I have stated in my past writings that “the one constant in the universe is that teenagers are not”. One year for a teenager can span a lifetime for any other creature in its complexity and the change that occurs from commencement to its cessation. I however do not follow this model. I am the same Andrew Mario Huerta now as I was a decade ago when I entered the 3rd grade in terms of my academic preferences, work ethic, and personal quarks. Whether or not this can be called good or bad is irrelevant for this particular blog topic, but it is still important to point out that my time in room 503 has not affected me inasmuch as I (and my fellow seniors) have affected it.
This year’s Advanced Composition/Honors English Literature class has been one of many experiments and it has been a great privilege to be the guinea pigs for future classes. From vocabulary tests and book talks, to Canterbury Tales and Dante’s Divine Comedy; I have enjoyed stirring things up and being allowed to try different approaches to what would otherwise be a very mundane senior English class. I hope our ideas and inputs will be greatly appreciated by next year’s seniors. All of the previous complements being said and done; this year of experimentation had its drawbacks as well. The main problem was that because projects/assignments were made up on the spot during class, it was very difficult to understand what was being asked of us so there was allot of “winging it” when doing said assignments. While this may have turned out well for me, I know that for other students who require more structured and established guidelines, the results were not favorable. There was a lot of scrambling outside of class trying to figure out exactly what were actually supposed to do. Also, for those of us who had Ms. Lahaise last year, it was hard to incorporate new rules for the scribe post and blogs. “If it aint broke, don’t fix it”.
The greatest impact this year has had on me has been the refinement and specialization of my skills with use of technology. Most recently I learned that presentation website “Prezi” is a completely ineffective tool for conveying thoughts and ideas and should never be recommended by Ms. Lahaise to her class ever again. I learned new tools for Microsoft Word such as the table of contents and bibliography features which will make my future writing endeavors much easier. While I have not learned to do anything very “new” with technology, using a laptop/tablet on a day to day basis has led me to work more seamlessly with my technology. The biggest lure for this class is it’s openness with technology. Who would have thought that my first paperless class would be English? Were it not for this computers first, paper second mentality, I would have failed the class long ago from my slow writing and lack of motivation in reading and been absolutely miserable in the process.
This year has also given me a new appreciation for literature, all be it in a non-reading sense. Before this academic year I found reading a novel to be an absolute bore and an inefficient use of my time. While this view has not changed for reading in its simplest sense, I have learned to make the reading experience tolerable if not enjoyable. For example, Le Comte de Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is the pinnacle of a long and drawn out book for high school students. This book would have been impossible for me to read and fully comprehend had it not been for the facts that I had seen Gerard Depardieu in portray Edmond Dantes in a movie the year before and am very familiar with French culture and history. The entire time I was reading the book I was taking figures from French art and scenes from the movie and creating my own playback full of music and depth. In contrast, last year’s books, The Secret Life of Bees and….I hated it so much I have actually forgotten the name as I write this post….all I had was a book and the words bound by its pages. Other examples are Dante’s Divine Comedy and Siddhartha, which I thoroughly enjoyed because I did not read the novels in as much as I experienced them with images, video, music, and religious history. I could never have enjoyed these books had I just “read” them. This is the same reasoning that leads me to always research the author of a quote before doing a journal, otherwise they are simply random words strewn together to sound profound. So at the end of this, my senior year, I now know that any future book I read needs to include the full package and not just the printed text.
I believe I bashed TED talks sufficiently in last year’s final blog to get my point across so I will simply say that my opinion on the matter has not changed from last year. I will instead turn to a subject which would seem like an oxymoron since this is a paperless class; writing. I believe my writing skills have suffered this year not because we have written too little, but because I have written too many irrelevances. Last year’s motto when writing was “less is better”, but this year I have felt particularly pressured to fill space in my writings to a point where I have lost the ability to concisely articulate my thoughts and am concentrating of “filler” sentences to make it look long/thoughtful/etc.. I find myself purposefully ranting about a subject when I could make my point and be done with the matter. Whereas last year I would drone over a single sentence, carefully placing each word into a perfect sentence, this year I just type away and hardly take a second look. This too me is a step in the wrong direction and is the exact thing I wanted to avoid when I made the decision against AP Language and AP Literature.
I used somewhat more colorful language when speaking to next years Advanced Composition class of 2013-2014, but I will take this opportunity to make a more general and lasting statement. My advice is simply to be aware that there are no second chances; that you are adults and are capable of being given the choice of sinking or swimming on your own.