Making Connections: 56 Teenagers Suggest Creative Ways to Link School Curriculum to the World of 2020 – The New York Times

Making Connections: 56 Teenagers Suggest Creative Ways to Link School Curriculum to the World of 2020 – The New York Times

Yoda I think.

Last year they told me that in AP Language and Composition, I would find my writer’s voice. After five years of nothing but annotating works of fiction, however, I was a little skeptical.

In entering AP Lang, I immediately found it consisted of a lot more than just writing essays. I was introduced to something new: rhetorical strategies and the striking impact that they could have on our written words. I stumbled my way through foreign terms — epizeuxis, amplification, anastrophe — and learned their meanings and sound.

The New York Times article titled “We Learned to Write the Way We Talk” by Gretchen McCulloch shone a light on what I’ve been learning about strategies, but for so long failed to see. McCulloch discusses the new occurrences and patterns in our written word, observing how we’ve shifted from a formal way of writing to an informal and even messier way of writing. However, despite the growingly consistent “likes” and “ums” in our works, McCulloch came to a conclusion: no matter how we write, either informally or a breath away from perfection, we write to connect with others.

Writing is all about communication. Writing is used to convey a message — your thoughts, your ideas, your opinions. It is used to tell a story, to share your point of view, to ask questions; on the contrary, it can also form an ironic double meaning that is usually found to be delightfully humorous. But most of all, writing is used to connect deeply with other people in a state of vulnerability achieved by nothing else.

As McCulloch said, “We’ve been learning to write not for power, but for love.”

I’ve found this vulnerable voice in each of our rhetorical devices. When we see epizeuxis, we hear the voice of any great leader or powerful person. When we see amplification, we hear a voice full of emotion. When we see anastrophe, we think, of course, of Yoda.

I’m sure that it’s rarely thought that rhetorical strategies are a way of writing the way that we talk, but this is the way that I see it. Even while our writing world is changing due to things such as tablets, texting, and Twitter, our voices remain unique and distinct through the written word.

We’ve learned to write the way we talk in more ways than one. While our written works are not always going to be full of “likes,” “ums,” or “wowwwws,” we are still able to communicate our voices with the use of rhetorical strategies. Even with our written word, we can expose our feelings for what they are, creating deeper and more vulnerable connections with others.

In the 155 years since the abolition of slavery, our society has been anything but equal. There is certainly a distinction, of course, between the racism that existed 155 years ago and the racism that exists today: the mere fact that what used to be explicit bias toward people of color has largely transformed into an implicit form of bias. The novel “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison as well as the New York Times article “A Greater Understanding of Race and Identity Through Tech” both explore how the implicit biases that exist in society toward people of color have consequences on how one may view their identity.

While reading “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth is undoubtedly labeled as a villain in my mind: Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to murder to chase his ambitions. I felt no sympathy toward her support of taking extreme measures to make Macbeth king until I came across the article “2 Wives of ISIS Militants Want to Return Home,” by Rukmini Callimachi and Catherine Porter. The parallels between Lady Macbeth and the wives of ISIS fighters jumped out to me as they face similar struggles supporting the power-hungry men in their lives, ending in regret. Reading this article led me to reevaluate my previously formed opinion toward extremist supporters.

Privacy and surveillance, these two concepts have become more relevant than ever before. As technology advances, our use of surveillance systems is increasing, along with the public’s fear of them. In a video opinion editorial titled “You Should Be Freaking Out About Privacy,” Adam Westbrook perfectly describes these fears. People are afraid of what surveillance technology means for their privacy; fear drives the belief that surveillance will be used for evil. That fear blinds us to what good can come of it. The Toll, a science fiction novel written by Neal Shusterman, shows us the opposite side of the same coin. The Toll takes place hundreds of years in the future, where the world is run by an artificial intelligence named Thunderhead; surveillance is comprehensive and constant; no action goes unnoticed, no crime goes unpunished.

Unlike Shostakovich, Uyghur folk artist Abdurehim Heyit couldn’t evade arrest, but his songs have rallied Uyghurs around the world to rise in protest. Moving Uyghur poems, like Hendan’s “Returning to the Fire,” have been published and translated to apprise the world of the anguish facing fractured families. Paintings and photography portray the callousness of the Chinese Government.

… Bowen’s hatred-filled act wouldn’t have been seen as out of place among the Californian community during the Dust Bowl years chronicled in Steinbeck’s book The Grapes of Wrath, where police officers and ordinary people alike spat the same words of hateful, dehumanizing slander at “Okies”- a frighteningly similar parallel to the modern day. Those same words and feelings that were once uttered at the people from across a state line are now reserved for Mexicans or Guatemalans, Muslims or Iranians, or the multitude of other scapegoats for our society’s fear.

Newton’s law of universal gravitation states that every particle attracts every other particle in the universe with a force proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the distance squared between their centers. The most present everyday example of this law is the gravity attraction be us and the earth which exerts the acceleration of 9.8 m/s^2. Even from embryonic development, people are exposed to this force which impacts our growth, development, and habits. After reading The New York Times’ article, “How Insects Cope When Blood Rushes to Their Heads” posted on Jan. 13 2020, its evident gravity has impacts beyond homo sapiens and other species have unique adaptations to dealing with gravity. This relationship between life forms and gravity is the perfect clash between two of the most popular sciences: Physics and Biology.

In his memoir Catfish and Mandala, Andrew X. Pham, a Vietnamese-American author, details the struggles of fitting into a community and finding his identity. As a child living in America, insults jabbed at him and other white kids picked fights on him because of his difference in culture and ethnicity. As an adult, he bikes alone across Vietnam to discover his roots and uncover what his purpose in life is. He encounters many difficulties, such as being plagued by stomach viruses and not being accepted by the Vietnamese or Americans. Traveling through the roads of California, Pham is told to go back to where he came from. Biking on the slum streets of Vietnam, he is treated like he abandoned his country. He feels neither truly Viet nor American. Like Pham, Vanessa Martir faced similar difficulties in “I was ‘Too Much’ for Boarding School. But I Had the Garcia Sisters.” She grew up in New York, and was ridiculed by other American kids. She grew accustomed to this ridicule and the resulting isolation, but she realized she wasn’t the only one when one of her teachers recommended her a book by a Spanish author. She read about the struggles the Garcia sisters faced living in America, and was inspired to write her own books about her native culture despite the opposition she faced.

Dehumanization is an issue that has run rampant for centuries. From the Holocaust to the Tiananmen Square Massacre to domestic violence, humans have abused other humans simply because they feel superior or want to feel superior. Dehumanization gets around moral barriers and enables people to impersonally oppress another human being in order to make it so that the person is no longer an equal but a lesser creature, stripped of their positive human qualities.

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