December 13, 2005
A Little Clarification
I guess a little clarification is required for my â€śWhat the hell?â€? blog. I can see that some people my have been a little irritated, but I felt putting peopleâ€™s names down was harmless. This is an informal forum for us to express our ideas, concerns, and general feedback on class and work issues. I donâ€™t think we should hold the blog comments to any standards that we wouldnâ€™t apply to talking to each other in the classroom or work.
Yes, the blog is a public forum, as witnessed by Mr. Hairâ€™s blog receiving a comment from an escort service. However, we arenâ€™t using last names and how many people outside us are really reading this. Yes, I was being very critical of many people, but I did not omit myself in that blog. I just wanted us to recognize what was going on.
I hope I didnâ€™t ruffle anyoneâ€™s feathers, but I had to spit some posts out and that was one of the things floating around in my head. Fact is, if I hadnâ€™t let myself get so behind with my blogs, I probably wouldnâ€™t have felt it necessary to make that post. So if I pissed off someone with that rant, I am sorry. Nothing personal
December 11, 2005
Revision, Revision, Revision...
What tedium. I can now see why I never tried to do heavy revision before. So far I have revised my entire literacy autobiography, and about half of my inquiry paper. The one thing I know is that I will be able to meet Kirstenâ€™s requirement for radical revision. I decided to try and focus on a specific aspect of my pieces and not try not to write about so many things. What this means is I can say more about my topic and be clearer about it. Does this mean it will be better, who knows. Well, maybe Kirsten doesâ€¦
Now I am wondering about my reflection, but I think it should be ok because I will have my big paper for history done by Monday, except for a little tweaking, and Iâ€™ll have time to work on it. I have to say though that Kirstenâ€™s comments on my inquiry confused the hell out of me. Hopefully when I talk to her next week I should have a clearer picture.
How have you guys felt with Kirstenâ€™s feedback? I still felt that the amount of revision is a little vague and what is good revision. When Rick completely changed his literacy autobiography, he received a lot of praise from Kirsten, but why should you have to completely a piece in order to get a good grade? Whatâ€™s the point in the first draft in the first place? And who is to say that the first draft is less valuable? I donâ€™t know either. I know that when I plan a paper carefully, that changing it so radically has no real place in my revision process, but I can see the value in revising a piece that lacks such planning.
December 7, 2005
So, Iâ€™m a little concerned about whether or not my papers will meet the requirements that Kirsten has set out for us. With this said, I donâ€™t feel too confident in the grade Iâ€™ll receive an A in this course. I consider my GPA the most important factor for my future goals of grad school, so even a B+ can screw me. I was hoping that this class would have been more about how to improve ourselves as consultants, not writing these essays. I can see how learning how to do â€śradical revisionâ€? can help us be better consultants, but I consider writing a big pain in the ass sometimes.
Combine this with these blogs and the other work I am doing in other classes, this has been my busiest semester at the U so far. To get my work done, Iâ€™ve been in the Center some nights until 8-9 in the evening. Itâ€™s nice having access to a quite place to study, a printer, and copier. I hope I can continue this at the new center.
My biggest problem on my inquiry paper has been my lack of good sources, which I didnâ€™t solve until about 2 weeks ago. Now, it is a matter of adding these insights to my existing paper, and this will likely have the effect of a â€śradical revision.â€? I donâ€™t know how much time I will be able to devote to revising my papers, but I think I can get the job done. I just wonâ€™t be able to sleep this weekend. Ahhhâ€¦Sleepâ€¦
What the Hell?!
What the hell is it with you guys? When we have been doing these classroom consultations recently, some of you arenâ€™t even trying to be consulted. Itâ€™s like you donâ€™t think you should be consulted by anyone, let alone a classmate. First Ben decides to take a nap, not even wanting to really work on his paper (in his defense, he did seem really exhausted), Elana comes with a bunch of questions (basically a brainstorming session), Claire does about the same, and yesterday, Adam had a bunch of stuff that he had gotten back from Kirsten, but didnâ€™t want to work on it with anyone yet. While I think Elanaâ€™s and Claireâ€™s sessions were likely useful as maybe helping them get some direction from a new source, Adam had something, but his unwillingness to work on it was a problem. He kept saying â€śitâ€™s nothing personal,â€? but how can it be anything but.
