In Depth Night – Liam

In-Depth Night is kind of TALONS’ graduation. It isn’t really, of course – we still have another month together. But it’s our last major event for the year, the culmination of months of practice and study and anticipation. Once In-Depth is over, we’re back to normal class,  back to working and (in theory) studying. The happiness that all students feel as summer draws closer is tempered for us by the knowledge that another year of TALONS is ending, with all the sadness, melancholy, and indeed, relief, which that knowledge brings.

But as much as In-Depth is an ending, that’s not what it is about. It is a celebration of what we have accomplished over the course of the last five months. More than than that, it’s a recognition of all that we have been through in TALONS, all we have shared and experienced together. I don’t think words do it justice – we who were there, who spent months preparing for that night, are the only ones who can really understand what it meant. But for the many people who see us from afar, who have not had the opportunity to participate in TALONS, I’d like to share a few pictures of that night, which I think represent the mood and feel rather well.

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Sustainability in action

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And that was it. It was over. The grade 9s have another year to look forward to. The grade 10s can only look back wistfully, remembering the times over the last few years. In-Depth Night is really a very special time, and all the more so in hindsight. Personally, I didn’t realize at the time how significant it was, and it was only later that it hit me. ‘Wow’, I thought. ‘I will never get to do that again.’ It’s a realization, I think, that becomes more meaningful with time.

Of course most of the grade 10s will be at In-Depth next year, but this time we’ll be on the outside looking in, rather than the other way around. I’m trying not to let this post dissolve into a reflection on what life will be like after leaving TALONS, but In-Depth night is so caught up in that idea of a celebration of another year that it’s difficult to separate the two.

Let me recede, then, from this position. There will likely be a few more reflections on the end of TALONS in the weeks to come. I would rather mention the successes we had last Monday.  Everyone who performed onstage – you were amazing. Getting up in front of that crowd could not have been easy, yet you did it and you all did so brilliantly. For those who did not perform onstage, your achievement is no less great simply for being on the ground. Every person presented what they have been working on in the way they thought best, and we all had things to teach and to show the people who visited us.

And what would In-Depth Night be without honouring the achievements of the people involved? Congratulations Megan Edmunds, for working hard enough to earn the Grade 9 Academic Award. Daniel Luo, Iris Hung, and Rebecca MacDonald, recipients of the TALONS spirit award, I think we are all proud to know you and you most certainly deserved to be recognized for your spirit and dedication to this program.

But perhaps the most important recognition was the one we students gave to Ms. Mulder and Mr. Jackson. TALONS would not be possible without you, and every word in our speeches was true. Any worldwide readers of this blog, if ever you think about the awesomeness of TALONS (which I’m sure you all do), make sure the credit goes to our amazing teachers.

We closed up the evening with a song, and I will leave you with this now. Cute and perhaps silly it may be, but…well, take it for what you will. It was our gift to our teachers, and it means something to all of us.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFKEXiPQaqs&w=640&h=390]

From the Talons Room: Discussion and Rebellion – Liam

Since we began our new semester two weeks ago, the Talons have been eagerly throwing themselves into the second part of the school year. We begin with Science and Socials, studying both the geography of our world and, supposedly, the Red River Rebellion.

In Science, we are doing things in a typically TALONS way – we are teaching ourselves. The grade 10s are each responsible for teaching a section of the unit they are studying, creating their own lesson plans, assignments, and quizzes, as well as actually teaching the subject itself. They say that a person learns best when teaching others, and that past few weeks have proved that true, as the students have reached a level of understanding about the subject the were teaching that they would likely not have reached otherwise. It is also a part of the TALONS dogma of leadership and autonomy – as students, this self-teaching gives us a chance to take a leading role in our own studies, as well as possibly giving us a feeling for what is like to teach a group of unruly students.

In Socials, the recent events in Egypt has given us a perfect current events backdrop for the study of the Red River Rebellion. We spent last week discussing and blogging and commenting and reflecting on the situation in Egypt and the media’s role in passing the information on to us. I won’t talk longer about what we did – I will let people’s posts speak for themselves.

