Monthly Archives: March 2018

Assistant Teaching- Alec B.

For my project, the accomplishments have been minor so far. I have been sitting in on eighth grade classrooms and observing the nature of the class and interactions between teacher and student. I have stepped in a few times to give input to students on how their work is.

In the future, I will be finding time to go into lower school, primarily fourth and fifth grade to do what I have been doing which is observing and helping out with certain assignments and activities. Also, with eighth grade, I will be attempting to lead discussions in the book they’re reading.

I don’t see any adjustments there need to be to achieve my goal, because my goal is to gain the experience of being in the classroom and what the roll of being a teacher is like.

Progress and Next Steps – Liv

          At this point in my research project, I am content with how far I have come and more excited than ever for continuing it through the rest of the semester. Initially, when this project began, I was still unsure on the path I was going to take, considering the broadness of the topic of “female aggression”. All I was aware of was my strong curiosity of the topic and my desire to be able to reflect on the culture around me and possibly help change it for the better. 

          Throughout the beginning of the school year up until now, I had been attending a weekly meeting comprised of great girls from grades 9-12. Although the format of the meeting was always casual, we met in order to discuss important and pressing issues regarding Westtown culture and what it means to be female in our modern society. Through this, an interest was sparked in me; I heard heartbreaking stories of my younger friends feeling not only targeted, but demeaned by older girls at our school. I had experienced something very similar during my first years of high school, and I began to question why females feel the need to assert their power in such a negative way once they become upperclassmen. Not only did that inspire me to begin a project, but I also made a promise to myself that I will do everything I can to ensure that younger girls no longer need to feel judged or attacked by older girls.

          As I began my research I came to find just how complex this topic is; there were hundreds of books and websites dedicated to just specific subgroups alone under the umbrella topic of “teenage female behavior”. So, I made the decision to start reading as much as I possibly could about various related topics. This included social media, self confidence and body image, hook up culture, perpetrators and bystanders, different types of bullying, and much more.

          Although my original schedule had devoted a substantial amount of time for initial research, I faced a struggle when I felt as though I still have so much to learn, and not enough time to do so. This required a change of mindset; I couldn’t expect to learn everything about everything before carrying out the next step.

          At this point in my research, it’s time to switch gears into observing and recording how my classmates feel about the presence of girl-on-girl aggression here at Westtown. I have compiled a set of questions that I will be sending out shortly in a survey to the entire student body in order to see some baseline information that I will then be able to refer back to later on in the semester. Formatted with open-ended questions and statements that students can agree with on a scale from 1-5, some questions include, “students who are new to Westtown are made to feel welcome by all ages”, “students display courage and leadership actively intervening when necessary to stop negative behaviors that are not supportive of other students”, and “what can students/student leaders/faculty and staff do to create a stronger and more supportive culture?”. Although most questions tend to be gender-neutral for inclusivity of the whole study body, there are questions that ask specifically about the behavior between girls.

          This survey will definitely be one of the largest and most vital aspects to fulfilling my research goals. However, it is what I do with that information that matters most to me. Assuming that I get a large enough answer pool on the survey and am able to observe an overall consensus, I will then use that information to begin my conversations with students at the school. These conversations (which will be conducted in a question-and-answer format but more casual than an interview), will allow me to get insight into specific experiences of behavioral aggression at our school, and attempt to come to a conclusion as to why that might be happening. These conversations will hopefully be conducted with people of all genders and ages. Hopefully, I will be able to find enough people that will be willing to share their experiences with me, just like the amazing group of girls that I have been meeting with before. If all goes to plan, I will be able to begin to pinpoint just what’s going wrong with Westtown’s culture, as well as what we’re doing right, in order to continue to change it for the better.

          Although I faced a small setback of falling behind in my schedule, it instead resulted in gaining more background information that will benefit me later on. I continue to learn through this research that there are so many different directions I could possibly take; and while it’s challenging, I continue to look forward to what it will result in at the end of the year.


– Liv

Accelerating to the Speed of Traffic – Sabrina

highway imageWhen getting onto a highway, you are told to accelerate to the speed of traffic. If you don’t, you’re going to be hit.  I am currently in the process of re-entering the highway and returning to my routine which is full of adrenaline and always followed by late nights.

So I’m going back to my lists and going back to my goals: I’m switching from collecting my content to creating a product, and I am left asking myself three essential questions: What do I have?  What is my plan for the rest of this semester? What do I need to change?

What do I have?

  • I have a fair amount of completed interviews (10), these interviewees have not signed and returned their release statements yet
  • I have 2 more interviews locked in and schedule for this next week
  • I am in the process of scheduling 10 interviews and that number grows every day
  • My logo is in the final stages
  • I have obtained an Innovation Grant from Westtown School
  • I have a graphic designer, a web designer, and a photographer
  • I have a rough idea about the format for my website

I have had to move up my timeline and accelerate the process of my project due to my rapid increase of interviewees. My previous list is what I hoped to have by the end of the semester, but I have far surpassed that. Now comes the harder part…

What is my plan?

