I suppose you should be congratulated for getting in to AP Seminar. It’s a special class in a special program. Most kids get A’s, but if you don’t want to be in the class, you will probably get a D. There’s not much in-between. That should make you feel good if you signed-up on your own, or it should make you feel bad if you were just put in this class.
I love this class. I went way, way out of my way to figure out what it was. Then I begged College Board to let us teach it at SOCES. Then gave up a lot of time to figure out how to teach it. I’m really happy you’re in it! So let’s start.
Where to Start?
Listen. We are in the middle of something unusual. Ideas about how to teach and how to learn are evolving, even as I – your middle-aged AP Seminar teacher – type these words with his meat-fingers. Yes. I am made of meat. So are you. But I also have tubes and chemicals inside of me right now, telling me what to do and think. And the other meat people – the ones responsible for great Policies of Learning – are trying to figure out what to tell my meat-brain, so that its chemicals start doing whatever they do in order to tell my meat-fingers which buttons to push on my keyboard, so that you will ultimately do well in this class. All I know right now is that we will all get through this together. The world seems to be in a constant state of change, and if we live in the world, we must be constantly changing as well. So keep up, buy the ticket, and enjoy the ride!
I’d like to start us off with a fun book this summer, and I think you should buy it (used books work just fine) or check it out from the library using Libby or a free app, if you can. If not, I have it on PDF for you here. Anyway, read the book. It has pictures.
So, you need to be careful. Some of the pictures are dirty. Well, pictures aren’t really “dirty.” That’s just a way some people who are made of meat (just like us) describe things that may make their brain chemicals feel uncomfortable. Lots of things can be described so that they try to make you feel uncomfortable: race, gender, sexuality, body parts, money, food, other people. And so on.
Being in AP Seminar requires you to be mature about some of the ideas that you will encounter: pictures and words, too. The meat-people at College Board actually require my chemicals to make my meat-fingers type letters that your chemicals need in order to brace themselves: some ideas are dirty! I’ll include their disclaimer on this page.
As the AP Program engages students in college-level work, the AP Seminar course may include perspectives that could be considered controversial, including references to ethnicity, nationality, religion, politics, race, dialect, sexuality, gender, or class. AP Seminar requires students to have the level of maturity and skill to thoughtfully consider and analyze diverse perspectives. The inclusion of topics, readings, texts, and other source material is not intended as an endorsement by the College Board of the content, ideas, or values expressed in the material.
Where do I start?
Did you read it?
Are your chemicals ready for dirty ideas? I’ll give you a few now so your tubes and meat-machinery (that’s what is inside you right now!) can get ready – whatever that means. “Sometimes people go to bed hungry because they don’t have food.” That makes my chemicals uncomfortable. “Women make less money than their male counterparts.” Gross. I have to stop. My tubes don’t want to pump these ideas through the meat anymore.
So I thought this might be a good place to start our thinking. Or end it, or both. Read the review of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Breakfast of Champions, Or Goodbye Blue Monday from The New York Times. You'll find it here, in our summer assignment.
The New York Times Book Review, if you don't know, is a paper mill famous for making its writers read the words of other writers, then write about those writers’ words in order to convince readers whether or not to read the words of the writers that the paper mill’s writers had been forced to read and then write about. It’s from 1973, the year I was born.
First, join our AP Seminar group on Schoology: 8G2F-PG79-NMMZ6
Visit my website and take a look around: www.firestein.org. Make sure you know how to shoot me an email. Say hello if you like.
Get a copy of our summer novel. You can download it here, but again, if you can get a hard copy, it’s worth it.
Then do the summer assignment. Follow the directions, if points matter to you. Check online around the start of August, and I’ll explain how to submit your work. I’m not sure yet: “We are in the middle of something unusual…”