Progression to Literacy

Throughout my whole life I was always told that learning to read and write strongly are the two most important traits a person can have. Of course being so young and childish I never listened to what was said to me. Growing up I was forced to read books for school and take tests on them. I knew there would be a time in life when I would not only have to read books but be able to understand and relay my thoughts on them. I had never thought that writing was going to be important to me, but the time was coming when it would be a big part of my life.

It all started on my first day of high school in my English class. My teacher, Mr. Jenkins, asked the students to get a journal for the class. Not knowing what we were going to do with the journals frustrated me because I despised writing. Though I knew this day would come, just as any other incompetent young teenager I perceived it as work rather than an opportunity. The very next day, Mr. Jenkins told us to get out our journals and write our first entry. He said to write about what we did the previous day; did we enjoy it and if so what did we enjoy about it? Did we come across any problems and how did we overcome them? I thought to myself "I have no idea what to write about." My life freshman year of high school was pretty boring and I didn't do much. I didn't think there was a whole lot to write about. It took me until my second week of writing in this journal to get comfortable with what to write about. I realized that even someone with a mundane life like mine, actually has a lot to write about. I decided to stop trying to write about major things that happened in my life and focus on the smaller details. When I say smaller details I don't mean "unimportant", I mean things that people wouldn't normally see me do such as my morality and my virtues. I started writing about thoughts I was having about certain matters and the way that it affected me or made me feel. I soon grasped the idea that I didn't always have to write about things people could see, but things that I could see in myself. The idea wasn't to just assign work for us to do, it was much bigger than that, to me at least. At the beginning of the semester I thought I'd hate writing in this journal, but by the end I found myself unable to stop. I valued the idea of writing and the sharing of my thoughts and ideas. I felt that I could write anything in the journal and it boosted my confidence in my writing. It felt as if I was talking to another person and was telling them my most intimate feelings on different topics throughout that first year of high school. I loved sharing my thoughts and ideas through writing, I felt that my journal became someone to talk to. It became a friend, to whom I could trust with anything that crossed my mind.

Writing the passages in my journal helped me accomplish the next important writing task in my high school career. Freshmen year English was constructed to get me writing, and that is exactly what it did. With sophomore year just around the corner I knew that I would be expected to write in a more formal manner. Just as I had expected, at the start of the new school year my teacher had informed us that our first task of the semester is to write an argumentative paper. This would be my first, but not last argumentative paper I ever had to write. In the past I was simply assigned to a topic and was expected to do research and relay information. Being so used to this system of writing I wasn't sure how to approach writing an argumentative paper. The papers topic was whether or not high school graduates should take a year off before going to college. After learning what the topic was, the last thing I worried about was the content of my paper. I was more so worried that if I could fit it all in a two page paper. I was very excited about this paper and couldn't wait to put my thoughts to paper. I took my stance on the paper, strongly believing that high school graduates should not wait a year before entering college. As a child growing up, my dad and I naturally discussed topics related to my future, life after high school specifically. I had always argued that it would in fact help pay for college if a high school graduate took a year off to work before college. Though that was true then, as I got older I realized that it would be better in the long run to attend college directly after high school. We discussed this issue many times and not only did I know my side of the argument but I knew facts to support it as well. I was so eager to write the paper and have the chance to share the information I learned and my thoughts on such a strong topic. I managed to fit all my thoughts and ideas into two pages, but I still was not satisfied. I felt that though my thoughts were on paper, they needed to be expressed aloud. Surely enough my teacher asked me to read my paper aloud to the class. The feeling of sharing my thoughts with other people intrigued me. I felt that reading and expanding on the information that I was not able to fit into my paper really got my classmates attention. There is something about the power of a person's strong thoughts read aloud that can really change another's view on things. It can allow someone to listen and naturally imagine images in their head at the same time, thus making them much more interested. I loved sharing my thoughts with the rest of the class.

My love for speaking aloud continued and I was given a couple more opportunities later that school year to read and expand on other papers. The summer after my sophomore year was very important to me. As that summer went on, I became much fonder of speaking in front of people until I almost desired it. I liked the idea of sharing my thoughts with others and allowing them to do so as well. I typically talked about my life lessons and goals with others because it seemed to get the most reaction out of people. I liked sharing about my personal life with friends and allowing them to get to know me better. Summer came and left to quick and it was time to hit the books again going into my junior year. Junior year is a big year because it's your last chance to give it all you got and to squeeze every last bit of information and skills out of your teachers and classmates before heading into your final year of high school. At the start of the new school year I was excited to see what my teachers had in store for us. My first class of the day was English and I was eager to see what my teacher, Ms. Behrend, had planned for the trimester. When I walked into class I found a few friends and chatted with them about how their summers were and if they learned anything new. Once class started my teacher handed out a syllabus to each student and explained the grading scale and what not. The part that caught my eye was two presentations we had to give that semester. The first was to be on family and how they have helped you become the best student and friend you are today. The second was at the end of the semester and was how your classmates have helped you become the student you are today. Of course, because of my new found fondness of speaking aloud over the last year, I was not nervous like most of my friends and classmates. I couldn't wait to share my thoughts with my friends. I knew I would have no problem giving this presentation. I spoke of how my family gave me many tips and tricks on becoming the knowledgeable person I am. How they always told me to give my best effort in everything I do in life and I will succeed. These presentations made me realize how much just a little help from people who have already been through all of it can greatly help me. I realized how lucky I was to have such knowledgeable people in my life that were willing to share their thoughts and ideas with me so that I was able to become the literate person I am today.

Junior year went very well and I was very successful in what I did. I sucked all the information and knowledge out of books and people that I possibly could; this prepared me for my final year in high school. Going into my senior year I was very confident that I was going to be successful. Though I liked other subjects such as Physics and Mathematics, English was always the subject that had made me the student I was. English allowed me to be successful in my other subjects. Nothing really struck me as overly interesting until my last trimester of my senior year. As part of my exam I was required to write a letter to a freshman of my choice. Knowing that my younger cousin Alexis was going to be a freshman the following year I decided to address the letter to her. My teacher, Mr. Roberts said that the letter can be about anything as long as it is appropriate. I found this interesting because I received a letter my freshmen year and I simply decided to ignore the information on it being the immature student I was. After giving the presentations my junior year about my family and friends helping me become the student I am today, I realized that just as they helped me I was given the chance to help my younger family member. I wanted this paper to fully reflect the thoughts and ideas passed down from my parents and friends to me. I told my cousin how I never thought reading and writing would ever become important to me, and how now, it is the most important thing. I explained to her that though it may seem stupid now I am passing down my thoughts and ideas so that she may be successful in everything that does as well. After everything that was said and done I kindly asked my teacher to make sure that she reads it because of the mistakes I made from not reading mine freshmen year.

Though when I was growing up and thought that reading and writing could never be important to me, high school helped me realize that it is in fact the most important thing to me. I think the most important part of literacy is being able to share your thoughts and ideas to the best of your ability. Sharing can come in my different forms as I learned throughout my high school career. As time went along I had always loved the idea of sharing my thoughts and ideas. High school allowed me to express my thoughts in many different ways. Simply writing in a journal allowed me to write my first argumentative paper. Reading my paper aloud allowed me to give presentations, and giving presentations allowed me to relay my thoughts and ideas down to people that have not yet went through high school.


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