Category Archives: Research and Analytical Entries

The Nature Lesson

I recently read a poem written by Marjorie Baldwin. This poem talks about a teacher, giving a lesson to the class on the primrose – a small plant with flowers that are pale yellow in colour. All students were pulling the petals of the flower off to look inside, except the author. He realized that if he did the same as everybody else, the primrose will not be a primrose anymore. It will only be bits and pieces. He found out that it doesn’t matter anymore what’s going on inside the flower if we cannot keep it alive. So the author will look over his neighbour’s flower, while leaving his primrose whole. He tries not to pull the flower into pieces, unless the teacher comes and tells him to do so. Time goes by and nobody really notices.

primrose

In the last line of the poem, it says “In the flower left breathing on my desk”. Personification is used. It makes the text feel more alive and vibrant, making it more interesting and engaging to the reader. It furthermore enhances the theme, and shows the vivid image of the primrose.

Imagery is used too in the poem. There are quite a lot of description to how the primrose looks like. We can take a look at line 4 in stanza 1. It provided a lot of details to the flower, such as “five petals”, “heart-shaped”, “pale green calyx”, “hairy stem”, “a little knob – that is the pistil”, “the bunch of stamens”. The use of imagery evokes the visual response from the reader. By using a few descriptive words, the reader now has a better characterization of the primrose.

nature conservation

The poem tells us solely that we should not harm plants and flowers. But I don’t think the idea that the author is trying to give is limited to just plants and flowers. It’s about the big thing – nature conservation. People nowadays care little about the nature. They don’t understand the importance of it. To preserve nature means to maintain, to protect the nature. Humans depend on nature for survival. It is our home. If we don’t protect it, it will be a catastrophe beyond human imagination. Horrible problems will rise, like global warming. People will not be able to enjoy the benefits, the beauty, the wonder that nature brings to the hearts of people.

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Fear is the root of the problem

Procrastination, in my opinion, is not about being lazy or sluggish. In fact, when we procrastinate we often work intensely for long stretches just before our deadlines. Working long and hard is the opposite of lazy, so that can’t be the reason we do it.

Some say they like the “rush” of leaving things till the very end and meeting a deadline. But they usually say this when they aren’t working under that deadline. They always make such statements long after cramming when they have failed to remember or even realize the negative results and problems of procrastinating.

Not to mention, leaving things to the end dramatically increases the chances something will go wrong – like getting sick or a technical computer problem – and not being able to pull off the desired grade. So, procrastination can be hard on us and actually increase our chances of failing, but we do it anyway.

Still some people claim they “do better” when they procrastinate and “work best” under high stress or pressure. Virtually everyone who offers this answer procrastinates as a habit and will not finish an important academic task until right before their deadline.

Hence, in reality, they can’t make a comparison about the circumstances under which they work best. If you always procrastinate, and never really approach your tasks systematically and in order and in an organized manner, then you can’t precisely say that you know you “do better” under pressure.

Procrastination is not a matter, purely, of having poor time management skills, either, but rather can be traced to underlying and more complex psychological reasons. This point is further proven by Professor Joseph R. Ferrari from DePaul University.

He stated that procrastinators can be classified into decision-avoiders and task-avoiders. People who delay making decisions are usually dependent on other people and rely on others to make their minds up for them. They usually blame other people when something goes wrong.

Those who delay taking action, on the contrary, make decisions, but never follow up on it. I think their reasons for delaying and avoiding the tasks ahead are rooted in fear and anxiety—about doing badly, of having no control of our outcomes, of looking dumb. After all, we often avoid doing work to avoid our abilities being judged, don’t we?

Note: The above article is an analysis of the topic and my own opinions. Any similar wordings or ideas are entirely coincidental.

Cracking the life-long mystery

I am pretty sure many people, like me, are puzzled and interested in knowing something about this mysterious topic – dreaming. We often wake up with fragments of a dream fresh in our mind and wonder why we dreamt about that.

There is still so much we don’t yet know about the function of sleeping. Despite much scientific progress, the “why” of sleep remains a a sixty-four-thousand-dollar question we have yet to figure out. Dreaming is an ancient and fundamental aspect of sleep. Researches on animal sleep suggests that we, humans, are not the only species to dream.

According to Hobson and McCarly’s activation-synthesis hypothesis (1977), dreams are the “result of the forebrain responding to random activity initiated at the brainstem … This random activity, or noise … passes through similar sensory-relay stations as information from the environment, and is interpreted in a way that leads to the phenomenology of dreaming.”

I think this explains why dreaming appeals to a majority of peoples’ dream experiences, being somewhat erratic and haphazard. This theory points out that the bizarre nature of dreams is associated to some parts of the brain trying to piece together a story out of what is essentially random information.

Interestingly, there are what’s called dream dictionaries available to interpret and discover the meanings of your dreams. Take falling as an example. You might be falling from a skyscraper, a cliff or a helicopter or from a higher ground. This suggests loss of control or insecurity. According to DreamMoods, you might be feeling overwhelmed, perhaps in school, at work, in your daily life or in your personal relationship. You might have lost your foothold and cannot keep up with the high demands of your life.

Decoding the science behind the mechanisms of dreaming may lead to important understanding into its purpose, and to the purpose of sleep itself, whether dreaming plays a role in the consolidation of memory that occurs during sleep and whether dreams are related to the learning boost that sleep appears to provide.

Dreams are interesting, or I would say rather intriguing experiences to ponder.

Note: This is more of a fact-oriented article instead of my usual opinion-based writings. The above article would not be accomplished without the numerous books, scientific research documents and online information on this topic. Credits to Mr Beaton, my English teacher, for the inspiration and the interesting facts he told us in class on this topic.

References:

Kahn, D., Pace-Schott, E. and Hobson, A. (2002). Emotion and cognition: Feeling and character identification in dreaming. Consciousness and Cognition, 11: 34-50.

Winson, J. (1993). The biology and function of rapid eye movement sleep. Current Opinions in Neurobiology, 3: 243-8.

Freud, S. (1900). The Interpretation of Dreams. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vols. IV and V. London: Hogarth Press.