Universal Truths of English

Seven days. That’s the number of school days left until summer break. As much as I can’t wait to smell and taste that summer vacation, I will admit that I will miss my AP English class with Mr. Ziebarth. For the past 173 days in English class, I have learned an abundance of information regarding rhetoric, analysis, and the English language in general. From all my newly learned knowledge, I have made a list of main ideas that I learned this year.

1) Everything is an argument, so fight for what you believe in. 

Mr. Z probably said “Everything is an argument.” about 200 times this year, and when I first heard it, I laughed. C’mon Mr. Z, not everything is an argument. If I took out a bag of chips and ate them, that wasn’t an argument of any sort, that was simply me easing my hunger. But that’s just it. I was arguing against my hunger. I was countering it by eating. When writing papers, everything you say is an argument. If you state that the media negatively affects the body types of women, you are arguing against the media. So if everything is an argument anyway, fight for what you believe in. Write about what you thinks needs changing. The more you care about a topic and the more passionate you are about fighting for it, the better your writing is. I found that in each assignment I had to do, if I related it back to something I had strong views about or cared about, my work was better.

2) Write with no limits. 

Often in class, Mr. Z had us to zero drafts, in which we had seven minutes to write about whatever we wanted without editing. Each time we wrote one, Mr. Z had a prompt that we could follow, but we weren’t necessarily bound to it. Zero draft was a time to let your mind free. You could write whatever came to mind in that moment. You make think, what is the point of spending seven minutes free-writing? Well believe it or not, zero drafting was very liberating. Often when instructed to write, you are given a prompt that you must stick with, but with zero draft, you were free to let your thoughts out. By “killing the editor” and not fixing any mistakes, you are able to put your thoughts on paper, which is hard to do when you think about how you want to articulate it too hard. By jotting down whatever comes to mind, the writing process is much easier and gives you a chance to write how you really feel about a topic.

3) Life is a learning process. 

This last tip is more of a life lesson than anything. English class was filled with projects, discussions, and teamwork. No matter what we did, we learned from it one way or another. If we made mistakes in our essays or presentations, we learned what to do to improve. If we rocked a discussion, we learned how to do things correctly. Even Mr. Z learned with us through the year. Take everything as a lesson and learn for it. There’s always room for improvement. Learn that you will not always be right and accept it. Let other people help you when you need it, and don’t be afraid to ask. No one is perfect and knows all the answers, so don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Lastly, you can make any experience a good one if you have a positive attitude. Writing essays isn’t the greatest, but if you learn to make the best of it, I guarantee that writing won’t be so bad.

I thoroughly enjoyed AP English 3 with Mr. Ziebarth. Not only did I learn many useful tools for my future, but I also was able to enjoy the material rather than simply worry about my grade all year. In this class, I learned to learn and I think that’s the best type of learning. These days, many students learn to get the grade. The learn so that they can get into a good college. They don’t care about what they are actually learning, as long as they get the answers on the test right, they are happy. That’s not learning. That’s the art of getting by. I’m not looking to get by high school, I’m here to absorb knowledge and learn the material because I am interested in it.

So thank you Mr. Ziebarth, for an incredible year and thank you for teaching me that life will always go on and you will prevail, even if you don’t have thumbs.

-Kim

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Everything is an argument

Since the very first day of class, my English teacher has been repeating the same phrase over and over. I feel like he’s said it so many times, the words have been carved into my brain. Even as I am writing about it now, I hear his voice saying it in my mind:

“Everything is an argument.”

Over the Thanksgiving break, I was able to visit Zion National Park. Surrounded by all that nature, this sentence popped right back into my head, even though I was hundreds of miles away from my English classroom. Even though it was practically silent, I could really hear the argument that nature is making. Or one of the arguments, because I am sure that there are many. To me, standing there next to a beautiful river  in a beautiful canyon, surrounded by beautiful trees, nature was really challenging me to walk away and leave it all behind. To go back home and be surrounded by the same four walls, to sit with my face glued to a computer screen.

Everything is an argument, and some of them are easier to recognize than others. During Thanksgiving break, I was given the chance to hear nature’s argument loud and clear. And it was beautiful.

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These are some photos I took at Zion National Park.

– Karen