AP: Absolutely Preposterous | Teen Ink

AP: Absolutely Preposterous MAG

November 1, 2007
By Sophie Wasserman, San Diego, CA

Weapons of Mass Instruction have been discovered in schools nationwide. Standardization of education is a plague that comes in many forms but none as detrimental as the AP class.

AP, or Advanced Placement, enrollment supposedly signifies that a ­student is intelligent enough to take college-level courses in high school. In reality, it’s just Academic Pollution. You do not learn the material to become enlightened. You learn to pass a test. You learn so that you can impress ­admissions officers with your weighted GPA. You learn so that when you enter college as a sophomore, you can fast-track your way to a high-paying job and the “real world.” But signing away your childhood to the College Board is Absolutely Preposterous.

Dealing with those gifted children who actually want to be educated often presents a challenge to administrators. Easily bored in classes that don’t stimulate them, these students release their pent-up frustration at their intellectual stagnation in the form of classroom disruptions. The solution? Lump all the Annoying Prodigies into one class and teach them the higher-level material they crave.

However, this isolation only creates further problems: Students are stratified into two spheres of existence. Like oil and water, these groups rarely mix or interact, resulting in an unmotivated class of slackers and a bunch of Antisocial Puppets, neither group knowing how to deal with the other. School should develop students socially as well as academically, preparing them to coexist with people from all walks in this rapidly changing world.

The fundamental rule in AP classes is Avoid People. Who has time for ­distracting social engagements? The massive homework load, looming deadlines and supplementary study groups slowly suck up your week.

Life doesn’t exist outside of meaningless busywork. Most often this ­consists of Absentminded Prattle, or the art of explaining concepts that you don’t understand, care about, or ever really need. The essay is no longer a forum for sharing opinions or arguing a case; it’s a formulaic regurgitation of exactly what the teacher/grader/counselor wants to hear. Anything Pedantic scores very well. Dick and Jane don’t play ball; Dick and Jane ­violently propel spherical objects at each other’s cranial cavities.

Weekends are for Application Padding: community service, multiple musical instruments, perhaps a sport or two, and other such “educational experiences.” Only Approved Pastimes are permissible. If a college wouldn’t care, neither should you.

Aggressive Parents enhance the whole experience with constant poking and pushing: “Do more, do it better, and do it faster than everyone around you. Don’t slack off. Don’t you want get into college?” Flipping burgers at McDonald’s is a favorite all-purpose threat, as if no respectable place of ­employment accepts applications from students who can’t name all the Chinese dynasties or integrate complex polynomials. Applying Pressure is a parental specialty, ­although the constant in-class reminders about judgment day (a.k.a. the AP test) don’t do anything to alleviate the stress.

Abandon Principles and accept it; shape yourself to fit the College Board cookie-cutter. AP is not learning but memorizing and rewording when prompted. AP is Always Procrastinating, staying up until one to finish that paper due tomorrow or the last of those French conjugations. AP is an obstacle course with never-ending hoops to jump through. AP is being taught ­exactly what to think and how to think it. At the end of the year, they evaluate on how well you regurgitate.

And so we sit in our little box, ­swallowing unquestioningly and vomiting on command, waiting for the sweet freedom that college brings. But can we survive the blinding sun of ­individual opinion? Or are we Altered Permanently to obey?



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This article has 106 comments.


Curly_Sue said...
on May. 19 2011 at 5:53 pm
Curly_Sue, Sand Springs, Oklahoma
0 articles 0 photos 76 comments
I love this article! As an AP student I have to say I don't agree with all your points, but I do agree with many of them. If only school administartors would read this article. To add to the great points made in this article, it's also very funny and kept me reading until the end. Kudos to you.

on Apr. 27 2011 at 4:20 pm
to.hold.the.sun SILVER, Maryville, Tennessee
9 articles 0 photos 49 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present." -John Green

I completely, COMPLETELY agree. And what's wrong with trying to get into a good college so you can have a good future by doing things now? This article is well-written, but I certainly do not agree with it.

zozo1325 said...
on Apr. 24 2011 at 8:30 pm
While reading your article I coudn't help but scream in my head how much I agreed with everything you were saying. Right now I am actually in the process of writting a paper for my AP english class and plan to be up very late finishing it since I procrastinated majorly. Apart from the fact that I agree with your argument, I would like to compliment your writing. I really liked how you decided to work with changing what AP abbreviated and overall it was a very interesting piece that was easy to follow.

