A Review of Relevant Articles on Teaching Practices

Image credits to The Freire Project

  • Trigwell, Keith, Martin, Elaine, Benjamin, Joan & Prosser, Michael (n.d.) Scholarship of Teaching: A Model. The Australian Scholarship in Teaching Project. Retrieved from www.clt.uts.edu.au This paper is a study of the merits of scholarly teaching in universities. The authors believe that the banking method of education no longer contributes to the learning of post-secondary students, considering the maturation of their cognitive capacities and faculties for learning. The authors believe that through providing a transparent medium to transmit how learning is made possible, educators could gain insights and modify their teaching strategies in order to achieve not only learning, but its useful application to everyday life. Through the praxis method, action-reflection-action, relevant aspects of the subject matter are further explored, and the students could gain fruitful experiences in the process of reflection, inquiry, evaluation, documentation, and communication.

    I share the authors’ belief in this paradigm. A student must not be regarded as a mere vessel for which information and ideas are conveyed – but rather, as a being with an advanced cognition and critical thinking skills. I believe that a student should be allowed to determine the purpose of his/her subject area and become an active participant in the development of the lesson, rather than a mere recipient of knowledge. However, it is also necessary for the teacher to be equipped with various theoretical perspectives of the subject matter that he/she is teaching. He/she must also possess an open mind for him/her to effectively facilitate the flow of discussion in class.
    For scholarly teaching to succeed, one must consider not only the information, but the implication of such to other disciplines, the teaching approach adopted, and the way concrete facts are communicated.
    Nonetheless, the study was yet inconclusive. Thus, the focus of continuing research must go along with evaluating teaching outcomes and the short-term and long-term impact of scholarly teaching on the students’ learning.

    White, Connie. (18 September 2007). Technology and Best Teaching Practices. Lakeview Academy. Accessed 20 January 2010 from www.aategroup.wikispaces.com 

    The paper talked about the “Ten Best Teaching Practices” by Donna Walker Tileston and how technology could be harnessed in collaboration with these teaching practices in order to maximize learning. Like the first article, this paper reveals that conceptual learning has been long gone and that students are no longer benefiting from rote memorizations of time, dates, and places, all of which do not relate to their everyday lives. White (2007) added that re-teaching should be done in the preferred modality of the learner — that is, in the modern times, through the use of information technology.
    The approaches that the author has expounded upon may be applicable for elementary and high school students, whose attention spans cannot hold so much lecture and discussion for subjects that they may not have sufficient interest in, particularly in the areas of literature or history. However, I believe that there is a need to re-examine the method in the context of university learning, as the use of information technology may tend to limit interactive person to person spheres, where experiential learning takes place, and where students get to become active participants in the development of the subject being discussed.
    It is perhaps already high time for educators to explore the facilities of e-learning and strive to replicate what has been achieved by online games that receive the dedication and commitment of several students. Though this may not be an easy feat, a further analysis of the reasons why children become hooked on online games could be done and the resultant principles used in the practice of teaching. Through the purposeful combination of work and play, children would gain further insights on the subject area being taught, which would probably benefit them in the long-term and not just on the coming exams.

    Thomas, Carolyn M. & Thomas, Matthew A.M. (2009) Early Childhood Care and Education in Zambia: An Integral Part of Educational Provision? Early Childhood Care and Education: Worldwide Challenges and Progresses, Volume 11. Accessed 20 January 2010 from www.tc.columbia.edu

    The paper talked about the “ironic adoption” of the global pursuit of Education for All of the Zambian government, which incorporates Early Childhood Care and Education for pre-primary school students in the face of gross budgetary deficits in providing accessible and quality education for those in elementary and high school. The authors maintained that Zambia should not have embraced the early childhood education reform movement without the necessary evaluation of the current educational provision to which it is already committed.

    While this is true, I believe that the paper has neglected to consider that the adoption of the ECCE program in Zambia is in fact not the problem. Rather, the issue lies in the lack of state’s commitment to uphold the quality of education for the Zambians. It is rather unfortunate that the Zambian children would not be able to enjoy pre-primary education because of budgetary deficits when several pedagogical methods and teaching strategies could have made pre-school education an enjoyable and rewarding learning experience for Zambian children of pre-school age without necessarily incurring the “exorbitant cost of education.”

