Be A Moon Jumping Man

June 7, 2010
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My first day of Junior year was pretty much like every first day of school I have ever had. I started out being nervous and lost and hoping to have cool teachers and to know at least some of the other kids in my classes. First period I walked into an empty class room that was marked as a study hall on my schedule. A teacher walked in and introduced himself to me as Mr. Soffer. He had on dress pants, a button down shirt, and a tie so, immediately I thought he would be one of those strict tightly wound teachers who would do long boring lectures as a history teacher. After he introduced himself I was glad I was only in his class for a study hall. As he was looking over his attendance sheet he said I was not in his class for study hall and directed me to the right class room. I was somewhat relieved that I had a different teacher for study hall. After switching classrooms one more time I entered another class with two other students. This was to be my study hall for the rest of the year. I was happy to have a study hall first period because I knew if I had homework I didn't finish, or forgot to do, I could do it before my first class. Second period I had math with Mr. Kostal. I was not happy having math second period because I knew I would still be tired and not fully awake yet. Even though I had math second period the teacher seemed nice and I knew one or two people. Third period was gym which is one class that has not changed at all since freshmen year. I knew many kids in gym so that made me feel even more comfortable, even though I knew I would have to buy another uniform.

Once the bell rang I looked down at my schedule and saw a class marked as AM Studies for the next two periods. I was a little nervous because it was class for fourth and fifth period. Freshmen year I had a math class for two periods that was full of long, boring and argeoious work. I was hoping this class would not be the same. I was also interested in going to this class because of all the controversy over one of the teachers, Mr. Lessing. Out of all the things I heard about teachers, he was the most talked about. Some kids and teachers said his class was a complete blow off class where you spend more time looking inside yourself than doing real work. Other people said it was not a blow off class but instead, it was a challenging class with plenty of homework everyday. There is one thing both groups agreed on and that was that Mr. Lessing was a weird guy.

Once I entered his class, immediately there was a radical difference that was noticed by all the students. The chairs we all arranged in a giant circle. At that point I was very interested and thought this could be a very fun learning experience. Immediately I felt this was one class I could get a lot out of and that this should be a class I should make an effort to do well in. When Mr. Lessing introduced himself to the class I could tell that many of the other students liked him including this kid with tons energy named Nick. I haven't seen him since third grade but he was exactly the same. I also saw the same teacher who I almost had for study hall first period, Mr. Soffer. Out of all the teachers I have ever met he is the one who I have misjudged the most. After a while I realized that he was just as a cool of a teacher and that there was a lot I could learn from him on the history side as well.

Throughout the year I have learned about many things from the life of Fredrick Douglas, to the definition of motif, to the mental and physical challenges troops faced in Vietnam. We have read books that deal with race, class, childhood, contradictions, love, war, diction, lying, depression, murder, and much more. Some of the books we read I really enjoyed like “The Catcher In The Rye”. I learned that it is the simple moments in life that we cherish the most. When they guys read “The things They Carry”, I learned that the act of storytelling can be truer than the truth. If you can effectively allow your audience to feel what you felt at the time of the event with some things changed, that story will be more truthful than the truth because the actual story might not allow your audience to make a personal connection and feel the emotion you felt at the time of the event occurred. On the history side I learned that after the abolition of slavery the number of white lynchings decreased and the number of black lynchings increased due to the fear that successful blacks would take over the country. I also learned slavery did not start racism but did allow racism to grow. We also talked about how through Americas past the U.S. has become more increasingly involved in more ares of conflict around the world.

Not only have we learned things about the world around us but we also have learned things about each other and our selves as well. For example, I found out that a friend of a friend of mine, Nicky P., lost his father to cancer and that they were close. I also found out Greg had problems dealing with his stepmom at his dad’s house during the week when he is in school and then he goes to his mom’s house on the weekend. I found out Kylee had a friend that was shot in Maywood and that Sherry works at a hair salon. I found out Dan was a good actor and that Kibbles loves old school hip hop.

I also learned many things about myself that I did not know before. I found out that even though I have been in spoken word for two years and written many poems, my essays for class need a lot of work and that parts of my writing need to improve more. I have also learned that I participate in classes like American Studies more than math or science. I have found that I have learned things the best if after we talk about something we play a game in class that corresponds to the topic. An example of this is when we played the Communist game where groups became smaller and smaller as people became more suspicious and did not know who to trust.

Now I see the main purpose of American Studies is not necessarily to tell kids what to think but to force kids to form their own ideas and opinions. American Studies has been a fun, challenging, and intellectually stimulating class that has made me a more well rounded student and even more so person.





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