Weekly Journal Update Five
February 9, 2017: From 11:10am to 12:30pm, I attended class which began with a quiz. Then, Dr. Sandridge reminded the class that our journal grades are worth a lot more than our quiz grades and reassured us that the class is doing well overall. He then explained his time machine speech, attempting to encourage students to work hard now because if they do not work hard and ask him five weeks from now to help them raise their grade, they would need a time machine to go back to this day and take Dr. Sandridge’s time machine speech seriously. After this humorous hypothetical situation, the class discussed the types of leaders that we have encountered in the class so far. The list included military commanders, generals, kings, queens, emperors, statesmen, philosophical leaders, ethical/moral leaders, cultural reinforces, vocal leaders, and lawgivers. Dr. Sandridge asked students what their image of a good, fair life was. I believe that a good, fair life is one where everyone can achieve happiness without threatening the happiness of others. The class briefly talked about Lycurgus (from the “The Song Remains the Same” module) and how his laws prescribed things such as how to raise children and how women should physically train in order to be fit to bear children.
Dr. Sandridge wanted to know what type of leader we believed he was. I believe that he is more of a vocal leader than any other type because he verbally encourages students to be a leader and helps them improve their leadership skills through education. I see myself as more of an ethical leader. I lead by example by always trying to do the right or just thing, and when asked for advice I focus on differentiating the good actions from the bad ones. I would like to be more of a vocal leader and be able to extemporarily encourage and persuade my followers. I believe that speech is one of the most powerful tools that a leader can use to accomplish goals and solve problems. The class then discussed the “Spartan Way” and read sayings from the Spartan women in the module. Dr. Sandridge asked us if we believed that our mothers would kill us for breaking a law. I believe that my mother would only try to kill me if I had killed someone in her family or tried to kill her but not for breaking any other particular law. In my opinion, mothers should want to kill their children if they are child molesters, rapists, or serial killers.
February 12, 2017: From about 12pm to 6:30pm, I read and took notes on the “Spirits in the Material World” module. This module focuses on the iconography, iconology, and material culture of the ancient world. The first artwork that it described was the Alexander Mosaic, which celebrated the victory of Alexander the Great, a Macedonian king, over Darius III, a Persian king, at the Battle of Issus. Alexander the Great is recognized as the first ruler to have his image replicated through sculptures and coins distributed throughout his empire. The second artwork described in the module was Ara Pacis Augustae, which was built to honor Augustus, the first Roman emperor, for bringing peace to the Roman Empire. The third artwork described in the module was Trajan’s Column, which was a commemoration of the victories of Trajan, a Roman emperor, over Decebalus (the Dacian king at the time) and the Dacians in two wars.
February 14, 2017: From 11:10am to 12:30pm, I attended class. I was shocked to see Dr. Sandridge with a guitar as I walked into the class room. He said that there is a difference between making music and listening to it but music is a part of who we all. Throughout history, humans have been known do things such as run in marathons and compose music. Dr. Sandridge insisted that anyone is capable of making music and claimed that we could learn how to play the guitar over the weekend. He asked if a guitar or computer was a better device for leadership. I believe that a guitar is a better device because music can motivate and encourage people to follow certain causes or persuade them to believe certain things. Dr. Sandridge discussed Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land Is Your Land,” which was recently sung by Lady Gaga at the Super Bowl. Guthrie believed that music brings people together and I agree with his belief. I believe that music brings people together by producing feelings that can be shared between them despite their cultural differences. Dr. Sandridge also explained and played a few cords on his guitar. He played a happy-sounding melody and called it the “going on a journey” music. He also played a sad-sounding melody and claimed that it was the part of the journey when it began to rain or when a friend was lost. His descriptions were very appropriate for the moods within the cords that he played. Dr. Sandridge also mentioned Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah”, which was performed by Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live recently after Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It was entertaining to listen to Dr. Sandridge play and sing “Hallelujah” with one of my classmates. He also played a song that I had never heard of before, called “99 red balloons” by Nena. The class then discussed the three main pieces of art representation of leadership in the “Spirits in the Material World” module, which were the Alexander Mosaic, Ara Pacis Augustae, and Trajan’s Column.
