Do You Write Better Than a Fifth-Grader?

Here I am on a Sunday afternoon electrified by coffee, typing away to get a head start on my week. I do not have time to think about making my thoughts sound pretty, so here they are. I believe that English can be a beautiful language, but when one tries to flower it up we loose the beauty behind it. In the way that a beautiful girl who wears too much make up looses her natural beauty, when we dig through a thesaurus to find words to make our message sound more intelligent we loose the fluency behind the meaning.
Children have the most remarkable imagination, but they need to learn how to write and express their thoughts. These lessons of writing are the stepping stones of communication. From these teachings a student must learn how to intelligently speak their minds. In Engfish an example of a third-grader’s writing was used and the words painted a picture in the mind of the reader, but we cannot always write the way we did in third grade. Our vocabulary has grown, we have a better understanding of grammar, and more thoughtful ideas to print on the page. We must take the instruction and passion of a child and build upon it to have inspired writing.
There is nothing wrong with big, eloquent words- the problem is that we use them without conviction. Rhetoric is used to get your message across to an audience. What ever words are needed to do so- use them.
-Alicia Donahoe

Engfish Considered

Our class discussion on Friday really got me thinking about my English education, and how I have matured as a writer.  The earliest thing I can remember from English education was in my 7th grade with Mr. Colvin.  Mr. Colvin was tough, really tough, especially with grammar.  The man was an absolute grammar fiend, and if I were to even consider using “And” to start a sentence, or if I forgot a comma where it was needed, I would lose the credit necessary to get an “A” on the paper.  Yeah, that’s where it all began, being my high school English education.  It only worsened from there, as in my junior year I was told by my AP Language teacher that my writing was “…good, but needed improvement.  You are not using enough sophisticated language.”  That is a quote from an email I received from Mr. Yen, who continued to expand on this concept in class then next day.  He said that students who write well, with great grammar and flow do not do well on the AP, and in the writing profession.  He stated that great writing is utilizing great language.  So because my pieces had not used enough “S.A.T.” type words, my writing, according to Mr. Yen, was not meeting par.   I was shocked, and really upset.  I asked my mom what to do, and she really had no answer.  And looking back on it, I am not mad at her for having no answer, not disappointed in the least.  Because as I have progressed as a writer, I have realized that writing is the most difficult thing to teach.  If someone has an issue with math, has an issue with science, or does not understand a concept in Social Studies, they can go to the teacher and get a concrete answer.  But, go to your professor and discuss why you got a C on your last paper, and the resolution becomes a lot more difficult to explain, and the process to improve becomes a lot more shady, a lot less ambiguous.  So yes, I do understand how difficult it is to teach writing, but I still think Mr. Colvin’s and Mr. Yen’s method to teaching was absolutely wrong.  You cannot force a student to curb to your method of writing because by doing so, you are not letting them find what works and what doesn’t; they need to develop their own voice.  And the best way to do that?  I really don’t know.  But I got ever so close to learning from a class I took last semester.

Last semester I took Engl 102, Texts in Time, with Professor Kaplan.  And to this point, I have to say that no other professor has had a better impact on my writing than he had.  He told me to find my own voice, write the way I wanted to , and more than anything, make the point of my paper, my thesis, more apparent and self evident than ever.  And that was it.  That was all he told me throughout the entire semester.  We had 4 papers throughout the semester, only 1 of which a set topic.  The other 3 were up to us students.  We were able to write about any part of the novel we were reading, and had the opportunity to express our opinions pretty blatantly as a result.  And because of these 3 papers and such minimal guidance, I gained the most out of any writing class.  Kaplan took the back seat, had discussion with us each class about the novels, but NEVER forced his opinion or writing style upon us.  Instead, he let us take the reins.  For the first time in my life, I began to self evaluate my voice, and my style of writing.  I began to figure my own faults, instead of having teachers pick out what was spelled wrong, what was grammatically incorrect, and how limited my vocabulary was. I began to form my own style and learned rather quickly that my vocabulary was the least bit limited.  Instead, it was quelled by my high school teachers and former professors because they trapped me in a mold that defined what an A paper was.  But with writing, there is no mold.  There is no right, there is no wrong. And that is what makes people so angry, because writing has no one answer.  There can be 30 papers that are all extremely strong, but may all be written in 30 ridiculously different styles.  So my point here is that writers need to find their voice, and the way teaching of the subject is done at this point is quelling creativity, writing style, and genius in the field.   I hope it will be changed more towards Kaplan’s methods in the future, because if not, writing will continue to become a less-respected and seemingly obsolete skill, when it is the farthest thing from that.