    I believe that the authors based their assumptions on certain measurable indicators that are used in other progressive nations and not within the context of Zambian communities. I sought to include a review of this article even if it did not directly discuss teaching practices in order to emphasize the significance of such pedagogical methods in communities with poor resource conditions. Indeed, pre-school education could be undertaken with the community’s involvement with only a meager amount of assistance from the national government. Communities could be able to adopt a pre-school and participate in the decision-making, administration, and employment of teachers in their own community. Apart from this, the teaching strategies need not be based on Western methods, but rather on traditional and indigenous practices, using native languages to maximize learning on the part of the children. Pedagogical practices are a crucial part of the students’ learning — one that does not need expensive budgets but creativity and resourcefulness on the part of the educator and the promotion of joint responsibility between the government and the people. In this way, Zambia would not have to deprive itself of the right to Early Childhood Care and Education and suffer the dire consequences of ignorance.

    Drummond, Tom. (2002). A Brief Summary of the Best Practices in Teaching: Intended to Challenge the Professional Development of All Teachers. Accessed 20 January 2010 from www.webshares.northseattle.edu

    Drummond (2002) summarized the best teaching practices for university learners in this paper. The best teaching practices include lecture practices, group discussions, thoughtful questions, reflective responses to learners, rewarding learners’ participation, active learning strategies, cooperative group assignments, establishing goals to grade connections, modeling, double loop feedback, and fostering learners’ responsibility.

    Like the previous articles, Drummond espoused that the best learning method is one that creates a healthy sense of atmosphere of communication and interaction among the learners and the educator. Apart from this, Drummond further emphasized the need to foster the learner’s responsibility in order to make him/her understand that his/her personal development would be the prime benefactor of the subject matter being discussed.

    As a future educator, I believe that I must be able to gain full cognizance — not only of the subjects that I would be teaching but also the methods for which ideas and knowledge would be best conveyed. After all, the goal of education is not just to merely transmit knowledge but also to impart to the learners a sense of responsibility for the body of knowledge that has been obtained. Through the aforementioned teaching methods, the learners would become the central character of the teacher-student relationship instead of the educator. In this way, there would be an active pursuit of knowledge and meanings could be ascribed to relevant themes and concepts. Hence, these relevant themes and concepts would not be treated as mere pieces of information to be placed in one’s memory but as a vital piece of wisdom that is inculcated on one’s understanding and awareness. Educators have a big responsibility in the molding of the consciousness of youth. Because of this, they must be able to formulate innovative and critical strategies directed toward human development and personal growth.

    References 

    Drummond, Tom. (2002). A brief summary of the best practices in teaching: intended to challenge the professional development of all teachers. Retrieved January 20, 2010 from http://www.webshares.northseattle.edu

    Thomas, Carolyn M. & Thomas, Matthew A.M. (2009). Early childhood care and education in Zambia: An integral part of educational provision? Early Childhood Care and Education: Worldwide Challenges and Progresses, Volume 11. Retrieved January 20, 2010 from http://www.tc.columbia.edu

    Trigwell, Keith, Martin, Elaine, Benjamin, Joan & Prosser, Michael (n.d.) Scholarship of teaching: A model. The Australian Scholarship in Teaching Project. Retrieved January 20, 2010 from http://www.clt.uts.edu.au

    White, Connie. (18 September 2007). Technology and Best Teaching Practices. Lakeview Academy. Retrieved January 20, 2010 from http://www.aategroup.wikispaces.com

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The Treaty of Versailles and its Inevitable Results

German students protest against the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1932. Reaction to the treaty after World War I marked the beginning of modern historical revisionism. Credits to Getty Images and Cristen Conger

            “Are ideals confined to this deformed experiment upon a noble purpose, tainted, as it is, with bargains and tied to a peace treaty which might have been disposed of long ago to the great benefit of the world if it had not been compelled to carry this rider on its back? (Henry Cabot Lodge, 1919)

