And Life Goes On
Writing has never been a strong suit of mine. There is never a “correct” answer or set way. Along with those frustrations,for most of my life I have been writing papers on subjects I am not passionate about. When I first signed up for WRD 104, all my friends told me that I would be writing a 10-page research paper. Ok, I though to myself. One more paper added to the long list of dull essays I have written won’t kill me. This was just going to be another one of those college classes that I have to take so I can graduate and move on into the “professional” world. For me, a lot of college is about getting the degree. With a degree I can get a good job, and live a happy life. Although there will be classes I hate, and some I love, each class will teach me a lesson and prepare me for the future. Even though the purpose of college is debatable, for me I want to discover my larger purpose in the world, and lead me onto a career where I will do something i am passoniate about.
As it turns out there was no dreaded 10-page research paper that had to be written. On our first day of class we were assigned to get a subscription to the Sunday edition of the New York Times. I thought this was strange, and my professor, Michael Moore, told us this would be our “text book” for the next 10 weeks. Following our subscription, our first assignment was to summarize the NYT article” Odors, Soap, and Politics”. There were no guidelines and my first draft ended up being long and wordy. We were then introduced to the rhetorical precis method. I had never heard of our used this method and my second draft ended up being to the point, short, and thorough. Along with this article, we also wrote several other rhetorical précis to make sure we had the process engraved in our heads. I know my ability to summarize has improved greatly. I feel as if I can summarize all types of genres of articles successfully and accurately. This method is very useful, and I have already begun to use it for my other classes. As I mentioned before writing never seems to have enough structure for me, and with this method I am given exact guidelines, which strays me away from going off topic or being too wordy. These summaries help fulfill one of the learning outcomes for FYW: rhetorical knowledge. Along with completing a FYW learning outcome, I also accomplished a personal goal. By reading the NYT I became more updated on current events, and it often made me think critically.
For our next assignment, we were assigned to write a Letter to the Editor. For this you are to choose an article that has been published in the last sever days and write a short 150 word response to the article. I choose to write mine on the article, "Is an Egg for Breakfast Worth This". The article talked about the food industry and how people expect low food prices and humane animal treatment. In my letter, I explained how society needs to accept the fact that if they want animals to receive better treatment, then they need to except that the price of food is going to go up, or they need to choose brands that treat there animals right. Along with a letter to the editor, we also wrote an Op-Ed essay. This assignment was by far my favorite assignment. The conventions for this essay were limited and this was the first time in 19 years that I was able to write about what ever I wanted. I choose to write my essay about the controversy of Plan B One Step being sold in a vending machine at Shippensburg University. I researched the topic, and when I wrote it, I enjoyed it. I was passionate about the subject and I think it showed in my work. Each of these essays had revisions and made me think critically, perform research, read articles, and they also made me think why I care about the topic. In my opinion theses essays successfully satisfied the critical reading, writing, and thinking learning outcome.
Another goal I set for myself was to start my work ahead of time instead of wait until last minute. In WRD 103 I often found myself waiting until last minute to write my papers. When I would re-read over them after already turning them in, I would find several mistakes and because of this my grade suffered. In WRD 104 I believe I did a better job of not procrastinating. For most of my essays, especially our rhetorical analysis, I found myself to be using a writing process, due to the help and guidance of Professor Moore. For our contextual analysis, we were first assigned to write the paper in steps. Unlike any other class I have taken he gave us a luxurious amount of time to think and write. For my paper, I choose the question, “Are teenagers in America really careless”. By doing research I learned a lot out both our generation, and the generations before. The gap between teenagers and adults almost seemed comical to me, because as most articles assured me their parents were once exactly like them at one time or another. This analysis challenged me, because at times I found myself only giving off much of my opinion instead of factual data. The first step we took in the pcocess was to create a word net. This allowed us to brainstorm our topics and ideas. We then wrote a proposal, which gave us time to explore our topic, and figure out if our question was even researchable. After that we began writing our drafts. All three of my drafts can be found under the process tab. For my first drafts I mostly did all the research and got a general idea of what I needed to write about on paper. From there I tied the paper together and added transitions so it would flow. Along with re-reading my paper out loud, I also sent it off to the writing center and got their feedback on what I needed to change. In addition, I also received feedback from my peers, which was helpful because they gave me fresh ideas and new directions my paper could go in. Also editing and peer-reviewing my classmate’s essays helped me to better write my contextual analysis.
Along with writing, reading the New York Times played a big role in our class. We would have discussions about the articles we read, and often times heated disagreements. By doing this, I have become both more informed and intellectual. One of my proudest moments of the year came from reading the New York Times. One night while I was at dinner with my sister and dad. My sister, Annie, brought up the article, "The Purpose of Spectacular Wealth, According to a Spectacularly Wealthy Guy", and began talking about it to my dad as if I would have had no idea what she was talking about. When I said, “oh yah, I read that the other day in the NYT”, both of their jaws dropped to the floor. I smiled with pride and actually participated in the conversation. For once I felt like a mature adult. From that one artilce we began talking about other interesting articles and ended having a long dinner. Professor Moore would constantly quote Arthur Miller and say, “A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself ”. At first I did not understand the quote, but after dinner I finally understood. The New York Times contains some news, but a lot more of opinion based articles and stories. The writers are taking to the readers, and the readers respond, and talk about it with others striking interesting conversation. Therefore the nation is talking to itself, and with the feedback, the newspaper can understand what is working and what is not and the cycle will start over again.
Although disputable, the NYT is in my opinion is a liberal paper. Although I tend to stray away from reading anything having to do with politics, when I did read there articles I could tell they leaned toward a more liberal point of view. Towards the end of the semester, we were assigned to write a short reflection on were we stood politically with the NYT. In my reflection, I wrote how I had no stance, because until recently I have had no reason to care. In addition, we were also assigned to write another reflection about serendipity. The assignment was simple. We had to spend 15 minutes looking through books at the library. I did it, and although I did not enjoy it, it was a good learning experience. In my opinion there two assignments met the knowledge of convention learning outcome for FYW because I learned how write for a different audience and genre. When we were assigned these, Professor Moore told us they needed to be honest. I am so use to curving my writing to please my teacher; it was both strange and difficult to actually write what I thought.
As I write this final conclusion, I realized how much I have learned from this class. Although I will never again be taking a writing class, the writing does not stop here. The skills I have learned will be carried on for the rest of my life. I honestly feel WRD 04 was one of the best classes I have ever taken. It helped me think outside the box, and realize knowledge is power. I not only learned a lot about the writing process, but about myself. I realized passion is important in everything you do, and without it you are not truly living. Because of this class I have become more intellectual, and I hope that my work in this portfolio reflects that idea.