A Year of Progress

Photo ©2007 by Reza [CC-by-2.0]
Well, the school year is about to come to a close. I am definitely going to miss coming to Room 306 on a regular basis. I already had three other AP classes this year and having a fourth would have been very difficult. I was also really worried how much different an AP English class would differ from a regular Honors class.

To my surprise, AP English did not turn out as I expected. My teacher, Mr. Ziebarth, voluntarily decided to give us less homework every day. The difference in workloads compared to other AP English teachers is striking. I know some peers who have to work at least two hours a day on homework for their English teachers while for me, I usually only take up one hour a day. This really helped me a lot for my other classes because I could focus more time on finishing their larger assignments.

Ironically, despite being called English Language and Composition, compared to last year’s English Honors class, we did fewer writing assignments. I remember that most of the time the kinds of writing that we did in English Honors last year was literary analyses of books we read. I know for certain that we did not have diversity in the types of essays we wrote. AP English this year offered more of that variety and helped advance my knowledge in the kinds of writing that are very fundamental.

The essay that I feel changed me the most was the very first one we did, which was a personal narrative. Being the first essay, I felt very confident about it. I had done a ton of narratives in the past and received high A’s on them, so I decided to write one in the exact same way as I always have about my graduation from elementary school. My initial results for my first draft were not as I expected. One thing we have done consistently with every essay is having our fellow peers in the class look over our work and peer edit. They would “bless” the good parts of our essays and “press” to us the faults and problems. One thing that was very well-noticed by my peers was how vague certain details I wrote were and how I was constantly repeating words with weak word choice. Even after revising my first draft, my results were not as good as I had hoped, which made me realize how I have to change the way I perform my writing and make it more like an AP.

Writing turned out to be not as easy as I hoped and I learned through all the critique I experienced in many later essays. One was an argument essay where we had to pick a side as to whether we should make our school days start later in the day. I picked the side that was the minority in terms of choice and I found myself struggling. It was probably one of the hardest essays I could write because there was barely any research that could truly support my side and arguments. Regardless, I would take the advice from my fellow peers and receive a grade that I felt happy about. The last essay we did was a descriptive essay where we had to describe a member of our families through one personality trait. I chose my dad and tried writing as good of an essay as possible. Despite various edits suggested by my peers, it still had many problems. According to my teacher, despite it being a descriptive essay, there were a lot of places where I am lacking details and specifics that could actually improve my essay.

After writing all the different types of essays that we have been assigned this year, I have begun to understand how words could structure the connections between individuals. Holden Caulfield of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is a very sarcastic young man and has an internal desire to not grow up. His choice of attitude negatively affects his relationships with just about everyone around him. Whenever he attempts to strike conversations with others, he tends to get so passionate in his thoughts that he would randomly switch topics and make his speech jumbled and messy. This leads to people being unable to comprehend his chain of thoughts, and most of the characters do not have the tolerance to sit there and listen to his rambling. In these kinds of cases for Holden, words generally break apart the relationship he has with others.

The only person that can really tolerate Holden is his little sister Phoebe. While Holden claims that Phoebe should not be able to comprehend what he rambles on about, she is able to tolerate it and listen passionately. In this one and only case, Holden’s words are what truly connects himself with his sister. Phoebe regularly experiences Holden’s habits with language and his overall tendency of mixing his jumbled ideas, and she accepts him for who he is unlike any other character who regularly conflicts with him.