A Time to Work, A Time to Rest

Stress is a way of life. As a high school student, whether you are taking an AP, higher level classes, “A” levels, or normal classes, you will be stressed. The World Health Organization suggests that we split up our day so that we have eight hours of sleep, eight hours of work, and eight hours of play. However, for most high school students, this balanced schedule is impossible. We go to school for eight hours in a day, and work for about 7 of them because of lunch and breaks. That fits within a healthy day; but when we get home, we have hours of homework, and then we have to sacrifice both our sleep and leisure time. Homework is important, as it allows for extra practice and maximum understanding. However, sleep and leisure time are just as important. What to do?

Sleep is very important for a student’s education. Human beings need sleep in order to function well. By giving students hours of homework without a time set apart within the school day to finish a good amount of it, our education systems are making us vulnerable to the risks of sleep deprivation, which is detrimental to our education. The risks of sleep deprivation include symptoms such as decreased performance and alertness, memory and cognitive impairment, stress, poor quality of life, occupational injury, and for students who drive, a higher risk of accidents.

Leisure time is also part of healthy living. It is often thought that leisure time is useless, and not beneficial; it can be viewed as a waste of time. However, our brains need to rest, and not just when sleeping. Leisure time is also important for developing social skills, gained when you go out with your friends. Leisure time also provides us with an opportunity to bond with our families. It allows time for stress relief and boredom relief, and gives a feeling of control of our lives. During free time, we can meet new people and broaden our perspectives; it gives us time for group activities which increase communication skills and self-esteem; it gives us time for exercise. Generally, time “off” is beneficial to our mental and physical health.

Study halls, a not-so-common opportunity in most high schools, can contribute to a healthier student life. Candice Etemesi, a busy high school student, referring to study halls says “most people use the time to do work because it is the only time where you can guarantee that people will be quiet. So it is easier to work. It also cancels the stress of having all-nighters or having to wake up early.” Mandatory study halls will not completely fix a student’s health and stress problems. However, by providing students with a time to either finish work, relax, or sleep within the school day would help to bring us a little closer to healthy lifestyle. A school in California recently included a mandatory study hall into their schedule, and as a result, there were 228 less failing grades reported than the year before when study halls where not mandatory. Mandatory study halls are not only beneficial to students overall health, but are also beneficial to their education and the schools themselves.

Is it time for students to demand a time to work, a time to study, and a time to rest? When will what is good for adults also be good for us?

Does Pop Affect Your Brain?

Dear Generation Z,

Should we be concerned about what contemporary music could be doing to our brains? Could classical music be better for our overall brain growth in the long run? Some scientists seem to believe that contemporary music could be damaging our intellectual power. According to this article, contemporary music may be hindering our creativity, and making us settle for less when it comes to our artistic abilities. This can be a little disheartening considering so many people, including myself, listen to and love contemporary music.

I took the liberty of interviewing three people who are more informed about music than I am, to get a broader opinion on this debatable topic. Daniel Bussey, a senior high school student interested in the benefits of music therapy and hoping to major in Voice Performance in college said, “Contemporary music is [not] bad for your brain . . . Due to classical music’s intricate structure the brain is particularly responsive to the genre of music. Although most contemporary [music] is not as intricately structured as classical music . . . contemporary music can definitely be used in positive ways . . . due to the upbeat nature of modern music . . .The brain actually gets quite excited when listening to it.” Bussey takes a stance that supports both contemporary and classical music. He recognizes the intricacy that classical music incorporates while still accrediting the positive aspects contemporary music brings to the table.

Amy Onyonyi, who will be attending The Boston Conservatory and studying Vocal Performance in a Bachelor of Music degree this fall stated that, “Studies show that classical music is better suited to positively stimulate the brain. Cows produced more milk listening to classical music than when listening to contemporary music . . . .  It ultimately depends on . . . how [a person responds] to different genres of music. Some people are more productive when listening to jazz and others when listening to sonatas [therefore] I can’t generalize and say that one is better for the brain than the other.” Onyonyi appreciates a plethora of music genres and would not put one above another. Her opinion is based on the fact that it is the individual’s choice.

After getting the idea to write about this topic from Audrey Statler – my current music teacher – I was interested in knowing what her standpoint was on this issue.  “I would hesitate to say that all contemporary music is worse for our brains than classical music . . . but being proficient as a classical musician does take more academic study than being proficient in contemporary music. On the whole, classical music is much more complicated and more difficult to understand . . . . Therefore [it] probably demands that we use more of our brains when listening to it.” Statler, a professional trained in music, knows from experience that classical music is more challenging than contemporary music. In her opinion, classical music is more stimulating, but contemporary music is not necessarily bad for one’s intelligence.

Obviously, this issue is not easily concluded. I would be reluctant to speculate on whether contemporary music is bad for one’s brain, but I can say that contemporary pieces are significantly simpler to learn than classical ones. Thankfully they are both different from each other, and bring an intriguing aspect of diversity to the music industry.

So, what do you think? Does the fact that your iPod is filled with pop music make you think you are at an intellectual loss, or do you think that you creativity levels are doing alright?

