AP Language & Composition: to me at first, this was merely just another class that I forced myself to take. I wanted that AP credit that would boost my GPA, I wanted that good AP score that would help me financially to earn early college credit. While these may have been the beginning motives for my enrollment into this class, they are certainly not the true reasons for the important value this class holds.
Taking AP Lang has truly allowed me to grow as an overall writer and speaker, something that I haven’t seen as prominently as compared to my past two years in English Honors.
Revision, Revision, and More Revision
I’ve grown to see that you’ll never really reach the level of perfection, because no one can really achieve it. Writing is subjective, so there is always something that to someone else may seen perfect, but to you could need some more work on. Through countless revisions and revisions even after grading, I’ve come to see what works best for essays that require lots of description. An example of this can be seen in the comparison of my narrative essay (written around December 2016) compared to my descriptive essay (written March 2017). Reading through my very first draft of my narrative essay again, I leaned back into my chair, looked up at the ceiling, and whispered to myself, “Ooooh man…that was so bad.” Mr. Ziebarth taught us the importance of evidence. Evidence, evidence, evidence. Abstract adjectives need to have the support of concrete description somewhere. Sure I was great at describing things, and I had the solid vocabulary down, but what good did that do when my readers couldn’t even picture the scenes vividly in their minds? After I turned in the essay and Mr. Ziebarth graded it and returned it to us, I was surprised at how he wanted us to revise our final draft. Usually, teachers would grade essays, returned them to students, and we would pocket them away in our binders, never to be seen again till the end of the year. I really appreciated how I could look at my final essay again, and ponder on how to make my writing even better. By the time we had to write our descriptive essays, I was ready. I knew from my mistakes that I needed to back up my statements. How did my dad’s ingenuity and creativity shined? How did my dad’s hands hold a certain gentleness even with his calluses? I had a slew of specific events I could describe to support my claims.
What do you think?
Before in my previous English classes, there seemed to be a double-sided quality to discussions and lots of awkward silence. The only room for discussion was mostly in class and on canvas on formal discussion boards in order to gain participation points. This caused me to dread discussion, as they had a “phoniness” to them, to refer to the Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, either there was no desire to talk at all, or the desire to discuss only to gain points. However, this year in AP Lang, I’ve come to enjoy discussions quite a bit. Coming into class and being able to be in an environment of like-minded people who want to discuss their ideas, support others, or refute them brought back the joy of sharing for me. While we still discussed for points in class, we also utilized social media, such as twitter, to share our ideas. It was much more relaxed. The freedom to discuss without a teacher to lead in a dictatorial, overbearing fashion lead to my discovery of many other ideas that my classmates had, that I would not have thought of while reading the assigned book. Like the old saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.”
Sharing is Caring, No Better Group Elsewhere
Being in groups this year was the greatest experience that I loved about AP Lang. Being able to work together with people, bounce ideas off of them, hear their views, and just overall struggle together as a team was truly memorable. As we took practice tests to prepare ourselves for the AP exam, we would discuss our own answers and collaboratively agree on an answer as a group that we felt was correct. Through this way, I could see just how contrastingly similar and different each of our thought processes could be in just one practice test. However, this allowed for me to grow as a speaker, as I had to articulate my ideas well enough for them to consider that my idea could be correct. At the same time, it allowed me to see where my ideas could be flawed, and where my friends ideas could be the right one. My answer didn’t have to be correct all the time. Each of my friends’ well-backed opinions also held value too.
To answer the question of “How do Holden’s words reflect him, his life, and his relationships?” I would say that Holden’s words in the Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger reflect the fragility of his trust in people and awkwardness, but also demonstrate strong care and regard for people he respects.
I remember discussing with my group about this one particular interaction, where Holden is stunned at Mr. Antolini’s peculiar action of stroking his hair. I believe we spent about 5-8 minutes arguing about that action, whether or not it was mistaken teacher-student/father-son caring, or perverted affection. On page 192, Holden says, ” What the hellya doing?…What’re ya doing, anyway?…I have to go, anyway…No, no kidding. I gotta get going. I really do.” All through this time, he continually interrupts Mr. Antolini who is trying to explain his actions. The hurried, rapid quality of Holden’s responses shows no indication of him desiring to stay nor listen at all to Mr. Antolini. This shows how easily it was for the trust between the two to be broken. If it were stronger, Holden might not have run away so quickly, rather he might have stayed to hear Mr. Antolini out.
On the other hand, his interaction with Phoebe, his sister, shows an immensely strong bond, where Holden, though his words may sound rough, means well. On page 209, Holden says to his sister, “I thought you were supposed to be in a play at school and all…Whuddaya want to do? Not be in the play, for God’s sake?…Come on…Come on, now.” While his tone sounds harsh, he meant well, knowing just how important the play was to his sister and wanting her not to miss her opportunity to perform. It’s his awkward little way of caring for Phoebe.
This class helped me to love English again. It helped me to grow not only as a person and become more humble, but also more understanding, and proactive. If anyone ever asks me, “Should I take AP Lang?,” I would most certainly reply back, “Yes, absolutely, and hope that you get Mr. Ziebarth as your teacher too!”