May 19, 2011

Presenting the awesome closing essay of an awesome class: Twenty-Three Percent. (That's the title:)

Today (yes, May 19th, the day before this essay is due) I stayed after school to help Mr. Edmondson put up chairs as usual. A girl from my class likewise stayed after, asking about what her grade was and how she could fix it last minute. Mr. Ed checked the program on his computer and announced that she had 23% in the class. She laughed. I pretended to not be listening. As a straight-A student (except a stupid B+ in AP Calculus that doesn’t count!), I will never understand how 23% is funny. I’m a red-type personality. I’ve always had the internal motivation to achieve everything I’m capable of, and I reprimand myself for anything less than perfect. I take school seriously; however, many times the material seems pointless. Yes, I will excel. No, I will never use derivatives and integrals ever again (hopefully). There is one class, though, that I believe will benefit me in the long run. Physics? Nope. I’m talking about AP Language! Cuz now i can speek english reel good lol. On a more serious note, I’ve learned how to write. Of course I knew how to write before, but I feel like I’ve improved a lot. How will this benefit me? Writing is not only a necessary skill for my future experiences, but it is a way to document school mastery or historical things and a tool to explore myself and the world.

Since elementary school, teachers have instilled the idea that a college education is the be-all and end-all of mortal life. Everything that I’ve done from when I first learned how to read until now has been in preparation of that pivotal moment. Now, at the climax of this preparatory state, AP Language has been paramount in giving me the skills required for college. The number one ability that will help students in college is that of writing. Timed essays, analytical writing, and the vocabulary (Gahh I hated memorizing that!) were all useful exercises and tools that enhanced my writing. Naturally, after college comes a career. Writing is exempt from almost no professional job. When I become a famous neuroscientist (with a white lab coat; tie-dye for my birthday), it’s very likely that I will be writing many reports on my studies as well as thesis papers that everyone will want to read. It’s important that I keep my high-profile position by using superfluous diction, proper syntax, and a tone that is appropriate for my audience. George Orwell said, “If you cannot write well, you cannot think well, and if you cannot think well, others will do your thinking for you.” Writing is typically a sign of education. Education is a weapon against ignorance. Because of what I’ve learned in AP Language, I can use my writing as a way to protect myself, in the economic, social, and political world. It’s a necessary skill that can be utilized in many future experiences. 

Another reason why learning how to write from AP Language will benefit me is that writing is way to document and prove what I’ve learned. Every class in school involves writing of some sort. Even the AP Calculus test had a “free response section!” When a student says, “I don’t like English, but I love _______ class,” I find it so ironic. Knowing how to write is a fundamental for every class in high school. Why? Because understanding how something works and being able to explain how it works are two very different things, the latter showing mastery of a subject. Because of AP Language, I can now pass every other class! 

For a more sentimental reason, writing can document the past. As one who loves history, I appreciate the existence of language. Quick fact: the first written language developed, cuneiform of Mesopotamia, was invented to keep track of taxes…Anyway, my grandmother’s written experiences of Pearl Harbor, stories of ancestors who crossed the Mormon trail, a child's letter to Santa, and old journals of my own are all valuable writings to me because they help me connect with people in the past, including myself as a child. My heart melted when I found this in my 2nd grade journal from fall 2001: “If I could have 5 wishes I would wish for food, battories, responsibility, more fun and work. That would make life easy. I’m sure of it.” (I’m almost positive I can’t insert “sic” if it’s my own typo.) Ultimately, AP Language gave me the skills and the desire to write to prove my academic worth and to secure my life’s story.

A final piece of knowledge gained from taking AP Language is that writing is more than a dissertation of what you know; writing can teach you things about yourself; writing is an exploratory tool that can be used to understand your personality and emotions. “An American Childhood” by Annie Dillard is an autobiographic collection of short essays detailing her experiences growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the book, she identified multiple themes throughout her life: exploring, learning, and breaking through one’s boundaries. From this book I learned that by writing about your life, you can learn more about yourself. I now see writing as a way to discover my emotions. Sometimes life is so frustrating that the only thing I can do is take out my journal and create word salad on the pages. I learn more about myself by putting my thoughts into words than inhibiting them. I’ve learned that writing is a healthy way to deal with my feelings. In a very personal sense, I can echo the words of Edward Bulwer-Lytton that “the pen is mightier than the sword.”
Writing isn’t just for exploring oneself, but for learning about the world. In class we would write journals on random topics or debates. Oftentimes, I didn’t know where to start. Once I began placing ideas on the paper, it became easier to stem from what I knew to what I could unearth. With inspiration, like a spiral topic, I was able to formulate complex ideas about the issue. From this exercise, I could take the simple arguments in my head and expand them into something comprehensive. Because of AP Language, I learned that writing is more than saying what you know; it’s a way to discover something new about yourself or an idea. Through what I’ve learned, I can better reach into myself and outward into the world as well.

Wow, I went two whole paragraphs straight without any sarcastic comments! Before taking AP Language, writing wasn’t very important to me. Like the girl in my physics class, I was only giving 23% effort. Writing was a chore. This year, when I realized all of the applications of writing, I came to enjoy it more. Writing is a necessary skill for college students and neuroscientists; it is a mechanism used to demonstrate mastery and document historical events; and finally, it is a way to learn more about myself in a personal and global context. Thank you Mrs. P for presenting writing to me in a fun way. Thank you for making a difference in my life. My only hope now is that some day, some teacher or class can do the same for that poor girl who doesn’t know the value of a good education.

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