My First Roundtable

Cover Letter, Cycle 3, 1998

Carter Johnson

(See Cover Letter Guide, 1996)

Dear Parents, Teachers, Students, and Invited Guests,

Hello, my name is Carter Johnson. I am presenting this cover letter for my first roundtable under the domain of Recognizing Patterns and Making Connections. This domain is one of great relevance for it may be detrimental to one's well being to be unable to learn from one's mistakes. I liken the domain to something most parents try to teach their children from an early age - morals. Morals are in one definition a set of ethics, or unwritten rules that people follow in conjunction with common sense and critical thinking. Parents raise children to understand the difference between left from right, yes from no, right from wrong. Children are usually taught stealing is wrong, giving is righteous, and manners and respect are always a virtue of good standing among one's peers. In the same vein, pattern recognition is an aspect of human development that has to be learned, although is usually not taught. In my opinion the ability to make connections is something gained through trial and error, more often than being taught. Now Ill take some time to show what I've studied and how it connects to the domain of Recognizing Patterns and Making Connections.

The first class I will discuss is my Arts & Culture class. During this cycle we have explored, studied, and partaken in expressionist art. I have found that this type of art appears in many different forms and that it is commonly used as a method of gating an important point across. I would now like to look back at some of the things I did in class, including the final project.

When looking at expressionist art you have to look at its close ties with propaganda art. Both serve the same function of expressing views and ideals. However they differ in that expressionist art only shows the feelings of the artist themselves, while propaganda art is used to either better or worsen a party's political standing with the public it is trying to convince. One of the class assignments this cycle involved watching a propaganda video and analyzing propaganda art in another assignment. Both assignments gave us a rather insightful look at the uses and functionality of propaganda art. The video showed how propaganda was used in Nazi Europe against their supposed enemies, including the Poles, Jews, and Gypsies, among many others. One picture we studied was used during the time of Russia's great economic decline. The picture basically gave the message that Russia was in need of good leadership, and that the people were willing to listen to anyone that would speak. We clearly saw the political uses for expressionist art in those assignments.

On the fighter side of things, expressionist art can be used for simpler, non-political reasons. The final project required that I create a "being" that reflected who I was as an individual and reflect my personality traits. I painted a life size poster in addition to a three-dimensional element, a paper mache mask. The process began with a body outline, followed by adding the necessary colors in paint. I then created the mask with a balloon, glue, and strips of newspaper. The masks too were decorated with paint. When all the painting was done, The poster was hung in the hallway for all to see. 1, along with my classmates, put a great deal of effort into this project.
So how does this connect to the domain of Recognizing Patterns you ask? For starters, all the work received throughout the cycle was art related, in conjunction with material on propaganda users like the Soviets and Nazis. I saw the connection between them when they both used the art form to relate their beliefs and philosophies to the public. In addition to that, my study of propagandist art directly connected to my study of Hitler and Nazi Germany in Humanities class, which I will discuss a little later. In short, this last cycle's Arts & Culture class was interesting and insightful to say the least.

Humanities class took me to Europe during the time period of the 1920's to the 1940's where Hitler and his Nazi regime wreaked havoc on the western world. I had the opportunity to get an in depth look at Hitler's history as well as his way of thinking. I also examined WWII and the effects it had on the 12 million victims claimed in the Holocaust.

Adolf Hitler was an Austrian man born in 1889 and he was the fourth child born in a family of seven. His family members were prone to dying of disease; the first three children died of diphtheria; the fifth child died of measles. Only he and sister survived his family curse. His father died when he was only fourteen. His mother, then overprotective of her remaining family, spoiled Adolf and turned him into a "momma's boy." His mother died of cancer when he was eighteen. Hitler disagreed with her doctor, a Jewish man, over her treatment and blamed the doctor for her death.

Under close scrutiny one can already see how Hitler's upbringing shaped his personality. His frustrations as a youth manifested into his ideals and beliefs as a adult, resulting into an angry, hurtful monster looking to place the blame on someone for everything bad that occurred in his life.

In my studies of WWII I watched an epic film titled Holocaust that illustrated the story of a Jewish family in Nazi Europe. The movie told the horrible tale of Nazi tyranny and racial injustice in graphic detail. I could have never imagined the atrocities that took place, during that time, let alone the fact that they could be executed by human beings. While watching the movie, Video Logs for each section of the film were to be filled out, and each was to contain a brief summary of plot fines, character development, and historical relevance and understanding. I completed all of the required Video Logs.

Taking a closer look at the effects. of WWII in Europe, I was also required to read a book titled Friedrich. This short, but detailed story told by a German boy gives an in depth look at how Hitler's influence on European culture affected two families, and more closely, two best friends. The author, Hans Peter Richter talks about his experiences with his friend and how he had to go through the pain of seeing his friend's family suffer oppression. This book assignment required completion of Literature Logs for each corresponding section of the book that contained a short summary of story lines, and stated a clear understanding of the effects of the Nazi regime on Jewish culture.
The final project was a two part assignment. The first part presented me with the following quote: "Victimization and oppression are characteristics of life today as they were in Nazi Europe." My task was to explain my stand of agreement or disagreement with the statement and support my position with various pieces of evidence. In short, I did agree with the statement, demonstrating that victimization and oppression are aspects of modem culture, and will continue to exist in the future.

