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My Growth As A Reader And Writer
“The journey is never ending” — Antonio Brown
English has been a challenge this year for me. The workload in the seventh grade fails to compare to the eight grade, but with this new challenge, I have been through countless beneficial experiences, have developed strengths and discovered new weaknesses. Besides basic things like comma rules, I have learned the importance of our lessons, the values in them, and my own personal reflections. Together, all of these added to my growth as a reader and a writer this year.
My experiences in writing and reading in the Fitz English class have been interesting, positive ones, largely because I genuinely liked going to and being part of the class. Everyday there was a new, often amusing, story in English — whether it was kids being thrown around while we were trying to work, or 5 people throwing cards at each other in the small room while we were trying to play skat. In terms of learning to read and write better in the class, I can see now that sometimes I had conflicts between my learning and my needing to get work done by a deadline. Sometimes these things worked well together, but sometimes I felt pressure just to get something done as opposed to taking more time to really understand something. The goal shouldn’t be just to get the work done; the goal should have more focus on the learning and understanding of what I am reading and writing. I have also learned that sometimes my impatience is not due to me not liking the book, but is really just that I am still just a teenage boy and I have lots of energy and sometimes get restless in class and would rather be doing other things. It’s less of a reflection of what I am reading than where I am right now as a 14 year old boy.
This year I believe I have grown tremendously as both a writer and reader. Over the course of eighth grade, I have developed clear strengths and weaknesses that are evident in my writing. As a writer, I have many strengths, but plenty of weaknesses too. I know that means that I have barely tapped my full potential. When I enter the zone of my writing and am genuinely enjoying my topic, I feel like I can write for hours and do so in an unusual, creative way. This is when I do my best work. For example, when I wrote the a chapter six literary analysis of All Quiet on the Western Front, I felt the words flow out of me. I attribute this to my liking of the material and the structure of the assignment. That structure helps me write more easily. I terms of weaknesses in my writing, I think my greatest difficulty is with grammar. Writing at home feels easier to me than it does in school because I can take more time to be careful and proofread my writing. Commas and the narrative paragraphs still trip me up a lot, although I believe I have become better at using them. Also, if I am tired, unfocused or distracted, my writing and work ethic both suffer. I have been trying to remove things when I work that make me distracted, such as my phone, and I have noticed that this improves my writing.
With respect to reading this year, I think that my greatest strength is that I have become a much more careful and engaged reader. After this year, I try to think about what I’m reading instead of just reading it because I have to. I try to reflect and look back on what I have read to highlight and interpret the themes. I also try to see the difference among the characters and assess what happened in the plot and what its significance is now. As for weaknesses, I would again point to my being distracted when I am reading. It is very easy to get distracted and when that happens, I do not get the main concepts or make the connections I need to in order to understand the book.
The values and skills that I’ve learned in English this year will help me not only in future English classes but also throughout my life. when I was in English in previous years, I did not find much that I thought was relevant to my life. I have really enjoyed our discussions in class because they help me to reflect on my own life and experiences. Learning to reflect like that is a skill I will bring with me. In the future. I have also learned that when you are stuck on something, it is okay to move on the the next thing and come back to it later if you need to. Before, I would often just stay stuck, thinking I could not move forward and backwards, and then I would fall apart. That does not happen much anymore to me. I have learned about commas and narratives paragraphs in writing, but I think these personal skills will stay with me longer. Also, I have learned that writing is a process of trial and error, that sometimes it may not work but you have to go back and do it again. It is okay to make mistakes if you learn from them. And finally, maybe most importantly, I have learned to give a damn. Giving a damn and figuring it out have not only helped me in English but in all ways of life. Giving a damn in English has reminded me that I can do it with time — if it doesn’t come at first, it will eventually. It’s taught me that not every one will come easy and I must put in the effort to do what I need to do. I am the only true person that I can rely on; others can help me but I cannot rely on them because I must be able to do it by myself.
With all the values and lessons I’ve learned this year and the experiences I’ve been through, I’m expecting and planning to have those aspects lead to a more positive tone and approach for me for the future. After experiencing a full year of Fitz’s 8th grade English class and everything that comes with it, I believe I’m on the path towards a more successful and capable future. I can do this by reminding myself that I can and will take time, but that I can work on it. Becoming a good writer and reader is a waiting game in that the more time you put in to something like writing, the better the outcome. I know it takes a million drafts to become a book, and that it is better to get. The work done as a draft then to complain.
Despite all of the challenges I have faced in English this year, (or maybe because of them), English has been my favorite class. In 8th grade. All of the challenges I’ve endured, experiences I have been a part of, and the time devoted to trial and error have all contributed to my growth not only as a reader and a writer, but also as a person. As I move to my next and final level at Fenn, I am more open to learning more as a student and person.