Just something to chew on while watching a little football,

-Aaron

Oh English

A couple of weeks ago I had an experience at my job that really ticked me off. So much, that I emailed Professor McCamley jogging my memory on our class discussion of ‘real’ and ‘fake’ majors. A customer had asked me what major I was graduating with. I replied “English” and in response the customer said “Oh really? On purpose?” …. Needless to say this definitely threw me for a loop and honestly made me question why I was actually an English major. It didn’t take me long to think of how many career paths I can go toward with this major. It helps me to be a better communicator, guides me in self expression, and gives me tools to be able to succeed in any future endeavor. This is something that all majors need to take away from my post. It does not matter which major you choose. Regardless of future job opportunities, if you really love something and have a passion towards a certain major, you should stick with it. Don’t let anyone belittle you into thinking that your major is not worthy. All of our majors are important, and will carry us to our dream job. We are all important.

and here is my e-mail haha

and here is my e-mail haha

 

-Erin Dodd

Writing as Discovery

The most recent assignment we’ve had, “Teaching Writing as a Process Not a Product”, has me thinking about writing and how I’ve been taught to write. As we were discussing in class the other day, we are often so grade-oriented that we forget the importance of learning to learn — of acquiring knowledge. Being an English major, I obviously enjoy reading and writing and the insight they can provide into essentially any aspect of life. After declaring my major in English, I decided that the best concentration for me to pursue would be Professional Writing, as I’ve always enjoyed the logical, organizational aspect of composing a document. This article has led me to wonder, though, am I limiting myself? In this concentration, every assignment I am given has strict requirements–from the topic to the font to the margins, everything about these assignments is laid out like a template for me to simply fill in. This structure is what I’ve always liked and is why I chose this major in the first place. When given a choice of any topic, I find myself stressing out over what to choose and second guessing myself constantly once I’ve finally chosen one. Now I’m wondering if this means that I don’t trust myself enough to form an opinion or make a decision. I’d rather have someone tell me exactly what I should be thinking about and exactly how I should present my thoughts rather than thinking for myself. I wonder if the appreciation I have for this structure is just a part of my Type A personality or, as Murray puts it, am I constantly stifling my ability to discover?

-Kendall Manning

Double-edged sword

The term “technology” is usually applied to electronics today, but I think it important to recognize all of what falls under this umbrella-term to best determine its purpose. By definition, technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. This encompasses man-made fire, spoken and written language, clothing, and even silverware—all are innovations intended to ease the strain of daily survival and existence. As Louis C.K. noted with cell phones, it is absolute reliance on technology that starts to cause problems.

People commonly rely on their phones and email to communicate with anyone who isn’t sitting right next to them, but sadly even that has exceptions. We can hope that impersonal online connectivity does not entirely replace personal interaction in some dystopian future, but we are already witness to the changes it is causing. The entire online dating industry is an example of the reconstitution of personal relationships resulting from modern electronics. Text messaging, as we mentioned in discussion, is a revolutionary social technology. Unfortunately, most of us lack the literary expertise required to simulate the subtleties of intimate human interaction through text conversation, and this is probably why it is so popular among those who wish to escape face-to-face socialization.

When technology is used to replace, rather than augment, an experience like socialization, the technology becomes more of a handicap than a beneficial tool. I believe this is what makes many people view any technology in a negative light, like any other addictive substance: the user’s lack of self-control or good judgment.

 

-Trent Rommel

Is technology good or bad?

We all have heard that technology is ruining the younger generations. People are unable to talk face to face with others or we rely too much on technology. But is this really true? Sure, certain technology people can live without, constant texting, tweeting, facebooking etc. But what about the other things that technology does for us? With the internet people are able to gain knowledge and learn faster than ever before. We are able to look up any question and find the answer within seconds, instead of rummaging through old books and asking people around town.

But of course, others say that technology runs our lives and we are unable to live without it. Technology has an addicting factor to it, you can walk around any university and you will see nearly every student with a cell phone or laptop on them at any given point of the day. Even little kids nowadays, whether they like it or not, are forced to know and learn how to use a computer or phone. For example, my niece is 4 years old and has to take an aptitude test for kindergarten, the very first thing she needs to be able to do is to use a computer mouse. If she fails to use it, she fails the exam. So it can be asked, is technology running our lives or has technology simply becoming a part of it?

Just like everything else in life, technology has its positives and negatives, it is just a matter of finding out what falls into each category.

–Jamie Tan

“Technology”

Today in class, the discussion of technology disturbed me quite a bit.  The class as a whole seemed to be mostly against the advancement of technology.  People claimed that technology is a bad influence on children, students, and of course society as a whole.  Now, I understand the idea and where it comes from.  It can seem sometimes that we rely too much on technology for everything and it may even seem at times that we are helpless with out it.  However, I have to point out that every single student in that class room has a cell phone and a computer.  Its easy for people who have these luxuries to complain about them but I doubt anyone would be willing to give up all of their technology.  So if anyone thinks that technology, the source for all of our convenience and most of our connections with others, is a bad thing then I have a experiment for you.

Turn off your cell phone and if you have a home phone, unplug it.  You now will communicate with people verbally in person or by writing a physical letter.  Then shut down your laptop and or desktop computer, from now on you can no longer use it for entertainment or assignments. Assignments must be hand written and hand submitted, if your professor doesn’t allow that then you have to go to the library and use their computer to write or submit your work.  Lastly, turn of your TV, XBox, PS3, ect.  You can not use any of these for any reason.  People have done this experiment including myself and it is very difficult and you will very quickly appreciate what you have and how useful it is when you it is taken away from you.

Travis Piser