all be over then. I might not be able to get out of AP Physics, but I would like to thank everyone whom I have complained about it to for listening. I did check out the textbook already like I was told to when I got the summer homework packet, so if I can’t switch, then at least that wasn’t for nothing. I don’t really think that I’ll even switch unless the class that would replace it could be AP Chemistry. I don’t care much about biology or environmental science. Besides, my chemistry class from last year was extremely lacking in labs. We rarely did them or saw them done by our teacher. That’s a long story for another time. I’d like to be able to take a chemistry class where you actually see chemicals once in a while rather than constantly writing notes at a desk.