Steps towards maturity are always the hardest; moreover, in the short story Through The Tunnel, by Doris Lessing, a young boy named Jerry prepares himself to make a physical journey through an underwater tunnel, and in doing this, he unknowingly begins to prepare his own journey into young adulthood. After seeing older boys “they were big boys- men, to Jerry” pass through an under water tunnel in the “wild and rocky bay,” Jerry begins to want to impress the older local boys. Jerry becomes determined to improve his own endurance and accomplish this grueling task, which he feels will enable to become acceptable among the older boys. Towards the end of the story when Jerry ultimately makes the journey through the tunnel, his nose is gushing after being “drifted to the surface,” and his vision is clouded. Unbeknownst to him, each of theses minor physical marks is a sign of his formidable journey from innocence into young adulthood.
“He could see nothing but a red-veined, clotted dark. His eyes must have burst, he thought; they were full of blood. He tore off his goggles and a gout of blood went into the sea. His nose was bleeding, and the blood had filled the goggles.”
Jerry emerges from the tunnel a newly self-actualized person with a newfound assurance in his capabilities and sense of self. Jerry’s swim through the narrow tunnel tested and proved to him that he was no longer a child, that he had grown with confidence into a young man. On his path home, Jerry “could see the local boys diving and playing half a mile away. Jerry did not want them.” After accomplishing the journey through the tunnel all on his own, he was no longer compelled to impress the older boys. Jerry’s struggle to swim through the tunnel set him on the path of gaining more strength and confidence in himself in his journey to become a young man. His steps toward maturity, shown through these inner and outer journeys, were strenuous but rewarding. He gained what he was searching for and needed, and took the first mature steps as the young man he will become
Give A Damn And Figure It Out
“The Only Way Out Is Through” — John Fitzsimmons
It is our teachers who test us and prepare us for life; For me, that was my teacher Fitz, the “guys who tries to be a teacher and so he is,” who took me under his wing and taught me how to be a better student. Fitz has been the teacher who taught me to give a damn. He is the teacher who works me harder when I complain, and who taught me the importance of being dedicated student and the value of caring about my work. These are skills that help me get the assignment done.
At no other time in my educational life has a teacher made such a big difference in my life, unknown to me, than when my mind returned from its summer hibernation and encountered Fitz back at the Fenn School.
The summer seemed to have passed much too quickly, and soon I was back at Fenn, a school filled with shouting, enduring the fourth day of my dreaded return to school. Fitz announced to the class the evening’s homework: write 300 words about ANYTHING. Although “a simple task for me now,” back then I panicked and crumbled at the thought of the work. The 15 minutes of class time he had given us to start the assignment had quickly been eaten away by my worries. I showed barely any work except for a few poorly written opening sentences, my sheet was blank white. Sensing my dismay, Fitz came over to me, gave me some encouragement, and took me under his wing; he taught me how to handle the workload, reassured me that everything would be fine, and proved me wrong by showing me that I could do it. Then, he told me to write an additional 200 words.
Fitz has been the teacher who has made a positive difference in my life, and I know I am a better student and person because of him. Fitz, was determined to prove to me that I could do it despite my self-doubts, that I just needed to believe in myself. Fitz has always told me which I’m sure many other people have also heard the “give a damn and figure it out” encouragement, but I feel lucky that he taught this to me in the early stages of my eighth grade year. “Giving a damn and figuring it out” has been the pinnacle of the work of my year, and this idea has guided me in the way I’ve presented myself. Fitz ‘s teaching reminded me to put in the work toward getting good grades when I didn’t want to, and this positive approach will continue to serve me throughout my education and beyond. Fitz’s mindset will always be with me because it has become part of me. Fitz and I’s simple conversation has made such a profound difference in my life.
Fitz’s many lessons and personal tests have proven to me that I give a damn about myself, my education and my work. I am grateful that I figured this out in my eight grade year because those lessons have made a difference for me this year and the years to come.
Give A Damn And Figure It Out
“What a cruel thing war is... to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors.”
Robert E. Lee
From the very beginning, I really enjoyed reading the book, All Quiet on the Western Front. While some early parts of the book seemed slow, with time the book began to click with me, and I developed a genuine liking for it. With the shift in my feelings about the book, I continued to read and became a more engaged student overall. This clearly helped my understanding of the novel and my work ethic in doing the countless writing assignments. As we slowly read the chapters, I developed reading habits for the book which helped me in many ways. One of them was reading the professor’s chapter summary beforehand, highlighting the complex themes and the obscure vocabulary, and marking great passages of writing which kept me engaged throughout the process. Sometimes during the reading I would listen to music to help me concentrate; however, I found it would distract me more than my peers (who I was trying to tune out so I could get focused). As I continued throughout the book, my self-esteem grew in my writing about the literature, and this pushed me to do more. I saw my work and was genuinely proud of what was being unveiled before my eyes. The book was tremendously well written, and I believe it is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Chapter after chapter, I was excited with the constant divine writing, and the immense detail that captured the scene of the western front. Lines like “A man cannot realize that above such shattered bodies there are still human faces in which life goes its round” all contributed to my love for the book..
