Today I am feeling inspired and motivated. All week long I am at an AP conference, learning the ins and outs and ways to more effectively teach my AP Literature class. I’m half in love with the teacher, if you want to know the truth. She’s sassy and smart and totally passionate about literature. Our class is alive and energetic and I’m guessing we’re all just feeding off of her energy. Sometimes it is really good for me to be taught instead of teach. To sit back and watch someone really really good at teaching do what I want to be really really good.
It has also been a breath of fresh air to be surrounded by likeminded teachers. The AP Literature course is kind of in a weird situation lately because not all colleges are giving English credit for having passed passing the AP exam. AP Language, which focuses on writing and rhetoric, is the preferred AP test as it aligns more closely with a freshman basic writing level course. It also aligns more heavily with the common core, which is what we now teach.
Literature doesn’t have as big a spot in the common core. There is much more stress on argumentation, on rhetoric, on non fiction writing. Jay Gatsby and Lennie Small and Atticus Finch don’t have much room anymore in the common core.
Because of all this, and because of changes in college requirements (most colleges used to require that you have a basic level humanities credit and a basic level literature credit- now many colleges are saying you just need one or the other) there is a little bit of uncertainty about the future of AP Literature. Is literature soon just to be an elective? No longer a requirement, but now a luxury? I have kind of known this was coming but I’ve been in absolute denial, like anyone who may be on the verge of losing a great love. I have felt so rejuvenated this week, though, to be with this fabulous instructor and to be in the midst of great and passionate teachers from across the state and together to say WE NEED LITERATURE. THIS COURSE IS IMPORTANT! WE MUST PUSH THIS COURSE!
I even got teary eyed a couple of times when our instructor got “on her soap box”. She talked about the human experience- about how literature is all just about understanding pain, suffering, sorrow, joy, family. She said it’s the most important class students will ever take in high school because students learn how to be human. They learn how to suffer, they learn how to see the world from a bigger lens, how to understand the people around us.
She left us with this, and I kid you not I got goosebumps.
“I want you to go out and save the course.
Go fight the good fight.
Don’t fight the fight you can’t fight. (I assume she was talking about counselors who insist I pass failing students here?)
Just do the job you have to do.”