Indeed, this was an apt description of the parodies of the peace treaty of Versaillesafter the First World War. While powerful nations such as Britain, France, Italy, the United States of America, and Germany sought to establish a treaty that would finally bring peace to the war-torn countries of Europe, each force was still subdivided by vested interests that have no direct intimation to the pursuit of peace. Hence, the treaty itself became a testament of conflicting interests – of each nation’s effort of trying to outmaneuver each other from gaining much. However, the Treaty of Versailles carried the weight of a uniform goal: to crippleGermanyto the point where it could no longer summon the courage and capacity to become a military threat among the nations of the world. Thus, in this pursuit of peace and justice, the offending nation has to be condemned; one has to bear the guilt of atrocities, and pay for war reparations. Instead of working on common avenues of peace, the leaders of the nations worked on ensuring that their respective interests as dominant forces of the world were well represented.

For George Clemencau ofFrance, the crippling of Germany’s capacity to wage another military exercise is of prime importance. Thus,FrancewantedGermanyto exhaust all of its resources into war reparations.Francedemanded for more aggressive measures for support than any other countries involved in the treaty. Clemencau wished to regain the Alsace-Lorraine territory which Germany has taken control after the Franco-Russian War of 1871. This was vital forFrance; Alsace-Lorraine is wealthy and highly-industrialized. It would undeniably strengthenFrance’s force as a country in Europe and significantly reduceGermany.Francelikewise demanded to separate the Rhineland and Ruhr fromGermany, thereby diffusing forces into small partitions which later on would be impossible to wield for invasion and domination.

Yet, according to Trachtenberg (1999), the demands of Francehave far deeper subtexts if taken into account the strengthening of alliance between Britainand the United States of America. These demands were actually not geared to establish French superiority over Germany, but rather to work out arrangements that would enable them to deal with their great neighbor across the Rhine on a more equal basis (Trachtenberg, 1999). While it may be unacceptable or even border to being preposterous to suppose thatFrance was seeking an alliance withGermany after the ravages that has been committed on French soil, an exploration of such possibilities may be needed in order to understandFrance’s political stance in the face of the Treaty of Versailles.

David Lloyd George ofGreat Britainhowever, has his own personal beliefs aboutGermany(Boemeke, 1998). As a politician, he knew that he must reflect his countrymen’s clamor for justice againstGermany. However, he also knew that he must be able to instigate measures to curtail the ascent of Marxist thoughts inRussia– a greater and more powerful threat to the stability of his nations and to other European countries as well. He wanted to utilizeGermanyas a pawn that could prevent the spread of communism. Because of this, while he spearheaded the writing of the treaty, he likewise wanted to ensure thatGermany’s forces would only be weakened and not totally supplanted. Hence, he supported reparations but to a significantly lesser extent thanFrance. He also wanted to make sure thatFrancewould not be able to gain ascendancy as a powerful force in Europe out of the gains thatFrancewould be getting fromGermanyfor war reparations.

Britaindemanded the control ofGermany’s African colonies as war reparation – a stark contradiction toFrance’s equally ambitious demands. By strategically cripplingGermanywith its colonies, it would cease to be a military threat. Yet, it would retain its capacity to bounce back and accomplish significant economic gains for itself. In this manner, Lloyd George would be preventing the institution of another conflict byGermanyand at the same time hinderingFrancefrom gaining dominance over the countries inEurope.

United States of AmericaPresident Woodrow Wilson likewise played a significant role – not only in the Treaty of Versailles but also to the immediate aftermath of war – of Germany’s “inconceivable” defeat and the push for peace talks and settlements. Wilsonsubmitted his “Fourteen Points” and urged for the establishment of League of Nations, an assembly that would address future conflicts between countries in order to prevent another war from happening again. Like Lloyd George,Wilson did not want to drastically crippleGermany for fear of French domination. He also wanted to continue the states’ trading relations withGermany and prevent the spread of Russian Bolshevism to countries that could wield the necessary force to uphold it – the most notable of which wasGermany.

At this period,Italyentered the Treaty in order to claim control overFiume, as its due reparation for joining the war and fighting with the Allied Forces. ThoughItalydid not have a significant contribution to the waging of war compared toFrance,Great Britainand theUnited States, the Italian government’s failure to obtain Fiume led to various struggle in the country, and eventually to the taking control ofItalyby Benito Mussolini.