Evangelical Vegans

Watch any documentary about animal abuse or the meat industry, and you will be convinced that veganism is an ethical global lifestyle, and not just because it ameliorates the grotesque conditions under which animals are forced to live. Environmentally, veganism is an antidote to most of the issues we, as a planet, face today, including carbon emissions, toxic waste, deforestation, the extinction of wild animals, the wealth gap, and excess water usage. Veganism also presents an alternative to privilege that includes dietary meat, animal – based clothing and makeup, and pharmaceuticals. Politically, it creates a rebellious route against ingrained societal greed and ignorance, as well as the fusion of capitalistic endeavor and legislation.

So, why aren’t more people vegan? Obviously, it involves an element of sacrifice, which some may find difficult to conform to. However, there are millions of people in this world who are highly capable of converting. The root issue, therefore, lies in awareness.

While we undeniably live in a world still influenced by racism and sexism, these perceptions have at least been validated as existent. The issue about to be birthed into controversy is that of “speciesism.” In the documentary Earthlings, every being on the planet is described as an equal inhabitant of the earth. The documentary suggests that we are obligated to live consciousnessly under a greater force of nature that transcends political barriers, varying ethical beliefs, and even differences between species.

Bezawit Hailu, an international student, is a vegan. Last Friday, she gave an important seminar on the inhumanities of the meat industry. In doing so, she objectively discussed the major flaws in the Western diet and superiority complex in regards to the rest of the planet. Her seminar is a good example of raising awareness without forcing judgment onto those who were previously ignorant of their responsibilities as dominant species.

James Aspey is an animal activist who remained silent for one year to promote awareness about veganism. In an interview, he says that he “went voiceless because they are voiceless – I thought. But then I realized they’re not actually voiceless. They cry in pain… The problem is that we’re not listening, because they have wings instead of arms… they have fur, they have scales… they’re a different species. So we don’t take their suffering seriously.”

All this said, the attention that veganism garners threatens it with becoming another ephemeral cultural obsession, status amplifier, or personal competition. It is a beautiful decision, but one that requires much thought, dedication, and self – actualization. Like any spirituality, there is a fine line between passion and radicalism. For example, as a former anorexic, an unhealthy vegan routine offered me a glorified path into starvation.

Now, when speaking to some outspoken vegans, I feel judged at times because of my perceived “selfishness,” lack of “discipline” or my unfortunate allergy to legumes. Here’s a phrase more people should be aware of: dietism. There may be a reason why James Aspey decided to lead by a wordlessly profound example.

The reality is that I, like many others, am trying to find my way to the true veganism that encompasses societal and personal respect. Don’t judge those of us who are carefully, intentionally, wading into the waters yet again. By nature, veganism is a yin – yang of the individual and the great society of life, and only begins with changes in diet. It is corrupted when it becomes an idol of self – promotion and materialism, and no longer stands for the shared spirit that drives all beings of life on earth. Veganism cannot exist without fluidity between the species of the self and of the world.

Multiverse Theory

Multiverse theory: a hypothetical set of infinite possible universes. This theory states that that everything exists within one of the various universes. So yes, superman does exist, somewhere.

There are said to be 4 types of parallel universe. They’ve been broken down into levels:

superman_flightLevel 1: basically this level states that the hugeness of space and the rules of probability state that there are bound to be planets just like earth. Following the rules of probability again, there are bound to be planets just like earth in which events happen almost identically to ours. It states that we cannot see these universes because we are limited by the speed of light and we aren’t capable of seeing past 14 billion light-years. Very heavy stuff, I know. Basically these places exist if you assume two things: the universe is infinite and within the universe anything and everything is likely to happen somewhere. So in reality, the mistake you made on your test is the same mistake many versions of you in a level 1 parallel universe are making. You never learn, do you?  Superman can’t exist here.

Level 2: this states that parts of space are in an inflation phase. This means that the space between our universe and other universes are continually expanding faster than the speed of light. This theory does have some merit due to the ekpyrotic theory.

This theory states that a universe is created when two branes collide in the ekpyrotic theory picture, if the universe is the region that results when two branes collide, then the branes could actually collide in multiple locations. This is sort of like a flapping your test paper against your desk; it touches your desk in multiple locations not just one.

Wait, wait, wait, I haven’t explained what branes are yet. Well, basically, they are universes which are viewed as three-dimensional that exist with many others. Think of Tetris, if each piece was its own universe just floating about.

Anyway, this theory seems probable because branes would, logically, collide in more than one place thus creating multiple universes. Superman can’t exist here.

Level 3: this sort of parallel universe is the most common in movies and science fiction. This theory states that every decision you make is causing a split in our own space-time, which leaves multiple versions of you making different decisions and thus turning out differently. This also means suggests that all universes exist at the same time, but if this were true they would probably be various quantum interferences happening. This, out of the 4 theories, has the least to do with string theory.

String theory, which Mr. Young, the AP chemistry teacher at Rosslyn Academy, calls “an interesting idea, but not good science,” due to the fact that you cannot prove string theory. But that’s a whole different discussion all together.

All these versions exist completely unaware of each other. Superman could exist here; you could be superman.

Level 4: Wizard of oz. Alice in wonderland. Super hero comic books with ridiculous powers. These places all exist in Level 4 parallel universes. These universes are highly debated universes as they suggest that the other universes that exist exist with their own mathematical laws and principals. This means that any universe that could be worked out on paper could and probably does exist. So yes, superman may exist, somewhere.

– Stanley Kalu