As I began to surround myself with the writing and dig more deeply and thoughtfully, I noticed a shift in my thoughts towards and about certain aspects of the book. After Chapter 6 and beyond, I noticed a shift in my thoughts of the war. In the early chapters I knew about the horrible aspects of war and all that was lost with it, but in the later chapters I really enhanced my learning as I dug deeper, had discussions with peers. After finishing a chapter, I took a moment to reflect on what happened — something my prior self would never do (I would carelessly move onto the next assignment). This process helped my thoughts evolve for the better; Now I understand know the horrors and sacrifice in war and how, sadly, it was worth nothing.
The book was spectacular and I would definitely recommend, while I may have been complaining to Fitz in the beginning of the book, I will now encourage others to spend the time, give a damn, and figure it out. I am grateful to Fitz for having me read this classic piece of literature.
All Quiet On The Western Front Video Essay
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.“ - Henry James
My summer hours often revolve around Menemsha harbor on Martha’s Vineyard. The harbor provides countless offers of good ice cream and the accompaniment of the retiring sea and a gentle evening breeze. Those are the reasons why I plan for all my summers to be there. A summer isn’t fulfilled for me until I take a lick of that lipstick cherry coating on the vanilla soft serve ice cream from Menemsha harbor’s very own Galley restaurant. After a long day of tubing and surfing with my uncle, we normally head there. My grandfather jokes that we all retire to the harbor, that it’s fun to retire our days with a good Menemsha ice cream tradition. No matter the occasion, rain or shine, if I had just been surfing with my cousins, fishing with my beloved grandpa or jumping of jaws bridge, we always stop at Menemsha. Sometimes it’s to grab a bite of the Vineyard’s best hot dogs, or to talk to the year round locals, or to pick up fish for dinner, we Inevitably make our way to Menemsha. The significance of the Menemsha harbor is profound in my heart because countless memories have been made in this quaint corner of the island. Not all have been good in the moment -- like when I was a little and somehow managed to get a fishing hook attached to my lip--but now my family and I can look back and laugh at my hysterics in that moment (well, maybe not my mother). Summer is a time of freedom, a time where you aren’t trapped needing to write essays or explain what’ the value of x is. Summer is my favorite time of year and I chose to come back to Menemsha because it’s the place I love, where I make the most memories, and I can laugh freely after a good day’s fun and be content to retire for the day.
The Horrors Of War
“The trench was a horrible sight. The dead were stretched out on one side, one on top of each other six feet high. I thought at the time I should never get the peculiar disgusting smell of the vapour of warm human blood heated by the sun out of my nostrils. I would rather have smelt gas a hundred times. I can never describe that faint sickening, horrible smell which several times nearly knocked me up altogether.” - British Captain Leeham
Fear is fleeting, horror is internal. As I turned the pages of Chapter Six, I was fearful of what would happen next, but I would never expect the horror that came. Every page of Chapter Six of All Quite on the Western Front, brought me a new awareness of the horrors of war, and vivid, often frightening passages that showed those horrors in gruesome detail. When I began to read Chapter Six, I began to experience the most descriptive, although horrendous, writing. The writing flowed throughout my head, setting off my emotions. Reading the book in class with audio was a helpful exercise which I liked and plan to use again in the future to further my learning. Having the audio play while I read was unnatural at first, but after the first pages I was able to get into the flow; it was different but also beneficial. This process led to a productive reading and annotation of themes while still exploring new ones. This process furthered my understanding of all themes and also allowed me to uncover horror and its undeniable role in the chapter. I researched themes while reading, and no theme has been more obvious than “Horror” in Chapter Six. The theme of horror was woven throughout the writing and shaped my experience reading. Horror in the chapter influenced the emotions I felt as a reader, The horrors of their injuries and the young troops in melancholy, having forgotten all of their training in the excitement, disgusted me. Horror affected my emotions, my empathy was immense towards the soldiers, especially the young ones who quickly learned the front isn’t a parade ground, that it’s what some consider h*ll and the only thing they will march to is a horrible death. The front is a beastly horror. I quickly learned this and the lesson that in your worst times you may uncover the best of you or the worst. Fear is sometimes a dying man’s last thoughts on the Western front, or the horror of the face in the trenches. It dies with all of them all in memories haunting their crippled bodies.