Marblewolf said...
on Apr. 9 2011 at 3:31 pm
Reading this article at first made me feel very insulted. I am an AP student and I do not feel like this applies to me at all. After I thought about it though it made me incredibly sad that someone had a class like that. Its not supposed to be like that. (And if they haven't had an AP class they shouldn't be writing such a criticizing essay, since they don't know what its really like.) I've taken AP and honors classes since entering high school, and although the honors classes weren't that big of a deal, the AP made a difference in my entire high school career. Yes, the work is hard. Its challenging and time consuming and frustrating so much to the point that I want to cry sometimes. But thats only half of the story: everyday when I walk in to my AP English or my AP Government class I feel ready to be enlightened. I'm rarely ever bored and I feel like a much more knowledgable student and citizen. I feel prepared for college because they are college level classes. My teachers are amazing people who are invested and passionate about their students and their subject, which makes learning the information that much easier and deeper. That's not all you learn either; one also learns valuable life lessons, like how to work hard to expand one's talents, how to understand other people and cultures, and how to handle disappointment, among so many other things. There are certain type of people that are in the class and its a small number but I love that insulation and security. It really allows our individual personalities and the teachers to enrich the lesson. It also allows us to support eachother; for instance, if one of us gets a great grade on a paper we can freely tell people in the class and they will gather around and celebrate together. I have other classes so I am not isolated from the rest of my school; I have plenty of class time to interact with the rest of the student body. I feel like my AP experience has been completely transforming: I feel more confident and more secure in being myself as well as more comfortable with challenging myself to excell. Nearly every day I walk out of that class I feel happier and ready to meet my future.

jacobmhkim said...
on Mar. 15 2011 at 12:40 pm
jacobmhkim, Burbank, California
0 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Man, unlike anything organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments." (Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath)

First of all, I love this piece because there are so many things to discuss. That being said, I agree with you on the fact that kids who take AP classes have a hard time. However, I don't think that they turn into anti-social zombies opposite to the lazy, stupid people. It's unfair to call them lazy or stupid when they have so much undiscovered talent and beloved characteristics. For example, there are the people who play sports. They practice and play hard every day just like we study hard; they want to achieve something in their lives just as well. Then there are those who seem like slackers but I revere those people. Unlike you and I, they succeeded in breaking the bonds of "their futures" and they live in the present. Lastly, you shouldn't blame the collegeboard and it's AP system for the work you do. You should blame the competition instead. So many students are now competing for the top colleges that we are forced to play the violin and take 5 AP classes and do volunteer work at the hospital.

Fran94 SILVER said...
on Mar. 14 2011 at 12:43 pm
Fran94 SILVER, Hayward, California
8 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you are content with being yourself and never compete or compare, everyone will respect you."
-Laotzu

CATSARETHEBOMB, the author of this article isn't encouraging people to not be smart. The author of this article is encouraging people to not take AP classes because the effects would be social isolation, stress, and never believing you are good enough if you don't work hard or long enough. The author is also questioning whether it is really worth it to take AP classes.

nomasaurus said...
on Feb. 26 2011 at 7:23 pm
It's sad to see that people who are confronted with choices like this chose to criticize those who accept it. In reality, you've no right to bully and degrade the social lives and what not of students of AP classes. That being said, AP classes are difficult and at times seem useless. But even if they do turn out to be, you've no say in how those people live their lives or how they're influenced by their parents, or call them immature names. It would be better to write an informational, still opinionated article that spared the dignity of the subjects of your article.  

trini said...
on Feb. 24 2011 at 7:54 pm
I loved the student's voice in this. I have students who, at times, have felt this way but...hooray for AP! If it wasn't for that class, this student couldn't make such wonderful analogies. I love all the AP derivatives! Kudos to you.

on Feb. 17 2011 at 6:19 am
I liked the article but thought it was a little negative. Its almost encouraging people NOT to be really smart. That's kind of offensive to those who hhave worked sooo hard to do exactly what the writers telling them not to.

on Jan. 29 2011 at 11:57 am
magic-esi PLATINUM, Hyde Park, New York
27 articles 0 photos 231 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one."
"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light."

I replied to this about a year ago, saying I loved the article. Today, I read it again and while reading it, I thought the exact same things that you're saying in your comment, FireBreathingTurtles. It's clear that this article is based very much on jealousy. Although I found the acronyms amusing, I don't see why someone is an Annoying Prodigy and an Antisocial Puppet just because you aren't as smart as they are. I'm taking an AP class this year and I find it extremely useful and not at all the way you describe them. It's clear you've never taken an AP class, or if you have, you don't really seem to get what they're supposed to be about. It's not about making yourself look good to the College Board and be a nerd who gets too much homework; it's about a much more satisfying learning experience. I also disagree with the author's stereotype of AP students as weird nerds who can't associate with normal people. Almost all the people I know in my AP class and others are very social people who have friends in all the classes, even some who are taking eighth-grade level classes. So on the whole, I've changed my mind since last year. I found your comment very true, FireBreathingTurtles.

on Jan. 29 2011 at 12:30 am
Olive_Eyes GOLD, Granite Falls, Washington
18 articles 10 photos 35 comments

Favorite Quote:
"My life has been one big joke, a dance that's walked, a song that's spoke, I laugh so hard I almost choke when I think about myself" Maya Angelou

I agree to an extent but at the same time I disagree.

 

In elementary school the advanced classes were always mostly the same people so I was a bit isolated in those.

 

But as soon as I got to middle school, and now in high school I had classes with all sorts of people and made some wonderful friends who aren't necessarilly brilliant, but I don't really give a d.a.m.n they're amazing people and I love them.

 

So I sort of get your point, but your article felt like it had a lot of anger in it. It felt a bit irrational and whiney because of that. Try using more solid facts to support your opinion...


on Jan. 13 2011 at 8:47 pm

I have to disagree with this one.

