Those are valid questions. First of all, I'll offer you a fairly lame answer: pretty much every high school student who is taking AP Language & Composition next fall is also doing some type of summer reading. Most of them are reading several books, so the blog is a different (and shorter) approach. But does that justify what we are doing? Not really! When I was a teenager, my mother used to ask me the rhetorical question: If everyone else is jumping off the bridge, would you do that too? (Hint: the most effective response to a rhetorical question is sarcasm.) Yes, mom, I would gladly jump off that bridge!
I'm hoping to have you accomplish several things with all of this reading and writing:
- Cultivate the art of meaningful academic discussion by thinking critically, posting with care and discretion, asking questions, wondering aloud, and being curious. These are the exact attributes that will make for a worthwhile class next year and you are already doing it! Because of your efforts on this blog, we will already begin on the first day of class way ahead of the game as a group of thinkers and readers and writers. I'm asking you to trust me that this is an important characteristic for success;
- When you read an essay or letter or other document, begin to notice the author's style, tone, diction, structure, theme, historical context, and your reaction;
- Begin to challenge and extend your range as a reader in terms of content, length, complexity, and new topics. LOOK: reading comprehension is somewhat like becoming a better long distance runner. If I said, "Go run ten miles without stopping," some of you who aren't in shape might have a really difficult time. However, if you trained yourself over the course of an entire year, gradually building up your endurance and mileage, you actually would be able to accomplish that daunting task, all things being equal. You need to be able to read and hang with really, really smart people's ideas for ten miles. Got it? Yeah, I know, it's hard. Welcome to college-level material, my friends.
Finally, you may have been wondering, how this is being evaluated? A thoughtful response within the parameters of the assignment will be worth up to five points each. So, if you add a comprehensive comment to all of the blog posts, you'll begin the year with an "A." Think of those points as insulation from what no doubt will be the most difficult of the three trimesters. You will be able to make the leap to college-level work, but it doesn't just happen in one week or even one month. The days of just doing the assignment and getting that easy "A" are numbered, my friends.
So, Blog #6 features visual images which are also part of what we will be studying in this class. Spend five minutes studying this mosaic of images from Detroit. It's at once strangely fascinating, incomprehensible, shocking, horrific, and simply staggering in scale. What is the rhetorical effect upon you of having access to over 43,000 digital photographs of every single home in Detroit that was on the short road to foreclosure. Please read the text carefully to note that almost half have been resolved since January. Then, read this article. What do you think about all of this? How would you address this problem if you were elected mayor? To what extent, if at all, do you believe that all of us in the State of Michigan are affected by what is happening in Detroit?