Critical Thinking and Writing. Where do I even start to explain this rollercoaster of a class? Through the emotional ups and downs, the twists and turns, and the flash to get your picture taken, this class was sure a great ride. And what a better place to start than at the beginning.
Congratulations! You actually clicked continue reading, which means you are either my professor, Nicholas Leither, another student looking for ideas for your capstone project (turn back now, you won’t find any), a friend searching my name on Google, or one of this blog’s followers. So I gather around 1-10 people will stumble upon this and I base that off of the viewership stats of all the capstones projects — of the approximate 110 capstone projects posted by students in the past, only 15 have 10 or more views — so the likelihood that a good amount of will on the “Continue reading à“ after my boring generic intro is very unlikely.
Notwithstanding, I present to you my capstone project (I always wanted to use that word “notwithstanding” in a paper ever since I read A Christmas Carole by Charles Dickens — the word just seems very sophisticated)
Going into this class, I was very unenthusiastic due to my general dislike of English classes (long readings, critically analyzing those readings, and time consuming papers). However, Nick was a very engaging teacher and made the class extremely interesting. One of the first videos we watched in class was David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water”. I’ll just link it here to take up some space and make this post look longer because you have definitely already watched it already in another students project or during class.
“You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t.” This is probably is my favorite quote and biggest takeaway from this first video. Reaching a higher state of consciousness and awareness that enables you to view the world differently and see the value and possibilities in every unique situation, person, and thing you come across can be achieved through not operating in that “default mindset” the video talked about. In this new, elevated mindset, I set off to analyze and critically think about the topics discussed in this course.
One of the first things we discussed in this class was the unethical practices within factory farms. Nick shows us some pretty cruel videos of animals screaming with their tails being cut of, getting horribly beat with clubs from factory workers, or hanging upside-down squirming and bleeding to death after they were supposed to have been instantly killed by a blade. These images impelled me to stop eating meat. For my first essay, I wrote about whether it was possible to be an athlete and vegetarian here at Santa Clara University. For a period of a month, I ate like a vegetarian. This experience gave me a taste of what is was like to be a vegetarian and gave me insight into the challenges vegetarians face in college. I had fun with this essay because I was really researching the possibility of becoming a vegetarian myself within an academic paper. This had been a change in my life I had wanted to make for a while due to my dad’s vegetarian diet and my previous knowledge about factory farming. However, being a vegetarian got very boring, eating basically the same foods everyday on campus due to the lack of options within our dining hall.
I’m going to be totally honest hear I don’t remember much more of CTW I. I know we read Eating Animals by Jonathan Foer. The book was extremely well written and I enjoyed how Jonathan occasionally did really unique things within the text, such as have 5 pages full of “Speechlessness / Influence /” to represent the number of animals an average American ate in their lifetime. But besides reading Eating Animals and Nick’s book, Slant, I don’t remember what I wrote my papers on. Oh we also read, “Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace and now I remember what I wrote my other papers on. My next paper was on whether or not feel the public sentiment that fish don’t feel pain is contributing towards the unsustainable rate and unethically farming practices of the fishing industry. There was one other essay that I did but let’s move onto CTW II after this picture of some fish.
CTW II was where we started to read Columbine by Dave Cullen. This book was extremely crazy, sad, and eye opening. It raised greater questions like how much does the media control what we believe, what causes people to be violent, and does the mental illnesses system need to be reformed? The Columbine readings were long but I always wanted to keep reading, to acquire more information about the case, and to know how the story ends.
The essays I wrote in CTW II were very big topics, maybe too big. In the collaborative paper, we wrote about whether students around campus were aware about the harmful affects of meat, specifically hamburgers, on the environment. Honestly, I didn’t contribute much original content to this project and I told Nick that in my self-evaluation. However in my next paper, I did put more significant effort because I had chosen a topic I was somewhat interested in. I wrote about the rising CO2 levels due to the meat industry and how this is leading to increased temperatures on earth and the eventually destruction on earth. In my conclusion, I then proposed the solution that human race needs to expedite the colonization of mars and I analyzed the possibility of this actually occurring. I had lots of fun researching this topic because planetary colonization has been an interest on mine for some time now. In my last essay in CTW II, I analyzed the role desensitization plays within factory farm workers and the psychological desensitization of American youth through violence in media.
I learned a lot in this class and will definitely remember a great deal going into the future. The information I learned and insight I gained will help me become a more fully conscious and aware person.
Cullen, David. Columbine. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. Print.
Wallace, David Foster. “This Is Water.” YouTube. YouTube, 20 Nov. 2014. Web. 08 June 2016.