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Hiking To Higher Heights
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Hiking To Higher Heights
A cause and effect essay about learning to truly read with quality and comprehension.
[660 words]
Chris K Sexton
Mountain View High School Senior/ ASU Freshman
[May 2006]
Hiking To Higher Heights
Chris K Sexton

The dreaded fear of sitting down and blankly staring for eternity at pages. This portrays my attitude towards reading before I chose to enter Mrs. Creaser’s room, before I scribbled the AP English course on to my schedule as a sophomore. I figured Advanced Placement Junior English just represented a fancy name for another simple, boring, no-brainer class. I thought wrong. The class demanded an enormous change from me. It demanded me to let go of how I thought, how I read, and how I perceived. I will never forget the difficult differences I encountered and am encountering through the most laborious class I have ever taken. I had not prepared myself for the transformation that I would take on from AA English to AP English.
AA English presented few difficulties. As I hiked through this calm, cool realm of English, I only acquired the basics. Though, at times, I felt myself hiking downhill, learning smoothly and swiftly, yet also hitting rough spots and forming burning blisters. I learned nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives. I comprehended the use of commas, colons, quotations, end points. I observed individual parts: subjects, predicates, clauses, phrases- working together, forming a large mass- a hill. I effortlessly conquered this hill with minor sores and gathered the definitions of these simple things in my simple brain, for my teachers only demanded that small task. As far as reading, I was barely challenged. I read, rather skimmed, through books and answered questions about the plot, main ideas, and details. Small projects only absorbed my time, and almost challenged me, almost. As I read, I hiked pleasantly over only small, rolling hills, unchallenged. Then I saw a gargantuan mountain placed right in front of me. I ceased my strolling.
My other English classes tried to prepare me for this higher knowledge; that revealed their only benefit. My journey through AP English seems nothing like that of any previous course I had embraced. Mountain peaks hover past the clouds. A hot, dry temperature overtakes the moderate, cool temperature that existed before. The terrain shifts, pointing upward to a gruesome landscape. At first, I almost turn back. But then, I realize the stubbornness in giving up and not even attempting this difficulty of great height. Instead of reading a book and identifying the plot, I have to now bring myself deeply into the book and do much like what the common cliché says, “read between the lines.” I now recognize the levels of thinking, the levels I should and should not apply. I now discover new elements, new paths, and study them each: perspectives and rhetoric and syntax and diction. Each of these paths leads to a loftier place, a gathering of more new experience and knowledge. The ability to make connections, the ability to draw inferences, and the ability to understand; all cause mountains of great size to arise. I am expected to do much more now. The trail transforms into a steep, high climb, which very few are able to climb with ease. Mind, muscles, and bones become strained, become tired, become painful. The harsh venture delivers no easy tasks. I still travel this trail today and still struggle a significant amount.
The decision of entering AP English strengthens my education a significant quantum. I now recognize authors do not just write, they write for a purpose and to an audience. Reading now opens my eyes instead of closing them. Far in the distance those tiny, rolling hills can be seen. The temptation presents itself, to turn back, to make things easier. My own simple opinions hinder the tolerance of this mental strain, this advanced learning. But, I can only persevere to contact the final destination and imagine the magnificent view that one may see when he stands on the top. I don’t know if I will ever reach this height, but I will continue to bear the agony until I do reach the summit, no matter the intensity of the climb.



"Although you have succeeded in making your point, I'd like to think that your previous English courses would have taught you how to make it in fewer words and perhaps more paragraphs. As far as reading between the lines, I prefer to write less mysteriously. My short stories are fairly straightforward, with easily identifiable plots as I try to lead the readers on, keeping their interest until I hit 'em with a real twist of an ending. My essays are usually intended to refute or debunk some commonly held opinions or myths. I didn't sense a clear distinction as to whether you were referring to fiction or non-fiction, or both, in your essay. I write fiction strictly to entertain, avoiding any hint of a particular ideology or bias of my own. I write non-fiction on the other hand, to inform readers, offering support for my conclusions with documented facts and expert opinion. Now if you're referring to stories written by today's jounalists, who purport to be objective, you will almost always find something to read between the lines. " -- Richard.


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© 2005 Chris K Sexton
May 2006

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