Dr. Sandridge also brought up Betsy DeVos’s unannounced visit to Howard University last Thursday, which I had not heard about until then. DeVos came to the university to talk to a few students and took a picture with Wayne Frederick (the president of the university). Apparently, President Frederick mentioned her visit after-the-fact, which I suspect is because of her controversial position as the U.S. Secretary of Education under Donald Trump’s administration. From what I have observed from DeVos, she is not fit to be in the position that she is in. Also, I do not believe that she visited Howard University because she was genuinely concerned with the educational needs of historically black colleges/universities. I believe that her visit and picture with President Frederick were simply a publicity stunt to improve her public image. Dr. Sandridge asked the class what problems Frederick faced or will face by welcoming DeVos. I believe that the problem that Frederick faced by welcoming DeVos is risking the trust between him and the university’s students and faculty. In addition, taking a picture with DeVos can be damaging to Howard University’s image. I believe that many people within the black community do not appreciate the president of a proud black institution being associated with a representative of a xenophobic, sexist, and racist “leader.”
Dr. Sandridge asked the class to refer to our very first module, “You Can Go Your Own Way,” and compare the list of problems of leadership in the Iliad with Frederick’s problems with DeVos’s visit. I believe that problems #14 and #20, “the leader may have personal interests at variance with the well-being of the group” and “the leader’s interests and intentions are at odds with those of his/her followers,” were the biggest problems that Frederick had faced in this situation. Frederick probably made the decisions that he had because he is more concerned with the finances of Howard University, rather than the reputation and pride of the university, which the students are probably more concerned with. The class then had a discussion about the finances of the university and its recurring/unsolved problems. Many students commented that nothing really seems to be improving and some questioned where the university’s money has been going. I found it odd that the contributions of alumni were brought up because it seemed like many students expect graduates to come back to the school and fix everything. I was glad that Dr. Sandridge asked the class how many of them plan to give back to the university, even while still in debt from student loans, because I feel as though most of them will not. I was shocked that so many students claimed that they would contribute in the future because my professor in another class asked a group of students the same question and most of them said that they would not contribute. I suspect that most of the students who claimed that they will contribute to the university’s funds as an alumni will feel differently after experiencing the complete four-year “Howard struggle,” after being thousands of dollars in debt, and while starting their lives in the “real world.” Dr. Sandridge asked the class what we would do if we were Frederick in his situation: He asked if we would have not announced DeVos’s appearance in order to increase the chances of receiving funding for the school. I could not decide on what I would do because even though I believe that a leader sometimes has to put his/her feelings and attitude aside for the good of his/her institution, I also feel as though a person’s values and morals should not have a price tag. In other words, a leader should sacrifice for his/her followers but a leader also should not be a sell-out. When a leader compromises his/her values, he/she risks losing trust from followers. On the other hand, when leaders are too prideful to do something shameful for the sake of their followers, they fail to support the people who rely on them.
February 15, 2017: From about 10pm to 10:30pm, I wrote answers to some of the questions in the module, which are the following:
· Ancient and modern leaders both display themselves in ways so that the public may see their image in a positive light. The difference in methods of image distribution between ancient and modern leaders are due to the technological advances that have occurred over many centuries. During ancient times, leaders had their images sculpted or minted but in modern times, leaders usually have their images taken as pictures or videos online, on television, or in magazines. I believe that the interpretive tools used to understand modern leadership through material culture cannot be used for that of ancient leadership because of contextual differences.
· The display of leadership through material culture is effective because it reminds people who holds authority in a civilization. In a way, it also unifies a group of people by asserting dedication and respect for their leaders. Also, this display can increase the pride of a civilization if the people deeply admire the leaders that are represented in their material culture.
· The social impact of material culture can be positive, negative, or neutral depending on the impact that a ruler has on his/her followers. For example, a generous and respected leader may have a positive social impact of material culture, an ordinary or simple leader may have a neutral social impact of material culture, and a selfish or tyrannical leader may have a negative social impact of material culture.