Germany, however, insulted with the alleged violation of its honor under the Treaty of Versailles.Germanywas forced to sign and acquiesce to the severe conditions in exchange of freedom from foreign dominance.Germanysuffered much loss for its acquiescence, and the people felt betrayed by President Wilson of theUnited States. The supposedly “peace settlement” was transformed into a rash dictate in the economic, social and political policies ofGermany. Indeed,Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” became only applicable to the right of countries to self-determination – to the point of weakeningGermanyand its former allies.

It was said that this fury led to the establishment of Nazi rule inGermany(Trachtenberg, 1999).Germany’s oppression in the face of the unjust conditions provided by the Treaty became a powerful political propaganda that fueled Hitler’s ascendancy asGermany’s despotic ruler.

Historians believed that such conflicts that ultimately led to the Second World War may have been prevented if only Britain and America negotiated a formal military alliance with France, instead of instituting measures to thwart their perceived “France’s ambitions to gain dominance in the entire Europe” (Trachtenberg, 1999). Justice may have been fairly delivered if not one country was condemned and tried for a previously decided fate. WhileGermanyhas played a significant contribution to the ravages of war, it was fueled by other nations as well, which became parties to the prolongation of conflict and further atrocities. Thus, the settlement should have been based upon the principle of “equality and community of sacrifice” (Trachtenberg, 1999) – a common effort of reconstruction, founded upon the true essence of peace and restoration.

References

Boemeke, Manfred, Feldman, Gerald and Glaser, Elisabeth. The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment after 75 Years.Cambridge: German History Institute, Washington and CambridgeUniversityPress, 1998.

Duffy, Michael. Henry Cabot lodge on the League of Nations, 12 August 1919. 22 August 2009. Accessed 25 January 2010 fro www.firstworldwar.com

The Avalon Project. The Versailles Treaty, June 28, 1919.YaleLawSchool: Lillian Goldman Law Library. 2008. Accessed 25 January 2010 from www.avalon.law.yale.edu

The Treaty of Versailles.ColbyCollege. (n.d.) Accessed 25 January 2010 from www.colby.edu

The Treaty of Versailles. History Learning Site (n.d.) Accessed 25 January 2010 from www.historylearningsite.co.uk

Trachtenberg, Marc. Versailles Revisited.University ofPennsylvania. 27 December 1999

 

“To Kill a Mockingbird” and Empathy

A scene from the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" featuring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Mary Badham as Scout

“You never really understand a person…until you climb into his shoes and walk around it.” This endearing line from the famous literary figure Atticus Finch of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird became the central theme of the novel – marking the Maycomb society’s refusal to understand Boo Radley and Tom Robinson as a tantamount equivalent to the people’s adamant clinging to their own prejudicial notions that rest on a standard of morality that was as superficial as skin color.

This was the main core of Christian teaching. Jesus Christ has perceived beyond the conventions of morality in the early society in order to deliver the good news – regardless of the people’s gender and social status. He became the hero of the widows, those who were afflicted with illnesses, those people who were regarded as “sinners,” and like a shepherd, managed to rescue His lost flock – in spite of the stigma presented by the culture and tradition. Indeed, in the beginning it has been proclaimed:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27, New International Version)

Such statement did not delineate creation according to the boundaries of skin color and ethnicity, it is only with humanity’s folly did the world succumb into such divisions. In this context, we are taught to accept a person and look at him/ her through the lens of his/ her own perspectives. In doing that we would be able to learn the gift of empathy and truly understand – and accept.

This is difficult to achieve, because like theMaycombCounty, our society is racked by its own share of opinions and self-righteousness. Even the level-headed and principled Atticus Finch had to face the people’s gross assumptions and judgments for serving Tom Robinson’s defense counsel. Yet, in truly getting to know the people and looking at things in their own point of view, this feat is not inconceivable. For it is stated:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, New International Version)

In adopting this framework, it would not be difficult for the people to understand one another, for they will no longer be passing judgment against each other. They would gain cognizance that each person has inherent worth and dignity and like them, each possesses his/ her own set of philosophies and motivations that are not very different to the ones in their possession.

