In reflecting on my time in AP English Language and Composition, I am most-immediately presented with the question of what I have achieved. What has changed, or improved, that would have otherwise stayed the same had I not taken the course?
I cannot say that the answer is obvious. Unlike math or science, there aren’t specific things I can point to as evidence of my learning. I’ve learned how to take a two-sample z-test for proportionality, and I have learned that work is a change in energy. But what, exactly, have I learned in AP Lang?
Coming into the course, I had rather specific expectations of what I would get out of the class: I would learn how to write different types of letters, essays, and research papers. The belief was that I would finish the year with the knowledge of the formula that makes writing of any type “good.” Well, I’m still searching for that formula, as is (I’ve come to realize) everyone else who has ever held a pen.
But the year has by no means been a waste of time.
This class has made me come to the conclusion that the ability to write well is neither talent nor luck. I have been forced to consider how it is that I now get the highest marks in an AP English class when just four years ago I was considered to be among the worst writers in my grade. I have come to the important realization that any improvement my writing experienced was the result of an active effort. Be that writing more, reading more, or just plain thinking more, I did something to improve; my abilities did not drop out of the sky.
The above is the single most important thing I learned in this class — it transcends the ability to write well. I, as many of you know, have very low self-esteem regarding my ability to achieve anything, and especially my ability to improve. In recent months, this low view of myself centered around my ability in mathematics; I felt as though I had lied to myself regarding my potential in math, and felt that I was actually quite stupid. However, just as it did with its reminder of my improvement in writing, AP Lang also reminded me that I once improved a lot in math. If my writing could continue to improve this year, then why should my math skills fail to do so in the next?
It is this that I am most grateful to AP Lang for: it has given me a framework around which to begin the long journey of overcoming my insecurities. No, my low self-esteem will not disappear overnight. But, at the very least, this class has enabled me to consider the possibility that effort is more important to success than inborn talent and, what’s more, that I am no exception to that rule.