I honestly felt that I really was in the role of consultee with Adam yesterday. I let go of the idea that if I couldnâ€™t see these issues, no one else will. I think we need to let go of the ego during our being consulted in class. The whole point is to give us a chance to be the student that we usually consult. It didnâ€™t hurt that I already knew that my paper needed heavy revision and if Adam could help with some of these issues, it would help me in finishing it. To ignore this chance to really open ourselves to this is irresponsible.
While not every session I had with people in class seemed as wasteful as others, I still felt like others were being dismissive towards my suggestions and didnâ€™t seem like they really wanted them in the first place. I know I also had a difficult time letting go of this notion, but I know Iâ€™ve been trying, and at least succeeding a little. I just want us to take the sessions a bit more seriously because it feels disrespectful to the person who may be trying to really help you with your work.
December 5, 2005
My inquiry paper is almost done, but it has had the unexpected effect of not only examining the way our center works, but also how my own major works. I had received a history paper that received a good grade, but I thought it could have been better, but I wasn't sure what the TA meant by his comments. I decided to meet with the instructor to get an idea on how I could improve the piece, regardless of whether or not he would let me revise and resubmit for a better grade. I just wanted to know how to be a better writer of history.
Our discussion found its way into how the major teaches historical writing, or the lack thereof. I told him in all honesty, I have never taken a class that taught me how to write a history paper, and that I thought it was very necessary for the major to make some kind of requisite course that taught the majors this very thing. He said the department has been struggling with this very same issue for some time, and that he had attending meeting to this affect. To my surprise, he recommended that with my background that I might be the perfect kind of student to have the faculty talk to about this.
Now, to bring this back to the Center, we see a good number of history students, whether they are majors or not. These students have the similar issues to most other students, but majors in particular are at a big disadvantage when they see us because most of us don't know what a good history paper should look like, with the exception of Tovah and Polly. These students are forced to try to meet their instructors or TAs who likely have little time to help them with these issues. So if we can't help them and their instructors can't help them, where does that leave them.
Now this isn't particularly unique to history either. Most other disciplines lack any fundamental writing instruction that is worthwhile, so this is a problem we face in the center regularly. We are forced to help these students in generalities, and often hedge our suggestions admitting our own ignorance. None of this helps.
What we, as writing consultants, should do is make our voices heard in regards to these issues we see in writing among these disciplines. Granted, many of the consultants are English majors, and for them, developing their writing abilities is paramount. For those of us outside of English, we need to speak with professors and get them to see the flaws in the system where a "writing-intensive" course often only entails writing an extra paper for the class.
Yeah I know, the title is dumb, but the other day, I had a student come in for one of those obesity essays that Kim and Kit I think are assigning. We did a relatively routine session that looked at clarity and argument and such. However, since this student was Japanese, I was able to notice something on much more specific level than I think most other consultants would have been able to do. I know I have gone on about this before, but I thought this was really cool.
The student was trying to make a point about kids drinking "sweetened juices" being a factor in childhood obesity. The thing is, I had just learned in my Japanese class that sometimes when Japanese say "juice" in Japanese, they actually mean a whole gamut of flavored beverages from 100% juice, to Coca-cola. This is actually a big problem in the Japanese language in general concerning the entrance of foreign words and the differences in the Japanese meanings from those in their original language.
So, I questioned her as to whether she meant only sweetened juices such as Hi-C and Sunny Delight, or did she actually mean to include soda and other flavored beverages that are also sweetened heavily. She said yes, and explained the differences, as I perceived them, and recommended she use a term like "sweetened soft drinks" to better articulate herself. She was surprised to know this difference. Now whether that improved her paper or not, correcting a NNS student's incorrect use of a word I believe is important. To me, sweetened juices is like Hi-C and Sunny-D.