Indeed, Jem had to overcome this difficulty in his reading episodes with Mrs. Dubose. At this time, Jem and Scout were already dealing with the social stigma brought by their father’s siding with Tom Robinson, and in today’s context, one could easily sympathize with Jem’s anger.   After all, Mrs. Dubose was not a lovable character. Initially, Jem could not see the reason why he has to do goodness for a lady who seemed bent with hatred and bitterness, and who has openly insulted his father for taking up Tom Robinson’s case. Up to Mrs. Dubose’s death, it was made clear that Jem has been doing this, only on the virtue of following Atticus’ orders. However, Jem gradually came to understand the source of that hatred and bitterness, and while he was unable to do anything about it, to relieve the old lady of her anger until the last few moments of her death, the experience made him cognizant of the real purpose why Atticus has ordered him to read for Mrs. Dubose every afternoon. Getting to understand Mrs. Dubose made all the difference.

 References

—- “Being Atticus Finch: The Professional Role of Empathy in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’” Harvard Law Review, 117, no. 5. (March 2004). Accessed 27 January 2010 from www.jstor.org.

Esperon, Cheri. “Discrimination and Stereotypes in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’” Associated Content. (16 October 2005). Accessed 27 January 2010 from www.associatedcontent.com

Holcomb, Mark. “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Film Quarterly. Vol. 55 No. 4.University of CaliforniaPress. (2002). Accessed 27 January 2010 from www.jstor.org

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. 1963

Sally. “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The Bible Network Blogs. (13 September 2008). Accessed 27 January 2010 from www.forum.bible.org

Shields, Charles J. Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee.New York: Henry Holt. 2006

 

How Etruscan Art Shaped the Roman Identity

Baule earring, 6th century B.C., Etruscan, Gold and enamel (1994.374). Image credits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The development of the arts of the great Roman civilization owed much influence from the early Etruscan arts and later on to the Greek Hellenistic culture. It should be no wonder – considering the documented records of exchanges between these early civilizations and the almost similar forms of mythology and philosophy that evolved from the events at that era.

The Etruscans were the dominant culture in the Italian peninsula, prior to Roman domination. As the Etruscans became part of the Roman culture, the latter adopted the Etruscans love for Greek arts and architecture. This was manifested through the reviving motifs and elements of Athenian arts and architecture at the time when Rome flourished into a grand republic and empire. The influence of Etruscan art could be further manifested in the Roman temple architecture, portraiture and wall painting (Terras, 1997).

While several may contend that the similarities of the arts among the ancient societies are only heightened through their perceived differences and the aggression of Rome, and that as Plutarch may agree, that “Rome neither had nor even knew of these refined things, nor was there in the city any love of what was charming and elegant; rather, it was full of barbaric weapons and bloody spoils” (Plutarch, 2A.D.), one could not deny that with all of Rome’s “barbaric” and egocentric qualities, it became capable to embrace the refineries of its invaded culture, and perceive the same aesthetic qualities of artwork in the same manner, which their makers may have perceived them.

Art reflects the character of the culture and the people in a given era. In the Roman context, art became not just an avenue for bringing together the richness of the influences brought by different cultures. Rather, it succeeded in becoming a vessel of Western civilization, brought forth by the forerunner or modern government and society: the Republic of Rome.

References

—- (1996). The Bulfinch Guide to Art History: A Comprehensive Survey and Dictionary of Western Art and Architecture.Boston: Little Brown & Co.

Terras, Melissa M. (18 April 1997). Greek Art and Republican Rome. Accessed 27 January 2010 from www.hatii.arts.gla.ac.uk

MAKING HEAVEN, HELL, AND WHAT’S-IN-BETWEEN A MOMENT: An Analysis of Filipino Art

Victorio Edades, "The Builders"

“The death of an artist is too high a price to pay for the birth of a revolutionary, even when the revolution seems to make more sense than ever before.”