Megan reflects on how the Age of Information has given people a chance to change the world, and her own role in the quickly changing landscape:

For on the other side of the world I am still sitting here, typing away on my keyboard, trying to keep up in a quickly moving world through the only way I know how. Words spill through my fingers into sentences that might be read, or might not, and form stories that might mean something, one day. It’s satisfying; in a sense. But what do I know? I am merely a child in this age of information, of stories and knowledge available at our every whim, to feed our every need, and every desire. I pour my two cents into it all, but I can see it tumble into cyberspace, and I wonder where it will end up. I wonder if it will ever end up anywhere, at all.

Sepehr’s post on how it is important to note the relative evils between different leaders, and the comment storm that grew out of it:

Mubarak and his regime are not bloodthirsty killers like Khomeini, Hitler, and Stalin! They do not murder, torture, or “effectively and systematically take steps to eliminate an entire population”(critics of Fox News) like the Nazis. As Mr. Jackson said, we can’t compare any group to the Nazis. Mubarak has shut off the Internet of the country in fear of attack from USA or other Middle Eastern countries. Guess that backfired on him. The Egyptian people are treating this situation like the Persian people in the recent Iranian revolution. The Persians tore apart their 3000-year old monarchy for a series of tyrannical Mullahs who killed in the name of God. I truly hope the Egyptians do not share the fate of the Persians.

Richard speaks about how simple economics means that the media will tell us what we want to hear:

So looking at it in a more reasonable way, as what it truly is, the responsibility of such company, is to get larger amounts of hits, viewership, and subscriptions. So, what the company’s responsibility is to tell or say to the public what the majority of the public wants to hear, see, or read about. Also, on the same side the majority of the public is about, not to present news objectively, or to challenge views, because people want to feel that their views are right. People want to be right, and that is true and prevalent in everyone, does anyone want to be wrong?

And finally, Liam writes a lengthy post on the absolute nature of truth, which leads to some heated debate in the comments section:

It is important, then, to look past the complexities of language when discovering the truth. By debating the meaning of the word ’sound’ in the tree question above, as many do when answering this question, you are missing the philosophical point – that of whether there is a reality independent of perception. If there is, it means that all questions have an answer, and that it is theoretically possible to end all arguments. If not, then everything is open to debate, and nothing is as it seems.

Then this week, we moved onto the actual Socials curriculum. As stated, we are studying the Red River Rebellion – the resistance of the Metis people, led by Louis Riel, against the Canadian government, which eventually lead to the creation of the modern-day province of Manitoba. Again, the Talons have been writing their own takes on the subject.

Veronica talks about how it got started and why the Metis felt the need to resist:

There were primarily three sides that contributed to the Red River Rebellion – the French speaking group, the Metis, the Canadian government, and the Hudson’s Bay Company.It all started when the Canadian government bought “Rupert’s Land” from the once-powerful Hudson’s Bay Company in 1869. The Bay’s sales were declining, and they probably needed the money from the Canadian government.Right after that, the Canadian government appointed an English-speaking governor for the newly-bought Rupert’s Land. The guy was named William McDougall. Alright, so before the land was officially Canada’s, McDougall decided that it would be a good idea to send out surveyors to plot the land. Yup, that’s when the Metis got mad.Wouldn’t you be irked too, if some guys just waltzed in the territory that you’ve been living in for hundreds of years? Well, the Metis probably were. They basically prevented the surveyors from coming into their land, which is totally fair in my opinion.

And Kraemer explains how the Red River Rebellion is representative of our Canadian psyche:

The people of Red River had every reason to lash out, violently against the Canadian government that was threatening them, but they didn’t. Instead, they formed their own provisional government, peacefully, so that they could negotiate properly with the government of Canada. Now, I don’t really need to point out that people have gone charging at the enemy for far fewer reasons than their freedoms being taken over. The Americans launched into bloody revolution even though they were being treated much better by the British compared to how the Canadians would have treated the “half-breeds”, natives and french-speaking people living in Red River.

This is but a small part of the wealth of the discussion the Talons have been having. They are by no means over – instead, they are just beginning. In groups, our current project is to tell the story of the Red River Rebellion in four stages of the crisis. Such vague instructions are common to us in TALONS – they’re simply what we do. We use our creativity to understand and to explain our world, in whatever way we can, whether that means through writing, music, or art.

And so ends another week of TALONS!