Monday, October 15, 2012

Journal 7

Sandra Cisneros's best attribute as a writer, at least in House on Mango Street, is her creativity and originality in sentence structure, description and metaphor. The way she structured her sentences, often grammatically incorrect, really gave a voice to her character Esperanza, allowing readers to put themselves in the state of mind of a child, as opposed to an adult writing about a child. To top off this creative expression, she constantly interjects original and creative descriptive language and metaphors, transforming the perception of otherwise ordinary expressions. She doesn't just say there is a large tree with squirrels living in it, she says: "But what you remember most is this tree, huge, with fat arms and mighty families of squirrels in the higher branches." In my opinion, this ability to transform the ordinary into extraordinary with a few creative adjectives is what makes a proficient writer into a master writer.

At the end of the book, Esperanza reconciles herself with the community she grew up in, recognizing that not everyone has the opportunity to leave the environment she has been striving to separate herself from, physically and emotionally. With the aid of the three old ladies she talks to at the funeral near the end of the book, she finally begins to see Mango Street as her home, albeit a reluctant one. This idea of accepting who you are and where you came from, of not being ashamed of your roots, is powerful, especially in such a judgmental society. And the vow she makes to return to Mango Street for the ones who can't escape demonstrates a level of maturity, an unselfish, communal view, that is lacking in today's overwhelmingly self-centered ideology in America.

In researching the effects of art programs in curriculum on academic performance, I came across some controversial information. On one hand, there are experts claiming evidence of a strong correlation between high SAT and other standardized test scores and participation in arts programs in school; on the other hand, there are experts claiming that these studies on the correlation are not scientifically sound, that there are other variables that could be contributing to the rise in test scores, such as the overall excitement that new programs generate in students and teachers, or the fact that a school can afford arts programs at all may indicate a better faculty and curriculum. The idea that the evidence of correlation may not be credible was disheartening because I believe that arts programs are important in education; but then I read another article that made the argument that focusing on standardized test score result as the sole justification for arts programs is a mistake. This article attempts to convince readers that creativity and analytical skills learned in arts classes at a young age, and simply having fun at school, are just as important as test scores in producing individuals who can think creatively and solve problems. Further strengthening this argument, the article uses as example other countries that outperform us in test scores and who also require extensive education in arts.

Mother and Daughter in an Art Class

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