Thursday, May 10, 2007

Learning and gaining from My Own Experience

All the way through this semester, we read, discussed and learned together a whole list of issues regarding to basic writing, basic writers as well as basic writing pedagogies. I still remembered at the first meeting in English 621 class when Dr. Cadle asked us the question of why we chose to take this class, my answering was “to learn how to write because I’m really interested in writing itself.” At that time I didn’t realize this course is actually aiming at teachers who teach basic writing rather than learning how to write as writers! So starting from kind of an inappropriate direction, I set out! Then throughout this journey, I found out that I indeed have learned a lot!!

Struggling desperately in the hardships of writing down my papers in all the three courses I’m taking this semester, and of preventing my heart from being hurt by all the difficulties I was encountering in this very process, I couldn’t figure out how much I’ve learned and gained! For my poor and sorry performance in my papers in all the three subjects, I experienced the lowest hollow of completely losing my confidence in writing and even feeling I had no hope to improve at all; I experienced the time that I almost decided to give up this course and thought writing was not my thing; I experienced feeling ashamed of myself because of my terrible performances and grades coming out…

I felt like I myself was the representative character in our readings of this course! How could that be??? But IT WAS! I for several times fell into the meditation on why I was what I was that time and how I could make a difference of myself in writing, then the reasons showed up in front of me: I telling myself the truth didn’t pay enough attention to it, didn’t work hard on it and even didn’t have the tendency of trying to make progress! In other words, I didn’t put all my heart to cultivate on it! Not because I didn’t want to improve, but because I totally lost my confidence and had been stuck there for such a long time! Because some objective stuff distracted so much my energy and attention, my work for example.For an exhausted body and heart, no improvement seemed possible!! Further I realized that as a result, I devoted too little time to my study and that’s where the root reason of everything lied! I don’t think I’m too dump to write well and incapable of making progress, and I couldn’t persuade myself to believe that’s where I was supposed to be, so I decided to do something! I spent more time on my study and consulted my classmates—I kind of dared to talk with my professors about my papers, I asked from my classmates to borrow their former papers to learn from, tried to do the readings and assignments more carefully, and by chance I once had a short talk with Dr.Cadle then I found that communications between teachers and students are of great importance and essential! We could get to know what teachers’s standards and requirements for papers and assignments are and what their constructive advices are for you, at the same time, they could know more about you, about what you are thinking and thus have more ideas and accesses to help you to improve!!

Considered as sort of a summary of my study in this semester and also as a deeper understanding of the readings of this course, my own experience helped me realize fairly a lot: I learned to reconstruct my confidence bit by bit, I got good advices and great encouragement from my professors who once wrote down the sentences as “This is a good start of a good paper…”, “good summaries and good comments, if you could work on more your sentences and grammar…”, and said to me in person the simple but powerful words “Thank you!”. I was fully filled with encouragement, motivation and strength! I really want to say to all my professors and my classmates: MANY THANKS TO YOU ALL! WITHOUT YOUR GREAT HELP, I COULDN’T MAKE PROGRESS AND REGAIN MY CONFIDENCE AS A WRITER! ALTHOUGH I STILL LACK OF A LOT IN WRITING, BUT I’LL KEEP GOING AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE OF MYSELF!!! THANK YOU AGAIN!

Reflections on the Chat with Amie Wolf (3)

To continue my former topic, I would like to explore further Amie’s talk and share more what I’ve thought about regarding to it.

Back to the old issue of whom basic writers are. Objectively speaking, basic writers are those whose writing lies in the basic level, which means that to grasp the fundamental factors of writing should be the main task for them, including appropriate formats, grammatical correctness, clear expressions, etc. As I mentioned above, that’s ONLY the OBJECTIVE and PROFESSIONAL measurement of basic writers, and also that’s just something showed up on the SURFACE, so what’s the SUBJECTIVE measurement of basic writers and what’s the value and significance of looking into this measurement? Meanwhile what’s HIDING underneath this surface and what would this finding help?

