[Think about that should in the title of this post. I like to take it as sarcasm.]
So this week in class I dedicated at least ten whole minutes to thinking about what I’m good at. Still not really sure, but I ended up going with “making my cat happy,” though sometimes I do the opposite… like when I take a billion pictures of her despite her clear annoyance. That topic isn’t very interesting, so I’ll just post a picture of my cat and move on to writing instruction.
Before our discussion on Wednesday, I hadn’t really thought about how strange composition courses are. The composition class I took remains one of my favorite classes… but I don’t feel as though it equipped me for writing outside of a literature course; I had to figure the other stuff out on my own. Still don’t really know APA though! Freshman Composition (for me) was essentially a class in MLA and Classical Lit. Though it was a really systematic and somewhat difficult course, I learned a lot from it and I really appreciated the instructor. Now would I teach a class the way he did? Probably not. It may have worked for me but I watched a lot of people who had other interests and skills suffer through the strict, lengthy papers and exams. Engineering majors, psychology majors, you name it, all there learning how to write in MLA only to never use it again. They harbored a grudge against the class, the same grudge I harbored for algebra. I got an A in it in high school from cramming right before tests, then I forgot all about it and had to take it in college just to move on with my life. I had the WORST algebra instructor in college. He must have thought he was pretty bad too; he quit after one semester. He told me that algebra is something everyone should know, how it’s so important, etc., etc., etc. Guess what?? I never use that shit! Never! The same way my engineer & psych friends never write in MLA. Okay, end rant, back to Composition.
Russell asserts that “… writing does not exist apart from its uses, for it is a tool for accomplishing object(ive)s beyond itself” and that “the object(ive) of GWSI courses is extremely ambiguous because those involved in it are teaching and learning the use of a tool (writing) for no particular activity system” (8). For many people, the goal of a class they don’t care about or really need for anything other than a degree is simply to pass it, right? I understand that there should be some sort of foundation for people who aren’t sure what they want to do yet, but Composition doesn’t seem to be it and it seems like people should have a “general” understanding of putting words to paper before college (like how to pick up a pen/pencil and write legible things/type something on a keyboard while being somewhat cohesive and relevant, persuasive even, maybe). So how should that be dealt with? I’m not really sure, but asking students what they’d like to write might be a good start. Practice doing what you like, learn how to write in your field of study, don’t kill yourself over a potentially irrelevant writing system… or something like that! I’m still working out exactly how I feel about writing and its occasional description as a “basic skill” (Metaconcept 15). It’s just too broad for that; it means so many things.
*Also, does anyone else out there think that college general ed. might have been designed by someone who thought that everyone wanted to be a Jeopardy contestant someday? People from other countries I’ve talked about school with pretty much unanimously said they did all that stuff before college. What gives? Not sure exactly how to feel about it either.