Your article may sound very mature on the outside, but on the inside it's very immature. It is full of opinionated whining and untrue stereotyping. Frankly, this article is plain out annoying.

You claim that AP students are "Annoying Prodigies", "Antisocial Puppets", and the like. You say that there must be "Approved Pastimes" and the like. You classify certain activities as "Approved Pastimes", and more.

It's not your say on whether you believe them to be "Additional Padding" or whatnot. People choose their own activities, and take the AP classes because they feel up to the challenge. Sure, it might shiny up your transcript but there's more than just that. I feel like you fail to recognize that.

How much more stereotyped can this article get? You're inferring on this; it's not really the truth. How is it your place to automatically claim that AP students have no social life and are annoying prodigies? This is completely unfair to them.

Your motive behind this feels petty; like jealousy, almost. Whatever your reason may be, this entire thing sounds like a whiny teen venting out her anger on the internet. 

 


Bellatrix said...
on Jan. 13 2011 at 8:35 pm

I completely agree with Myrtle.

This is basically cyberbullying, yet not directed at a certain person.


Myrtle said...
on Jan. 13 2011 at 8:13 pm
I have to say that i strongly disagree with you. I belive that you are sterotyping AP "nerds" when you say that they are, "annoying prodigies" and "anitsocial puppets". AP classes are for people who like challenge. You are taught different ways to think and challenge yourself. Its not just concepts you "don't understand, care about, or ever really need". They are for people who enjoy learning. And want to challenge themselves. Personally i feel like this article is more bullying than informative. It sounds like someones mad the didn't get into an AP class

CarmH BRONZE said...
on Jan. 7 2011 at 7:57 pm
CarmH BRONZE, Maple Heights, Ohio
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us who can be against us?"-Romans 8:31 (KJV)

Above all, it was a great article, and I'm so glad you were telling the truth. Most AP students I know, because I am one myself, are arrogant and seem like they'll succeed the most when they ship off to college. Its my senior year and it's my first time taking two AP courses: English 4AP and US Government and Comparative Politics AP. Whoo! Its a lot of work and I passed both classes with two B's. I'm hoping this quarter I'll pass with A's!!!

on Dec. 16 2010 at 3:54 pm
blueberry.gee. BRONZE, Houston, Texas
1 article 0 photos 2 comments
Thank you for writing the truth. I'm taking 2 AP classes this year and I've been stressed every day of the school year. I can't even relax on days the school gives us as holidays because I always have something due the next day. Which reminds me, I have to log off now because I have a project of AP World History due tomorrow. Great article!

on Nov. 24 2010 at 4:15 pm
blackveilbrideschickies BRONZE, Brackenridge, Pennsylvania
2 articles 0 photos 30 comments
I totally agree with you. I only took one A.P. class this year and its one of the hardest classes Ive ever taken. Im writing papers every week and Im either doing really well one minute or horrible the one minute. A. P. classes suck...Id rather take academic and get straight A's easy.

eamckean said...
on Nov. 22 2010 at 2:46 am

I love this article! Its so true. In middle school I was on track with my straight A's to end up in all AP classes in high school then in the eigth grade I got sick, very sick. i ended up missing a week of school for every three days I showwed up and my grades fell to places I never fathomed they'd even come near. The following year it was difficult to get back on track and as all my friends began taking AP classes I was left in regular courses. My sophmore year I finally picked myself up and made it into two AP classes for my junior year. I enjoy the challenge of it and all the extra bits of information I never would have discovered otherwise. i am only a little over a quarter into the year and the people I am surrounded by in those classes very near frighten me. They have no idea that there are people outside their bubble in the universe. It is absolutely incredible how oblivious and close-minded they are. I am so glad I had the ability to step away from that environment where college hangs so threateningly above students heads long enough to expand my world beyond that bubble.

This article made me so happy to know that someone besides me has made this observation!


on Nov. 2 2010 at 7:43 pm
hopesmiley BRONZE, Washington, District Of Columbia
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Fall down seven, get up eight."

 

Nice article...for everyone who has commented, I don't think the author of this article was generalizing. She or he was merely describing AP's in his or her world. I agree to a certain point. It all boils down to what school you attend. AP can be a joke or something truly challenging. You left out one little thing about AP. Given the right school and class, AP is good for something. It prepares you for college level work. You said, all AP is learning how to pass the test. Well, isn't that what life is? college is? a person rarely leaves college with more knowledge than knowledge of their major needed in the work force, everything else is memorization and regurgitation. But...nice article. Keep it up, and ignore the haters.


on Oct. 11 2010 at 12:54 pm
nefariouslyme, Richland, Michigan
0 articles 0 photos 72 comments
I don't quite agree with everything, but you have the right idea. I feel like this is a slippery slope of what AP actually means. If you know how to handle it, it doesn't mean any of what you just said. And if you live in the world of AP, you'll probably do so after school is done, unless you don't want to. The AP kids tend to stick together at the top, although you will have to deal with some of the slackers. I think this was really well written, though. Did you perhaps learn how to write like this in an AP class?


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