AP Eng Lit Comp
My Journey So Far
Open Source Learning has been like a rollercoaster. You’re waiting in line to try something new but every time the line moves and you get a little bit closer, you can’t help but wonder what in the world you are doing in this line and how this death trap could possibly be worth it. Now you’re in the little car climbing your way to the top of this monster and every click of a rung you don’t know whether you’re excited that you haven’t died yet or terrified that you’re not going to make it. Then, you reach the top. It’s a split second of clarity and you can see the entire world around you. Straight over to the parking lot and over to the top of another coaster you’re peers are on and looking back at you from because now they get it too, the reason you got on this ride. Everything you struggled with on the way up just seems unreal. Now it’s second semester, the beautiful moment is over and it’s a straight shot going a thousand miles a minute into summer vacation and it’s great, it’s such a rush, but now you feel as if there’s so much more you need to experience before you get off this ride. After the course is over, much like the aftermath of a rollercoaster, you seem to understand a little more what the hype is about. You embrace that rush like you learn to embrace the new freedom you have over your education and all the possible directions you can choose to take it.
When you boil it down to the core, getting on this roller coaster was a choice. At some point, we all had to choose to give open source learning a try even if we had no idea what that entailed. Never had an opportunity like this one presented itself to us before. Trust was placed in our hands right alongside opportunity. Truly, we honored that trust. Making blogs of our own and taking responsibility for our posts and the content as well as taking initiative to get the things we needed to get done, done, we honored that trust. There might have been slips here and there and there was definitely questions of “what are we doing here?”, but we pulled through. Our education became our education and the choices we made about how to learn were ours sometimes independently and sometimes together.
Choice is a powerful thing. It allows for an independence that some of the newcomers to Open Source have been craving for a long time. Through choice we truly get to fully care for what we are learning because it’s ours and it’s what we decided. One of the most powerful literary experiences I had this year was reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, one of my heroes who just recently passed. Written so long ago that story still had elements that resonated with my life in some of the best and worst ways. With this course, it didn’t always matter if it was a book that we had chosen. The opportunity was in that we got to choose what we took from it. Reading Shakespeare’s Macbeth with the class was another great experience for me this year as well as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. After reading we got so much freedom in how we wanted to dissect it and then teach it to our peers. It was a new method to us all and that in of itself is what made it so effective, learning to think in a new way.
A pivotal part of this course was journal writing. Every single day as we settled in there would be a topic and some tunes and off we were. Through that, I was inspired to resurrect my love for writing in my personal journal. Just my pen and a blank page ready to be the new home of my thoughts and ideas. There is no freedom or therapy like that elsewhere for me that compares. From this moment on there’s no way I could keep moving forward in my education or in my personal life without that freedom.
Not everything in this course was a huge metaphor for something greater. Sometimes, through laughter and taking a step back and rethinking we found a deeper meaning we maybe hadn’t expected. I certainly had to laugh at myself after we were challenged to answer the question “Can you read?” I never in a million years expected my answer to be no. A simple challenge I had nearly written off turned out to be one of the most humorous and eye-opening assignments I’d done so far. All thanks to a speed reading challenge and a Dr. Seuss book I had been refreshed in my thinking and got to experience what it’s like to have fun with education again. I believe that set the tone for a lot of assignments thereafter.
After those of us who stuck with it reached the top of the rollercoaster, there was a palpable change. Second semester started us with this sort of settled feeling like the ground wasn’t slipping out from under us anymore. Then, the rush began. We all knew more of what we could accomplish and the types of things Open Source would allow us to do. Only time was no longer dragging, there wasn’t enough of it. Along came the Masterpieces. Anything we had ever dreamt of pursuing or attempting was now the core of our educational journey. There was a common theme during preparation of uncertainty at the unlimited possibilities. Where is one to start with no permanent guidelines and a mountain of resources? What we were guided to do, was to start with our passions. Overwhelmingly, the class had a passion for helping others. Whether it was Kelsey helping to “decrease world suck” or Miranda helping to embrace what we have now, in this moment, we all wanted to give. That’s sort of the core of Open Source though. We try, we learn, we fail, we learn, and then we share. This common theme extended through all different mediums including my own project to help people find their “Happy Place” and into Vanessa’s project to spread joy in other’s through baking. Even the “Destructive Therapy” helped others realize that through stress and frustration humor and a baseball bat can be the best medicine. In so many different ways these projects showed unique and undeniable compassion for the human condition.
The nice part about getting off a roller coaster is that you usually find yourself in the middle of an amusement park. More often than not surrounded by many other rides more and less thrilling that the one you just conquered. Now that you survived, you go looking for that rush again and your eyes are opened to the possibilities of what the other rides can bring. I don’t believe you can ever really be done with open source learning. The hero’s journey usually has its end with some type of resolution. This class however, won’t end with what we’ve accomplished here. Many of us stepped up to the challenge, we responded to the call of duty. Some of us chose to buy in and others weren’t ready to change their perspective yet. For the most part, many of us will walk away enlightened and even empowered. Our education is just that again, our education. There’s no way to go back to memorizing, regurgitating and getting a letter grade. Now the power is in our hands and this ride may have come to an end, but what we can do with the skills we’ve learned has no limit in sight.