My Skills From High School
Learning to read and write in college is a situation parallel to Issac Newton’s quote, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” This is because Newton was able to advance the knowledge of science because he simply advanced the research of other great scientists. The skills that will be attained here in college are simply the sharpening of the skills I have already learned in high school.
My freshman English teacher taught me to sit down and just read a book and enjoy it. She also helped me expand my vocabulary by showing me the Latin roots in words.
Mr. Cicoletti was my English teacher for grades 10th-12th . He was a kind man who had us look at the philosophical side of literature. Existentialism is a great example of this because it deals with you creating your own reality and deciding to make a positive change or a negative one on this “nonsensical” world. Albert Camus’ novel “The Stranger” is one of the existentialism books I read. I learned a little Greek mythology and was able to understand the definition of a tragic hero. Joseph Conrad’s novel “Heart of Darkness” was filled with symbolism and imagery and was fun to analyze because it had so much content. It’s true that it was hard to read but by using literary devices, I was able to break down the density of the book and realize that the Congo represented darkness and the further man went into it the wilder man became.
That novel helped me see how man is primarily evil and society’s boundaries and structure us overcome our lower nature. My English teacher also had us read a book that had to do with African culture called, “Things Fall Apart,” and a book called, “Night,” which had to do with the Holocaust. We read these books because my teacher said they helped us understand other people’s cultures and see how other people think. I liked how he showed us that by reading literature you can understand different parts of the world without even going there.
I also learned a lot more about writing when I was introduced to literary devices. I learned about research papers. That included learning how to cite your resources and use the MLA format. We also learned how to write argument papers, analysis reports, and compare and contrast essays. I was also able to take the AP Language and Writing Composition Exam my junior year, where I wrote three Essays in a limited amount of time. I felt proud of myself because I am usually a slow writer but I was able to think of topics Samuelson 2 quickly and write down my main points in a standard formatted essay. My senior year AP exam was not as successful because I didn’t understand the second writing prompt very well and so I wrote down a poorly constructed essay that didn’t make much sense but I was still able to finish the test. My teacher showed us that by being able to write well meant we would be able to communicate easier with many people and get substantial jobs by writing good resumes.
Mr. Cicoletti taught me a lot of literary devices which includes, Alliteration, the repeated sound of one letter. I learned that this is used a lot in poetry to make the words fit together better, such as the nursery rhyme, “She sells sea shells by the sea shore.” Setting, the location and time era of a literary piece, is a very important element for every story because it helps the reader understand the background pf the story better. Metaphors, saying something is something else, are used a lot in stories because they help you understand a concept better such as “The woman was a snake.” This helps you understand that “The woman” is untrustworthy and not safe to be around. Symbolism, a concrete object representing an abstract idea, is a very important concept that I learned that was used a lot in “the Heart of Darkness”.
One of the symbols in that novel was the ivory which represented the white pilgrims’ greed and lust for wealth. Similes, saying something is like something, is a common device used in everyday writing, such as a diary where someone might write, “My heart was like a bouncy ball when I bumped into Cody Johnson this morning.” Personification, describing a lifeless object as if it had human characteristics, is a literary device used in “The Heart of Darkness” because Marlow describes the jungle as being alive and waiting to swallow him and his crew up even though it’s obvious that a forest can’t really swallow human beings.
Hyperbole, exaggeration, is something used in tall tales. Verbal irony is the speaker saying the opposite of what he is feeling; Dramatic irony is the reader of a book knowing something a character in the book doesn’t; Cosmic irony is forces that negatively influence somebody’s life that are beyond that person’s control. Shakespeare uses a lot of dramatic irony in his play “Macbeth”. Sonnets are poems that are written in three quatrains and one couplet, making up a total of fourteen lines. Ballads are poems that tell a story.
Haikus are poems that have three lines with seven in the first line, five in the second, and seven in the last. Poetry was a big focus my senior year and I was able to research the famous children’s author A.A. Milne who was an extremely talented poet and I enjoyed reading his works!
By accumulating all these skills in high school, I hope to develop even better writing and reading skills in college. I trust that my teachers have done their best to prepare me for this new chapter in my life but I know I will still be learning a lot!