 –     Andrew Sarris

Art is commonly known as the depiction of human expressions – of making metaphysical qualities of the beautiful and the ugly, tangible to the senses. A painting, for instance, is like a frozen picture that allows its viewers to peek into its painter’s soul – to celebrate with his happiness or feel the depths of his anguish. Nonetheless, an artwork is also its creator’s mask – an intricate façade of the feelings that he want to convey, of expressions and messages that he wants his viewing public to learn and accept, of emotions that he does not necessarily own.

The evolution of visual arts in the Philippines– as presented in the text has been deeply influenced by the era that the country has gone through. The Spaniards era had alienated the struggles of the poor Katipuneros such as Ka Andres from the battles of the rich illustrados such as Dr. Rizal. This alienation confined art into a specific social stratum. Juan Luna’s Spoliarium may have awed the world, but it remained a very remote vision to an ordinary Indio. It is only when the Americans started to commercialize and massify visual arts that Filipinos came in contact with the messages from the drawings and sculptures.

Fernando Amorsolo, "Cooking the Noon-Day Meal"

The paper has centered its discussion in the changing perspective on visual arts in the American and contemporary periods in the country. According to the paper, classicism as a style in painting was borne from an artist’s portrayal of an ordinary rural life in the Philippine landscape. Fernando Amorsolo has so ingeniously painted the Filipinos as hardworking citizens, stooped in the rice fields under the intense heat of the sun, yet optimistic and happy. His landscapes were bathed with light – where the faces of Filipino women celebrate the uniqueness of their native features. It is thus not unreasonable to suppose that this radiance on his paintings was the main reason why he had a “long artistic career spanning more than half a century.” Truly, Fernando Amorsolo has opened a new frontier for aspiring Filipino artists, who have eventually adopted his style and painted a heavenly realm of the Filipino people.

This artistic movement has been somewhat threatened if not shattered by the emergence of modernism. For Victorio Edades, Carlos “Botong” Francisco, Galo B. Ocampo and their successors, the real expressions of Filipino sentiments and cultures are not the Amorsolo’s lighted landscapes and smiling faces – though Filipinos value hard work, they are not always smiling under the heat of the sun… they are a working class people, who get dirty with sweat and grime, who are oppressed by various regimes, and who are victims of the hell of atrocities because of the war.

It is in this context that we can see how Filipino art evokes extreme emotions that came from the very artists’ portrayal of his self and his beliefs. While we would believe that Amorsolo’s utopia of the Filipino landscape is far from the real experiences of the Filipinos that time, we could still not deny that such depictions of the countryside gave its people some hope… that through war and sickness and deaths, a world with peace and harmony could be created; people’s hard work in the rice fields would be rewarded by a bountiful harvest, and Filipinas would continue to celebrate their uniqueness from their other Malayan counterparts. As one of the precursors of Philippine art, Amorsolo was able to paint a bright future not only for the Filipino artists but for the people as well. I do not know whether this was Amorsolo’s real motives or whether the rumors that he has succumbed to commercialization were true. Nonetheless, an undeniable fact remains – that he is still one of the most important and influential artists of our time.

On the other hand, the distortions – though they may depict hopelessness and angst, became more-or-less accurate expressions of the Filipino sentiments particularly during the onset of the war and during the American and Japanese occupation. These modernist paintings have become a wake-up call to the Filipino people – a slap on their moral consciousness, and a rebuke to their apathy. The modernist paintings may have lacked the call for hope and optimism that the classicist paintings convey, but it undeniably starkly illustrates the reality of a working class’ life.

This scenario was also repeated in the evolution of Filipino sculpting and printmaking. Classicists who uphold standard, aesthetics and beauty would always be accompanied by modernists who show raw emotions and uphold reality – often in its most painstaking form. Nonetheless, they have both succeeded in capturing the emotions that they want the public to feel… They have both succeeded in creating a “moment” – a still-illustration of the heaven that they want to reach and the hell that they want to overcome.

This, for me, counts as the most important achievement of Filipino art.

