While reading this article, I was constantly thinking about the correlation to WWII and the current war we are facing. First off, Hitler was exterminating innocent people by the millions. Likewise, Islamic extremists have murdered millions, weather that be women, Americas, or anyone with interests contrasting their own. Kats states, “For Hitler, technological expediency serves to make mass extermination seem not only necessary, but just and honorable” (265). This is exactly what Islamic extremists are doing to justify the slaying of innocent people. Hitler was determined that anyone who was no part of the “master race” needed to be exterminated as a course of morality. Thus, he considered his plan technically justified, just as extremists do.
I also found the memo at the beginning fascinating. If I had not been told this memo was about concentration camps, I would assume it had something to do with a van needing fixed. Once I realized what it was talking about, I was absolutely disgusted! The way the SS could speak so carelessly without consideration to human life is unthinkable As Katz explains, they used metaphors to denote people as a means of ethical expediency. Horrible! Nazis had no respect for human life. They just wanted a means to an end.
From what I understand of the “What’s Practical About Technical Writing” article, Miller is questioning whether or not technical writing is actually helping students. My answer to this is… somewhat. College is great at educating students, but it’s not so good at giving those students practical field experience. If you ask me, college is a little too focused on the traditional essay format. From the moment we started learning to write, we were instilled with the traditional five-paragraph essay format. And although I think that format is great for middle and high school, it’s not practical for college. When graduates get out into the “real world” they are overwhelmed because they did not learn to properly write for their profession (such as engineers, doctors, and lawyers, as the article suggests). I think the best way to address this is to have writing courses specifically engineered to focus on the aspects of writing for the given area of study. For example, I think engineering majors should have a specific technical writing class designated to writing in an engineering fashion.
I really felt for Gloria Anzaldua while reading “How to Tame a Wild Tongue.” This woman was basically an outcast because she speaks Spanish and had an accent. People would look at her differently and not take her as seriously if she did not learn English and get rid of her accent.
In a way, I can relate to this. I was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas and lived there until I was five. That was where I learned to walk and talk, and I still consider it my hometown. Then my family moved to a small town in Iowa, where the other children considered me an outcast because I had a thick Southern accent. I specifically remember the first time I met the girl living up the street. The first thing she said to me was, “You talk funny. What’s wrong with you?” As a five year old, those words were absolutely devastating! All I wanted was to make friends, but no one liked me because I spoke differently than them. I quickly learned to hide my accent, and I basically lost it within a couple of months. We moved to Omaha the next year, and I finally had a Midwest accent with a slight Southern twang. Over the years, I have completely lost my accent, but Arkansas will always be close to my heart. The accent still comes naturally to me, and sometimes my twang or an occasional “y’all” slips out. My mom and I went back for a visit last summer, and I picked up the accent again for the week we were there. It felt so natural and right.
It was hard enough being an outcast in my own country for having an accent, so I can’t imagine being from another country and told you have to lose your language and accent, such as Anzaldua had to do. A line that really struck me from our reading is, “So, if you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity–I am my language.” It hurt me so badly that the neighbor girl made fun of my accent because she was making fun of my identity. Although I haven’t lived in Arkansas for 16 years, I still consider myself a true and proud Arkansas girl.
Shift in language has been seen consistently over the course of American history. First, the Native Americans were forced to shift from their native language as a way to “civilize” them. Next, the majority of people spoke German in America around the Revolutionary War. Since gaining our independence, America shifted to predominately speaking English. While we were shifting, America was bilingual, speaking both German and English. This can be seen today as immigrants come to America.
While I was working yesterday, a family of Mexican immigrants bought flowers from me. The mother obviously did not speak English, but her three young children did. The eldest daughter, who was probably in her early teens, completed the transaction and translated for her mother. The children spoke perfect English to each other and me, but they spoke Spanish with their mother. The children will most likely always be bilingual, but their children could shift to English. In this case, they would see a bottom-to-top death of Spanish in their immediate family.
But then again, America could soon be experiencing another shift in language, and those children would never lose Spanish. I personally don’t think America will ever lose English as its primary language and experience another shift, but I do think it will have to make room for other languages. With so many Mexican and other immigrants coming to America, Spanish is becoming a major language. This can be seen in school all around the country. Spanish is quickly becoming a mandatory class for all students, and very young children are learning the language through television shows and other means. I strongly think America will become a bilingual nation within the next 20-or-so years.