The second part of the final project gave me the opportunity to put my creativity to work as I had to create two stories. Each story was to be told from one of five perspectives; perpetrator, bystander, victim, rescuer, and resister. I chose to create stories for the roles of perpetrator and victim. I received credit for work done on the stories, as well as the assignment on my personal stand on victimization and oppression.

So many connections can be made from my study of Hitler and the Nazis. I quickly began to understand how his ideals were shaped from exploring his past and getting into his head. In my Arts & Culture class, my study of propaganda art directly relates to my study of Hitler. He used several different types of propaganda to lure the public into accepting the Nazi policies. Even though Hitler is dead now, his followers continue to exist to this very day. Organizations like the KKK hold similar beliefs in a master race. In addition to that, many of today's politicians use propaganda against one another to convince voters of the other's mediocrity or insufficiency.

As I learned more and more about Hitler and the Nazis, the more intrigued I became about them. Before this class I had very basic knowledge of WWII, and knew very little about Adolf Hitler. Now, looking back at what I've discovered, I think of Hitler as a genius, and a madman at the same time. It's amazing to me how this one man took his country from virtual ruins to an almost unstoppable force on a path to world domination. He was a ruthless, maniacal killer with leadership skills that, in my opinion, have yet to be surpassed. He ruled a small country responsible for the deaths of twelve million people, in the short span of less that a decade. Given Hitler's problematic background, I can't help but wonder if history would have been different. Would he have grown up to be so evil?

The last class I'll talk about is Math, Science & Technology (MST). This cycle's MST class focused on trigonometry. Trigonometry is useful in finding the area of a triangle - most notably right triangles. I spent this last cycle developing an understanding of area; how to find it and how to measure it. I'll spend some time now explaining some of the work I did.

Basic understanding of right triangles is essential if you are trying to find their area. All right triangles have a 90 degree angle. The angle across from the right angle is labeled as Theta and is represented by -0-. In addition to that, there are three sides on the triangle with the following labels: hypotenuse, opposite, and adjacent. The diagram below illustrates what I just explained.

One of the first things I did in class was create a Trig Table. The function of a Trig Table is a reference for finding the sine, cosine, and tangent of an angle. They are abbreviated as sin, cos, and tan, respectively. A Trig Table looks like this:

The numbers to the left represent the measurement of the angle adjacent to the right angle. The numbers in the columns on the right are the sines, cosines, and tangents of those angles. You can find those numbers with a calculator by pressing either the sin, cos, or tan keys, followed by the angle for -0- You can find those numbers manually as well. Here's an example: Let's say I wanted to find the sine of -0- in a right triangle, and -0- is 20 The hypotenuse equals 52 cm, the opposite side equals 17 cm. and the adjacent side equals 49 cm. To find the sine of -0I would have to divide the opposite side by the hypotenuse. The formula would look like this:
The formulas for cosine and tangent are as follows:
r Ck
There is another formula for finding the missing measurement of a side of a right triangle. This formula is referred to as the Pythagorean Theorem. The formula is a2 + b2= c2. "a" is the opposite side of the triangle. "b" is the adjacent side of the triangle. tic" is the hypotenuse. Provided with at least two of the three measurements you will be able to find the third using this formula. Here is an example: Suppose side "a" equals 5 and "b" equals 7. You can find "c" by adding the squares of 5 and 7, then finding the square root of "c."

The final project for MST was an exam in which all of the above formulas were to be put to use in an effort to solve various problems for area. Some problems asked to find the area of a triangle, while other problems asked me to find the sine, cosine, or tangent of -0-, In addition to that, some problems required using the Pythagorean Theorem to find the missing side of a triangle. There were four sections on the test, and I successfully passed each section and made the passing grade.

Among some of the patterns I found and connections I made during this cycle, the most apparent of them all was the pattern in the Trig Table. I quickly noticed that all the numbers under sine got larger as the angle got larger. The numbers under cosine get smaller as the angle gets larger. Tangent gets larger as the angle gets bigger as well. While learning all these various formulas and studying geometry I also made the connection that this type of math can be used for architecture and even art sculpture. Knowing how to find area, take measurements, and use these formulas to construct blueprints is important in that type of job. I, however, honestly can not see myself using this type of arithmetic later in fife, for architecture is not a field of work I want to go into.

The domain of Recognizing Patterns and Making Connections is probably of the most relevance among all of the domains practiced in this school. One's ability to learn from mistakes is a valuable one, given that any mistake in life can be considered an important lesson. As a combination of common sense and critical thinking, pattern recognition probably is the one single element of human development that can be considered the basis for all learning skills acquired throughout life.

Thank you for taking the time to read my cover letter.

Yours Truly,

Carter Johnson