Casablanca, All About Eve and Citizen Kane: A Comparative Film Analysis

image credits to IMDB

Casablanca is a 1942 film set against the backdrop of a chic gambling den and nightclub owned by the cynical Rick Blaine. The atmosphere of the club attracts a variety of clients – characters that became accurate representations of the people in that era. The movie’s lighting was set in high contrast – in order to powerfully depict scenes and set the theme, in accordance to the socio-political events at that time. While All about Eve (1950) maximized the use of lighting effect in order to reveal the audience the entirety of what was happening, Casablanca utilized deliberate lighting – to partially obscure certain incidents and to give the movie the necessary intensity as it progressed. This inventive technique was labeled as film noir, and though several may not agree on classifying Casablanca as a film noir, one could not deny of how the creative use of lighting and shadow further illuminated the course of events in the movie.

Citizen Kane (1941) achieved much acclaim for its lighting technique and was credited as the first film noir. But unlike Citizen Kane, Casablanca did not just use lighting to depict climactic events and highlight the film’s development. All throughout the movie, Casablanca presented an overall dark feel – thereby giving the audience a feeling that something was hidden from them. This effect was credited to Casablanca’s cinematographer Arthur Edeson whose work in the Maltese Falcon (1941) provided much influence to the lighting effects used in Casablanca.

image credits to AFI 100 years100movies

While Citizen Kane (1941) aptly utilized lighting in order to present certain dark and pessimistic aura and appearances of human nature, Casablanca (1942) seemed to have not used this technique. Casablanca did not center its lighting on the plot and key themes – but merely to present an eerie atmosphere – a perfect venue for such characters, who indulge in the dark for the fear of the society – particularly the government’s suspicions. This transformed Casablanca’s cinematography from being a mere lighting and sound technique into an artistic tool. The technique was characterized by low key lighting and stark contrast in order to reflect each character’s toiling for liberty, against danger – both personal and societal, and to obscure their illegal actions. This atmosphere was evidently different from the cinematographic effects in the movie All About Eve. Though All About Eve did not present much socio-political struggle in order to require such mode of lighting, the movie nonetheless depicted Eve Harrington’s cunning exploits in the light – enabling the audience to take a full view of how the seemingly harmless Ms. Eve reveal her true self in the course of the movie. The lighting seemed to have illuminated Eve’s motives – revealing key facial expressions and body languages which may have been missed inappropriately by the audience where the setting may have been effected using low-key lighting.

Nonetheless, Casablanca and All about Eve employed almost the same cinematographic effects to depict the grace and beauty of the female characters. Ilsa Lund – Rick Blaine’s lover in Casablanca was shot in an angle that could give her face certain softness and her eyes with some sparkle – a noticeable contrast against the seeming powerful and tensed shots of the male characters. Eve Herrington in All about Eve was depicted in the same manner – particularly in the first part of the movie, where she presented herself as a passionate and helpless waif, who worships Margo Channing. The same treatment was given to Margo Channing – though in the process of “graceless” aging, was shot exquisitely in a scene where she announced that she is about to be married to her partner Bill Samson.

Similar with Citizen Kane and All about Eve, the sound effects of Casablanca suited just right to depict the climax and the drama in the film and thus created a mood of excitement or melancholy on the part of the audience.

image credits to blogs.rounds.com

Indeed, Casablanca has left a timeless legacy to film – an effective capturing of emotions and aspirations, in a struggle for independence, love, and everything that human beings aspire for.      

 References

All About Eve. Prod: Darryl Zanuck. Dir: Joseph Mankiewicz. Perfs: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm. 1950. DVD. Twentieth Century Fox. 2003

Casablanca. Prod: Hal Wallis. Dir: Michael Curtiz. Perfs: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid. 1942. DVD. Warner Home Video. 2008

Citizen Kane. Prod: Orson Welles. Dir: Orson Welles. Perfs: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Comingore. 1941. DVD. Warner Home Video, 2002.

Film Studies Program. Yale Film Studies.YaleUniversity,New Haven. 2002. Accessed 29 January 2010 from www.classes.yale.edu

Retributive Justice and Free Will

credits to WD Fyfe for the image

“Justice is the means by which established injustices are sanctioned” (France, 1901).

This statement from Anatole France is an apt reflection of the basic philosophical foundations of retributive justice. Under the custodial model of retribution, those who have been proven guilty would be receiving just punishment for their deeds, and the people who have been victimized and the social structure which may have been directly or indirectly tainted or offended, will be given the opportunity to restore what has been lost from them – not only through consolation of some sorts, but through the knowledge that the perpetrator of the crime committed against them would be paying his/ her just retribution – an injustice that has already been sanctioned.