The SUBJECTIVE measurement is usually held by teachers, tutors and the people concerned. That’s something either the attitude or the judgement in these people’s mind towards basic writers, as well as how they think whom basic writers are. To me, rather than classify them into the category of the “not smart”, the “not intelligent”, even the “stupid”, I prefer to hold the opinion that they are students of the same kind who have devoted less time, energy, concentration and work on the soil of writing, which might be caused by either a sense of frustration writing once brought to them or lost of interests or indifference in writing itself. If we could think this way, my belief is that the problems we see in these students may turn out to be much easier to handle, and the burden we put on our shoulders of conducting a big project of transforming their thinking and writing ways will be alleviated, for that the students indeed in themselves have the talent and competence of writing well, the treasures have already been stored in them, thus they actually hold tremendous potentialities ready to break out ONLY IF there’s some sort of sparkle to light it up! We teachers ARE the sparkles!

As a result, a most important mission for teachers to accomplish besides giving instructions and guidance is, working on as stoneworkers polishing the rough surface of these seemingly ordinary-looking “stones” so as to let the UNIQUE brilliance in each of them SHINE OUT by firstly building up their confidence through finding out their intelligence and then showing our recognition, secondly drawing their attention and attracting their interests into writing by stirring up their willingness and eagerness to write after the training of letting them write down whatever happened and is happening in their real lives and whatever they want to express out to the outside world, finally they will realize that writing is really a true-fun, it’s an awesome medium to communicate with the rest of the world, and it can also be the most intimate friend of themselves—it’s no longer a headache boring and terrifying them! The students are becoming much more willing to improve their writing ACTIVELY and AUTONOMICALLY! At the very last, you’ll see all your goals and expectations beautifully achieved and fulfilled!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Reflections on the Chat with Amie Wolf (2)

I couldn’t agree more with Amie’s pedagogy of encouraging basic writers to “focus on narrative and autobiographies” and form a habit of “write everyday”— informally. From my own experience and also by noticing others’s, I found out that most of times, either because that we have difficulties in finding something in our mind to write down about or because that we couldn’t get anything exciting and enjoyable from the very conduct of writing, we feel that it’s boring to write and has no fun at all, furthermore, we regard it unworthy, meaningless and even procedural—to show the writing to teachers is the only purpose—as a result, we are becoming more and more reluctant to write—then no doubt, we’ll fail in the actually beautiful, magical and incredible Writing Kingdom! What a pity!!

It’s not because our life isn’t interesting at all, it’s not because we are really sorry writers, and also it’s not because we were born with no talent of writing! IT IS because we seldom pay enough attention to our daily life, seldom observe it with our eyes and minds, afterwards, feel it with our hearts! Everyone has great potential to become a wonderful writer, only if he or she tries—in appropriate guidance and direction!

Here comes the very matched way—to “focus on narrative and autobiographies” and to “write everyday” informally! WHY? Because narratives of whatever events are coming from our real daily life (here not including fictions) and autobiographies are the most widely and closely related to ourselves which would most likely fire up our eagerness and enthusiasm to write! If we could lead students to focus on these two respects of writing material, their interests of writing will be aroused for everyone has at least something to say about what happened in their real life and themselves and what’s their reflective feeling about that, gradually, they will probably unveil the mysterious muffler of Writing itself! In this process, they’ll improve their ability of observing things and if they notice more they would like to notice much more, thus they would have more and more real material to write about! Everything in their observation by then will become much more interesting and fun! It will finally mean something to them and writing will become an essential part in their life! Moreover, if we could at the same time encourage them to try to write everyday just informally regardless of all the forms and conventions and everything else which would always distract their attention on writing itself, it will for sure speed up their progress in writing!--Practice Makes Perfect!

If we could continue to stick on this pedagogy, I believe it would eventually turn out to be pretty efficient and fruitful for teaching writing!!! Both teachers and students will benefit a lot!!!