This year has been immense in terms of my growth as a thinker, creator, an artist, and most significantly, a writer. Outside of English, these things grew. In Baron Banner and BBN, I really tapped into these qualities as I further enhanced my skills in photography and discovered a new path as a filmmaker. It helped that my English classroom was the same place I did my work for BBN and Baron Banner.
But within the realms of AP Lang, I learned a lot in an entirely different way. Never in the classroom have I been tasked with discovering things on my own and projecting them to the rest of the class, nor have I ever gone through such a thorough level of self reflection. The literature we read seemed deeply personal, unlike the books we’re used to reading. I believe that this stems from the style in which we read and analyzed the books, which was advanced, intriguing, and sentimental. This is deeply different from the mundane reading of my past English classes. Throughout the year, I have enjoyed coming to class and actively look forward to participating letting my thoughts be known. I like hearing what other people have to say, and going back and forth. Other people’s insight is extremely important in forming your own informed opinion.
Blogging was something new to me, but it’s something I’ve taken into stride. I’ve introduced a lot of creative writing to my life, which has been a really fun way of spending my time. The time I’d usually spend playing video games or watching TV was spent on writing The Bends or doing some photography. The Bends was something really awesome to write, because a lot of people really enjoyed it, I really enjoyed writing it, it was something really unique in terms of the blogs of AP lang students, and it allowed me to express myself in an unconventional style. I’ve never had to blog nor have I ever even considered it. The 2 blog a week requirement (became more flexible over time) was tedious at times, but ultimately extremely helpful in increasing my writing skills. I also noticed that my classmates seemed to really enjoy my writing. Receiving validation for your work is so important, as it’s hard to keep yourself afloat purely on your own self-confidence. I would’ve stopped creatively blogging after a few posts if I didn’t always receive encouraging words from my friends.
I mentioned the idea earlier of really connecting with literature for the first time. To be specific, I’m mainly referring to The Catcher in the Rye. Although I’m not nearly as insane, I’ve definitely experienced almost every emotion Holden feels throughout the novel as a teenager. Intense hate, intense love, insecurity, fear, frustration, inferiority, etc. Some things just absolutely “kill me”. “Really”. My only criticism of the book is that it’s probably too obviously relatable. Although that’s barely criticism, because it’s essentially criticizing JD Salinger for being a great writer. For this novel, I asked “Is Holden an inherently bad person?”. Answering this is tough. On one hand, I’d say someone who’s intensely hypocritical and a pathological liar is probably a person of poor character. However, it’s very clear that Holden is just papering over the cracks. He states many times the severity of his depression, he has no real friends, and it’s possible Phoebe is the only one in his world that loves him. This would be tough on anyone. Personally, I could see myself acting similarly in Holden’s situation (nowhere near as severe, but similarly). Although Holden is deeply flawed and clearly insane, I’d say he’s probably not an inherently bad person. I like this question because it’s a little different than what I usually ask. This question was less concerned with the implications of a character, and more focused on the character within the story itself. It’s a breath of fresh air for me.
Overall, AP Lang 3 was definitely one of my favorite classes this year. My junior year was extremely hectic, and my senior year is shaping up to be in a similar vein. This class has taught me how to think by myself, with others, in small groups, in large groups, and on my feet. Never before have I been challenged in the fashion I was in this class. I look forward to applying the life lessons I learned in this class into my life.
Creative Commons, Nick Russill