I honestly don’t know how I feel about Nofsinger. On one hand, I feel as if I spent a lot of time reading an article about basic common sense. Most people already know proper etiquette when it comes to everyday conversation. It’s something that we all practice on a daily basis without even thinking about it. We all understand TRP’s, interruption, overlap, and pauses, but we never bother putting a name to them because they are all so obvious.
On the other hand, I was fascinated with the article. Like most people, I have never really thought about turn organization and etiquette; it’s just something I have always practiced. It was interesting that someone put a name to and studied the various conversational aspects. I found the section over interruption and overlap the most interesting. Everyone has that one friend who can’t keep his or her mouth shut during a conversation and has to chime-in on everything. It’s not always rude, but it sure is annoying! I always get really irritated when I am interrupted, so I thought it was fun reading about it.
While reading this article I kept thinking, “I wonder if other countries have the same turn organization that we do?” I haven’t studied other cultures in depth, so I have no idea how they converse. I think it would be very interesting to study this and see how cultures differ in terms of conversation and turn organization.
Attached is the URL for my website. My main idea is to persuade professors, primarily composition professors, to stop discussing their personal political affiliations and opinions during class. I also wish to persuade composition teachers to abandon the idea of assigning political writing assignments. I spent a great deal of time and energy creating this website, so I hope you enjoy it!
One of my greatest pet peeves is politics in the classroom. If you ask me, it has absolutely no business being there. It wasn’t a problem in my high school because teachers were forbidden from discussing their beliefs. It was a complete culture shock when I came to college and about 70% of my teachers outwardly expressed their political views. In fact, during the election one of my teachers endorsed President Obama nearly every class. Last year I had a professor express that President Obama was a god and President Bush was the devil. I almost walked out of class that day because I was so disgusted! Hairston’s reminded me of this professor because she used her educational power to push her own agenda –including racism, sexism, feminism, and liberalism- onto her students. If you ask me, any teacher who outwardly shows or teaches about his or her political views deserves to be fired.
That being said, I do not have a problem if teacher want to discuss politics as long as all viewpoints are looked at and analyzed equally. Although, I think a freshmen writing, or English Comp, class should be focused on writing. As Hairston states, “Writing courses, especially required freshman courses, should not be for anything or about anything other than writing itself, and how one uses it to learn and think and communicate.” These basic English classes should not focus on literature or analytical practice, it should be focused on teaching the basics of writing. Later Hairston states, “They do not need to be assigned essays to read so they will have something to write about-they bring their subjects with them: the writing of others, except for that of their fellow students, should be supplementary, used to illustrate or reinforce.” I had a wonderful teacher for my English comp 1 classes who practiced this, and I appreciated it greatly. I learned so much about my writing from her because we focused on writing and critical thinking without using politics.
Politics in freshmen writing courses, as Hairston explains, is detrimental because freshmen minds are so easily molded. They are typically fresh out of high school and possibly living on their own for the first time. And, if done correctly, they are easily persuaded or manipulated. These teachers are basically requiting students to their own political agenda, and it needs to end immediately. I think one way to do this is to center a writing course around its primary objective, writing. I think readings are important, but in a freshmen course they need to exclude politics. If politics for some reason needs to be discussed, then teachers should to examine all sides of the argument without bias. Let the students make their own decisions. College should be about learning, not a professor’s political agenda.
I think Gerald Graff’s article is, by far, my favorite article we have read so far. While reading this article I kept thinking, “wow, this guy really gets it!” I love literature, but I hate taking lit classes because the professor is typically very one-sided in beliefs and interpretations. I had a fantastic teacher in high school who told us that there is no one true meaning to most literature; everyone has their own interpretations, and the majority of them could be right.