  • Convert the stories that I have into full articles within the next two weeks using the software system Transcribe
  • Have a clear format for my website to give to my web designer so she can set up the website
  • Find more team members and continue to build my board of directors
  • Speak to a lawyer to discuss donations, release statements, and the like
  • Publish the website on April 30th

In preparing for this to-do list…I have to put my game face on. I need to remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint.

What am I going to change?

  • I cannot do this all on my own, that has been clear to me now, but gaining more team members is something I need to do
  • I need to listen a little less. Every person I consult with has an opinion on my project, but I also need to remember that I have the final say in my organization.
  • Somewhat contrasting to the previous point….I need to be less defensive of my project and remember that this will only be as great as it can be with the help of a team

So….I have completed what I wanted to do in a semester in a few weeks and my organization is taking shape…and I am accelerating to the speed of traffic.


Inspired by Acceptance,

Sabrina Schoenborn

Founder and CEO of The Girl Narrative

Image Citation:

“Pan-American Highway.” Wikipedia, 2017,

Navigating the World of Drafts – Ethan

Spring break has seen me write like mad to complete my outline, which now stands at 32 pages of bulleted goodness. I’ve chosen to separate the paper into three sections on a broad level: the history, the media coverage, and the discussion/original theory. Beyond that, the majority of the writing that has gone into my first draft — fourteen pages currently — has been in the department of introduction, materials / methods, and review of literature.

The introduction has always been somewhat of a mysterious beast for me; it takes its time in deciding when it’s going to be written, and often comes not all at once, but in bursts. I’ve found that if I keep tabs on how inspired I’m feeling to write it, I can usually recognize when is the best time. For a study of this magnitude, the introduction must be a clean and concise rendering of the dozens of pages that follow; capturing that is no easy task. I expect that the rest will come most naturally in pieces, as I continue to flesh out my outline into a formal paper.

Since this independent study has involved specific parameters of research, my mentor T. Olga and I decided that it was best to include a materials and methods section, to clarify why I’d chosen the line of research that I did. I arranged the section similarly to how my paper is itself ordered: history first, media coverage, and the discussion of the two that involved my own original theory. For each section, I provided an overview of the literature I pulled from as my primary sources, and in the case of the primary documents from the New York Times‘ historical archive, I explicated the exact search parameters I used.

All of this detail is in the service of anchoring my research and sources in my primary research question. Like the ‘so what’, every paper needs one, otherwise it means nothing.

Here is my question:

How and why did the New York Times participate in the framing of the Six Days’ War that endorsed the foreign policy goals of American policymakers?

This question has much to unpack; the question encapsulates two broad themes: the goals of American policymakers — which are based on history relevant to the region and the event — and the New York Times’ framing of the Six Days’ War — based directly on the primary source articles I have obtained. Beyond this, ‘how’ and ‘why’ are naturally open-ended, and the ultimate goal of my study is to answer them using my own theoretical framework.

I’m satisfied with where I am right now — for the foreseeable future, I’ll be continuing to translate my outline into a first draft, while monitoring the cohesiveness of my argument and the flow of my paper.



The Competition for Inferiority

        Have you ever noticed how many girls and women, when complimented, will immediately deny it or deflect it back to the other person? It often looks something like this:

        “Your hair looks so good today!”

        “Ugh, are you kidding? It’s so flat. I wish mine looked more like yours…”

        I think many people can admit to using this tactic. I hadn’t even realized the commonality of it until just recently when I overheard a couple of girls in the bathroom at school. Initially, their tones could have been mistaken for an argument; they were bantering back and forth while simultaneously inspecting their own bodies and faces in the mirror. As I took a closer listen to their conversation, I realized they were talking back and forth about who looked worse that day.  They weren’t claiming that they looked better than the other, but the opposite. It was as if they were partaking in a competition of inferiority and self-hate. After reflecting on it for a bit, I wondered why girls believe that in order to bond with one another or build each other up, they must first tear themselves down.

        Responding to compliments can be tricky and even awkward. We can all agree to that. But in the situation of a girl receiving a compliment, it is very difficult for her to respond in a way that will resinate positively with everyone. If she responds by denying the compliment or deflecting it back onto the other, she may often be perceived as though she is fishing for more compliments from the other person, or an ‘attention seeker’. If the response goes the other way, and she responds with a smile and a ‘thank you’, an acknowledgement that she agrees with them, she runs the risk of being called conceited or overly confident. This is one of the many times in which girls just cannot win; they are constantly bombarded with contradicting messages of how they should act in a society. Where does this complicated situation originate?