Sympathy, And It’s Role In War
“The soldier above all other prays for peace, for it is the solider who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” - Douglas MacArthur
Sympathy is taking the extra mile to use what you have to help someone else. In Chapter 8, the book, All Quiet On The Western Front, by Erich Maria and Arthur Weasley, Paul shows sympathy to the Russian prisoners at the training camp. Paul is sent to training camp, and feels for the Russian prisoners of war. They get what’s left of the already unsanitary food the Germans are eating. Paul provides them with tobacco and some food that his sick mother made for him. Paul feels for the young Russians who are dying a slowly and painfully death. Paul realizes how hard War was for him, and for many other people. When he was at training camp, he saw the pain that the Russian soldiers faced. He noticed that they would get all the disgusting leftovers, and how more and more would die each day. Paul gave some of them cigarettes not because he needed to, but because he wanted to. Martin Luther King wants said that, “True sympathy is the personal concern which demand the giving of one’s soul.” When his Dad and his eldest sister gave him his potato cakes, he gave most of them to the Russian soldiers. His sick mother made them for him, but he still used his tools to help out the Russian soldiers. Paul realizes that the Russian soldiers are more similar to him than some of his fellow soldiers, so he feels the sympathy in his heart to help these soldiers in need.
“I know nothing of them except that they are prisoners; and that is exactly what troubles me. Their life is obscure and guiltless;—if I could know more of them, what their names are, how they live, what they are waiting for, what their burdens are, then my emotion would have an object and might become sympathy. But as it is I perceive behind them only the suffering of the creature, the awful melancholy of life and the pitilessness of men.” - Chapter 8, of All Quiet on the Western Front.
It didn’t matter that they were there enemies, or that within a command the soldiers would willingly fire upon each other. Sympathy in war is essential; otherwise, the horrors of war will haunt there life. “A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies; a word of command might transform them into our friends.” The soldiers have more in common then they don’t; however, paul will attempt to shut his feelings away towards the end of the war. Pauls sympathetic feelings are keeping him alive, while he must hide them from himself ;otherwise, he would lose himself in war, and his life. Sympathy in Paul is a Singh of him surviving and his mind surviving or trying to in the Western front. Throughout All Quiet on the Western Front Sympathy is scarce, it is hidden behind the trenches, the gas masks, and orders commanding the war. Sympathy is hidden, yet kept between each soldier's heart if they lose that sense of connection they lose their mind, and there life swiftly following.
Laughter The Best Distraction From Boredom
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”
The greatest gift of friendship is laughter. It’s my friends who can always keep me laughing and free from boredom. When boredom enters my eighth grade mind, when I’m in need of a much needed laugh, or even someone to talk to or hang with, I turn to my friends. When we come together, we always seem to find ways to distract each other from boredom. Every Friday night, my friends and I found a regular distraction from boredom as we came together to laugh and play soccer. We were the Fenn Flames, a Teamworks soccer team, and I think we laughed much more than we played soccer. We weren’t the best in the league, but that didn’t matter. Unlike most teams, we came with the hope of winning games, but more importantly to have fun while doing it. One game against Sudbury I remember the most. It was the usual team, yearning to win and and sweating while doing it. The Flames, on the other hand, had come for the fun. As a group of friends somewhat skilled at playing soccer, it was more of a chance for us to hang together. Even though they were beating us, we found fun within the game by making jokes and having celebrations each either team scored. We had each other’s backs when we missed a penalty, and celebrated our success when we scored. The laughter during the Sudbury game was immense — never before had we laughed as much as a team, and their team with us. We both exploited the power of boredom on those Friday nights to come together as friends, as one team, and have fun playing soccer. It didn’t matter that we lost that game or that I missed a shot, or that we had an injury. What mattered was our team of friends, our laughter, and the multiple relationships we strengthened over two seasons.. In my opinion, we were more of a team than many others I have been on because even though we were never the best, we went out and made each other laugh and had fun. The key ingredient to a great friendship is laughter; laughter is what brought our team to together. Those friendships I formed were the greatest gift of all.
Chapter Seven Socratic Topic Ideas
- How does the theme of the lost generation impact when Paul and Kropp come across poster of a female and male and when they eventually rip the male out?
- The theme of the lost generation is recourring in this chapter why?
- What is the significance of Paul feeling detached from his family?
- Has and if so has Paul changed during his leave?
- how does the last sentence of the chapter (“I was a soldier, and now I am nothing but an agony for myself, for my mother, for everything that is so comfortless and without end.I ought never to have come on leave.”) possibly affect Paul in the future?
- When Paul had his romantic encounter and his later realization that he cannot easily escape the traumas of war how does that affect him as a character.