Perhaps, it is easy to advocate for a less firm approach to correction, particularly in the utilitarian aspects of rehabilitation, deterrence and incapacitation, when one would use the already tried-and-tested principle of humaneness. Yet for the people who have been oppressed and hurt by criminal acts, such approaches would not be comprehensible. How could justice be adequately served if the person that has been victimized does not receive that which has been denied of him/ her by his/ her offender?

Plenty may disagree with me in this regard, particularly if my aforementioned statements would be assumed as nothing but a mere euphemism for vengeance. Indeed, the society would benefit more if the system of correction would indeed strive to “correct” what has been wrong on the person – a rehabilitative form of intervention, founded on the assumptions of the medical model. The criminal would have to go through some series of behavior modification procedures, and after a few months or years be pronounced as “rehabilitated” or “cured.” But would it really do so?

I believe that retributive justice rests on the basic assumption of human beings as capable of making their own judgments and decisions – creations of sound mind and sound body. It would indeed violate this very principle to think that the individual’s decisions – when later on proved to be detrimental not only to himself/ herself but to the other people and the society as well, would be perceived as somebody who warrants “professional intervention;” somebody afflicted with an illness that needs to be treated and a condition that needs to be rehabilitated. While it would be morally repugnant to assume that a person, who perceive himself/ herself as superior on the merit of his/ her expertise or educational background could dictate whether a person who is subject to him/ her is dysfunctional and hence needed to be treated, it would also be abhorrent to regard the criminals’ wrong decisions and actions as products of their own moral or personal inferiority and “illness” as a human being. Do we not all agree that each was created equal – gifted with the capacity for liberty and freewill? That it is also because of this gift why human beings enter into a social contract with others and created a government that could enforce the necessary control – in order to ensure that in the pursuit of liberty and freewill, the common good would prevail. Thus, the process of retribution would not be a form of vengeance – basically because it would not be administered by the offended party, but a neutral system that is created for this very purpose.

In the very process of retributive justice, we are assured that the innocent would not be punished (Bradley, 2003) for isn’t retribution about getting what one deserves? In order to fairly exercise retribution, the criminal justice system must be above reproach because like in any other exercise, the framework would be futile and dysfunctional if it would not be observed properly. Retributive justice likewise carries the essence of fair play – of the society’s striving for the balance of individual autonomy and the common good: tip one scale and chaos would result. When a person violates the laws of the land, s/he may use the guise of personal autonomy. Yet, s/he could never escape the contract which s/he violated. S/he is regarded as a person with inherent worth and dignity and in the philosophy of retributive justice; s/he would not be treated as a helpless person in need of guidance and assistance from those who know more. Rather, s/he would be treated as a person who is in full command of his/ her own actions.

Retributive justice does not contradict the Christian edict. For is it not Christ himself, who said that the people would be judged on the merit of his/ her actions, on the scale for which s/he weighed others? If the nation’s criminal justice system would be using a scale that is fair and impartial, what does it fear of future retribution? Like Bradley (2003), I believe that the central aim of punishment is retribution; to redress a grievance using the appropriate means. Deterrence, rehabilitation and incapacitation were only secondary aims – which I believe would naturally follow once a person gains full cognizance of the extent of his/ her mistakes.  Retributive justice could in fact, appease the offended side, so it would not have to employ means that could only worsen the situation and inflict further danger in our society. Retributive justice could in fact, prevent the aggrieved to commit revenge – because they know that the appropriate justice has been served.

References

Bradley, Gerard V. (2003). “Retribution: The Central Aim of Punishment.” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. 01934872. Vol. 27, Issue 1.

Cole, George F. & Smith, Christopher. (2007). The American System of Criminal Justice. 11th edition.Belmont: Thomson Learning Inc.

France, Anatole (February 2008). Crainquebille.United States of America: Wildside Press

Tan, Nicholas. (22 November 2008). “Rehabilitation vs. Retribution.” International Debate

Education Association. Accessed 27 January 2010 from www.idebate.org