        It may be possible that this negative self talk is just another repercussion caused from an overly critical society. It’s a historical fact that women who make the choice to carry themselves confidently and acknowledge their own success or positive qualities have been tormented by a patriarchal society, fueled by intimidation and insecurity. Not only have men been known to fear a woman who does not carry herself like she is inferior to him, but for centuries, women have attempted to tear down the one at the top, due to jealousy of escaping the social norm of being silenced and modest. Women are simply held to higher standards by society; Pew Research Center states that 50% of people believe that women’s higher expectations in the work field is considered one of the major barriers for women’s success (Pew Social Trends: Obstacles to Female Leadership). Self confident women have been feared and hated forever possibly due to the fact that they refuse to carry out the expectations set onto them by others, either in a work or social setting. It is human nature for girls and women to feel as though it is their responsibility to prove that they are the self-critical, modest beings that society has so long told us we have to be to prevent being targeted. 

        What’s so flawed about this system is that it is promoting the vicious cycle of inequality for women. On the surface, this game of who-can-pity-herself-more may seem completely harmless. It even may boost the ego of the other person involved who is hearing her compliments being dished right back towards her. However, every time we make even a small comment laced with self hate, we are doing a disservice to woman as a whole. If all of us continue to encompass a mindset that we will be unable to bond with others or succeed without first cutting ourselves down, we will be taking two steps back for every step forward.

        So instead of giving in to this toxic urge to shame, hate, and compare ourselves to others, try looking at it from another perspective: ask yourself, why do I feel the need to criticize myself right now? Who is this benefiting? Once we realize that comparing and competing with others over qualities that we should be celebrating is not bringing women together, but instead supporting a longstanding patriarch in which women are unable to embrace their true greatness, we will be taking one step closer to breaking the system. So next time you hear a compliment, resist that urge to deny it. We are beautiful, and we all deserve to be able to embrace that.

– Liv, 3/7



“Chapter 3: Obstacles to Female Leadership.” Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project, 14 Jan. 2015,


Blog Post #5: Religion in Ancient Egypt – Bella

This week, I have been specifically focusing on Ancient Egyptian Religious Myths and Gods and Goddesses. I am just beginning to funnel down to femininity within the legends, focusing on certain Goddesses such as Isis and Hathor. An aspect of this is not just looking at the Goddesses themselves but the priestesses and the temples associated with them on earth, and how they are manifested in the real world. Continue reading

Medieval Chronicles Part III: The Supplementary Sources -Gwyneth

In this blog post, I will be providing a brief overview of some of the chronicle sources used to supplement the three major sources discussed in my previous post. One such source is the Historia Vitae et Regni Ricardi Secundi, which was composed by two monks at Evesham Abbey, the first writing from 1377 to 1390 and the second from 1390 to 1402. Since we already have plentiful information pertaining to the period covered by the first author, the second author is of much greater interest. However, the usefulness of the second monk is diminished by his brevity, frequent errors, clear hostility to the king, and tendency to focus on local rather than national politics (McHardy 13). While the second portion of the chronicle, composed under Richard’s usurper Henry IV, the first king of the house of Lancaster, is often accused of being “a vehicle for Lancastrian propaganda”, Given-Wilson refutes this claim by citing the fact that the chronicle does not use the ‘Record and Process’, the official Lancastrian account of the deposition. Given-Wilson goes on to praise the Vita, claiming that it is “a largely independent source, and as such has great value” (Given-WIlson 5). Nonetheless, it is difficult to believe that the second monk’s critical attitude towards Richard was not influenced by the Lancastrian regime under which he was writing. Continue reading

The American female narratives in WWII through Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart – Tony

In this week, I plunged from the 30s into the tumultuous 40s characterized by the social changes brought by WWII. In my first blog about Casablanca, I analyzed the American GI’s version of the war and their encounter with European femmes fatales. This time, I decided to take one step further and examine how To Have and To Have Not with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart reflected the changing gender dynamic between American males on the frontline and females on the home front. Continue reading

Medieval Chronicles Part II: The Major Sources for the Reign of Richard II -Gwyneth

As promised in my previous blog post, this week I will be discussing some of the most principle chroniclers active during the reign of Richard II. Of these, one of the most important and frequently cited is Thomas Walsingham (c. 1340 – c. 1422), a monk at the prominent Hertfordshire monastery of St. Albans. Although Walsingham is widely recognized as having been a prolific author, there remains scholarly debate as to exactly which of the numerous chronicles produced at St. Albans he contributed (Stow 69-70). Stow attributes the Chronicon Angliae, the Annales Ricardi Secundi, the Ypodigma Neustriae, and the Historia Anglicana to Walsingham. Although none of the books I have read cite the Ypodigma Neustriae, each of the other three sources are cited and attributed to Walsingham in at least two of my books, with the Historia Anglicana cited in all three books (Gundy; Fletcher; Saul). Thus it seems to me that these three texts can be said to have been definitively attributed to Walsingham by scholars. Continue reading