I think since we most of us have to study a foreign language in school, it is incumbent upon us to use every tool we have to help our student. But not I'm just ramblingâ€¦Later
November 11, 2005
In the past few days I have had a couple of history students. So far, I think I've only had 3, including my most recent. I really felt at home working w/ them and I really feel I was able to help at least one of my two recent students while I hope I gave the other some ideas on how to expand and strengthen her work. I really liked being able to use what I've learned and apply it to my sessions. I had to rein myself in a few times to make sure I didn't overwhelm or direct the student too much, but it felt pretty good overall. I felt especially familiar w/ the first history student's work because I had taken a course w/ that professor and I could apply the strategies that I used in that class to help him. The second one's coursework less so, but I was still familiar w/ the type of assignment and helped her look at it a bit differently that seemed to help.
This all goes to my topic of tutoring in disciplines. I definitely felt more comfortable working w/ students studying history, but at the same time, I couldn't imagine only seeing history students. The fact is, I know I've benefited at least a few students who informed me of the good grades they received. So, I guess what I'm saying is that fell like I'm working harder outside of history and the few other subjects I've taken an avid interest in. Well, I've talked enough here...later
November 9, 2005
Necessity of Language Selection at Attending
Hokay, so I've been wondering about the necessity of having such a detailed language selection at attending for a while now, but an incident last week reminded me of it. A student came in to make an appointment and the attendant, not me but I did witness it, asked for the student's native language and because it wasn't on the list, it became a bit awkward w/ the student asking why it was necessary and so on. The attendant did a good job of explaining the reasons as best he knew them, but the student wound up saying he didn't want to make an appointment because of the language issue. Well, luckily, the attendant was able to persuade the student to make an appointment and everything was hunky-dory. My point is, why should it be so difficult and how can we fix that. While the majority of students have little or no problem w/ this, and a few will eventually have issues w/ it.
What we need is a clear explanation that defines why we need this information that the student’s will accept and not take it as some kind of judgment or different treatment because of their language status. I think this should be consistent and clear to all attendants so that we can avoid these problems. Granted, while we can’t please everyone, we can at least show a bit more consistency and have a clear-cut policy to present to the students.
The other part of this issue that I keep trying to get my head around is the need to be some damn specific in the first place. Can’t we just list students as NNS students so that our consultants can be aware of each student’s possible needs? This would immediately eliminate the before mentioned episode because all the attendant would have needed to do was to list him as a NNS student and finish the appointment.
I just thought that this could be improved in some way, but I know my suggestions might be impractical or untenable because of certain factors that I am not aware of. End of rant…Later
October 29, 2005
A Rough Week
Whew! This was one long week. I don't know about you guys, but midterms sort of snuck up on me. I was really tempted to try and get someone to cover one of my days, probably Wednesday, but, I thought better of it. I had a history midterm, a progress report on my research topic for my other history class, and then a Japanese exam. Well I think I did well in most, but the reason I am writing about this, as it is supposed to relate to our work as consultants, is that I actually felt, for the first time, like I didn't want to tutor any students last week. Well, maybe not all of the time, but at least part of it. Anyways, I've been trying not to outwardly hope for a no-show or cancellation because I think the students who might be in the center when one of us says something like, "I hope my guy no-shows." I guess I look at it as we're getting paid to do this, so if a student doesn't come in, well that is wasting the time that another student might be able to use. This week, I think I had one or two cancellations, but then I was given a walk in to replace those students, so the only respite I received was from attending.
October 18, 2005
Technology suck ass!! I can't believe the pain in the ass I'm having right now! So last night, I did some writing on my Inquiry paper, and instead of saving it to my falsh drive, I decided it would be more convenient to email it to myself. Well, my mistake was using my own U account to do it. So here I am, attending, and I thought this would be a perfect time to wrap it up. Well, NOOOOO! The files I sent can't be download on any computer here, and a file that I had previously sent myself, and viewed w/ no problems, but now I'm screwed!