I had to read Heart of Darkness for a class last semester, and my professor was very one-sided about the novella. We also read Achebe’s essay, but we were still only allowed to believe in our professor’s interpretation about both works. If we had a different interpretation of them and professed it on our test, then we would be downgraded. Unfortunately, I have learned to put aside my own interpretation of texts and write about my professor’s interpretations so I can receive a good grade. This is pathetic considering there is no one Truth to a text. No one person can know the exact meaning on these pieces of work considering its authors are dead. Its not like we can communicate through the grave, that is, unless you are psychic. Graff quotes Mr. Crews in saying, “Literature is a site of struggle whose primary conflicts, both intrapsychic and social, deserve to be brought to light rather than homogenized into notions of fixed authorial ‘values.’ ” This is exactly right. We cannot continue to only listen to our professor’s interpretations, we, as students, need to have our own meanings. I think the best way to teach a literature class is to examine several other interpretations of the text and let students decide which one they think is most valuable. We need to stop believing everything our teachers tell us, and learn to be our own person.
Graff primarily focused on racism when examining Heart of Darkness and how Conrad was racist towards the natives, but I think it goes beyond that. Conrad lived in a time of absolute racism. Teachers should not teach students that Conrad was a horrible person because, typically, most people though Blacks were disgusting creatures who were only meant only to be slaves. Teachers need to explain that this was how most people of that period thought, and it was accepted to do so. Educators need to let students think of how we have developed and changed our ways of thinking since that period, and make Heart of Darkness into a historical lesson as well as an interpretative exercise.
There is nothing that can compare to opening a brand new book and holding it in your hands while reading. All you fellow book readers know what I am talking about when I say that I love the smell of books. For me, the smell is comforting and something to look forward to. I’m not trying to diss digital books such as the Nook, Kindle, or iPad because I think they are wonderful; that is, if you like reading off a screen. I have always been the kind of person who needs a printed source right in front of me. For example, I have had several teachers require digital textbooks, but I cannot even look at them because I HATE reading off a screen.
Quite honestly, I had a horrible time reading the Kairos article simply because it was online. I normally print online sources, but you simply could not do that with this article because there were so many links. I could only comprehend about half of what I was reading because of my intense hatred for reading online. Maybe I have such qualms about online reading that I mentally could not allow myself to comprehend the words, but I finally pushed through after a lot of internal struggle.
I think online articles or readings are wonderful for people who don’t mind looking at a screen. There are so many advantages to reading online articles, but I just cant do it. These online sources usually have links that send you to another source for more information, or they allow you to click on words to find their meaning, but that just annoys me for some reason. I will gladly stick to printing my sources or reading a book. I love technology and all of its wonderful tools, but it deeply saddens me that books are becoming obsolete. This is the way of the new century, so I better get over my qualms and join it.
Throughout reading Murray’s article, I had to keep reminding myself that this was written in 1972. For the most part, I thought, “This is how I learned to write.” It surprised me how strongly against examining literature as a means for teaching writing Murray is. I have to agree with him on this. Although literature is a good tool for teaching, I don’t think it should be teacher’s only way of teaching writing. It is basically telling students that they have to write like these authors, or they are stupid. These pieces of literature are perfectly finished products, and they do not teach a student how to achieve this perfection. A lot of students think their first draft needs to be perfect because it is their finished draft, and this simply is not the case. This is one part of Murray’s process of writing.
By saying writing is a process, Murray means that there are several steps one must go through before they can create a paper to be proud of. It is essential to teach our students how to form a good paper, but we must also teach them how to critically think about the paper before he or she starts it. The first step in this process, prewriting, is the most important part, I think. It helps writers get their ideas out and narrowed down. Writers cannot begin the second step, writing, without first critically thinking about the content of their papers. Many people would say writing is the most important part because that is when the writer is actually putting words to paper – or computer-. I find this part to be the most challenging because this is where I realize if I did or did not spend enough time prewriting. This step challenges student’s writing and language skills, as well as their ability to push past frustration and create a masterpiece. I also think the third process of rewriting is essential, yet it is the step student avoid the most. Students need to practice this step so they can properly edit and add to their papers to improve their writing.
When the papers are being graded, teachers need to find ways to give corrective and positive criticism in a way that is not demeaning. I think Murray was right on target when he said, “Year after year the student shudders under the barrage of criticism, much of it brilliant, some of it stupid, and all of it irrelevant.” If a sentence does not flow, a student needs to be informed and taught how to make it flow; not just told, “This sentence is wrong.” By saying this, students do not understand what they did wrong, and thus, will not learn from their mistake. Students need to be given useful feedback so they can learn. I also think it is a great idea to allow for rewrites; this way a student can fix their mistakes, learn, and be rewarded with a better grade for their hard work.