i “There Is No Wrong Or Right, Just Write” | College Writing: Debate(s) In Higher Education
14. December 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Reflective Essay

Morgan Tollard

Writing is an outlet for people to not only present information, but to channel inner creativity. Though writing is one use of communication aside from face to face contact, it has become censored. In my sophomore year at Fond du Lac High School an article was published by a student member of the Cardinal Columns, the school newspaper. “The Rape Joke” was an article about sexual abuse, with the intent to bring awareness to the students about sexual assault. The article sparked a huge debate throughout the city. Though many saw the article as full of knowledge and important awareness for students, the administration deemed the article as inappropriate and violent. Therefore, the school enacted a censorship policy for the Cardinal Columns, as stated in Andrew Philip’s article. The implemented policy forced the members of the Cardinal Columns to send their articles in to the administration for them to review and edit. This situation brought my attention the importance of exercising the ability to write. Writing is one of the key means of communication, and therefore it is important that people, including students, continue to keep practicing their writing.

Through the IDIS writing course at St. Norbert College, I have improved my writing through many ways. Prior to this class, I was very involved with my writing. I had taken one or more English classes every single of year of high school and was one of the lead editors to our high school newspaper. Through these experiences I thought that I had developed decent writing techniques. I was surprised when I got my placement writing test scores back at the beginning of the year and I was placed into a writing intensive “recovery” course, or as it was described to me. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in myself. When I started the course I was very unreceptive to the class. Although I thought I knew much of the lectures and lessons, after I started to complete the daily forums and homework and I was surprised to find that I was learning and practicing new techniques to improve my writing, along with being exposed to a broad range of topics to research and express my opinion about. The techniques ranged from sentence and paragraph structure to argumentative tactics and skills.  

Our first assignment in the class was centered around the broad topic of college. We read and discussed articles around student debt and liberal arts education. Through these topics, our class could assess ourselves and conclude our thoughts on why we were in college. In my blog post 1 article I could express my argument on the brokenness of the United States student loan system, while also discussing my opinion on the importance of a liberal arts education. Although this was my first blog draft for this class, I feel as though this was a string draft. I was very passionate and obtained prior knowledge on the topics, so I was able to build a strong argument. The obstacle that stood in my way during the writing of this blog was the lack of voice throughout the second half of the blog. Though, in the beginning I stayed strong with the use of evidence and voice throughout the first two paragraphs, but towards the ending paragraphs my voice becomes hidden and the evidence becomes over powering, especially through the paragraph discussing the ALIVE program. Yet, overall this blog post was still interesting and I found it fun to reread.

Our second assignment surrounded the topic of what we, as students, would like our classrooms to look like. Through reading articles and watching videos surrounding the discussion of classroom settings, I again found myself very passionate about this topic. One of the articles that was most discussed in lecture was an article written by Steven Conn, discussing his thoughts on “helicopter” teachers and how overbearing they are for the classroom setting. I could ignite a passion through discussing one of my most favorite and inspirational teachers, Mr. Alanis, who’s description fit Conn’s article. Through this blog post 2 article, I used a personal anecdote as evidence bringing a personal touch to my argument on how a classroom should be structured. I also provided a counter claim paragraph, as learned in the lecture and PowerPoint, “10/26 Acknowledge and Respond to Objections.” After receiving feedback on my article and taking another look the center of concern was focused around, again, the second half of the blog. Towards the end, I provided too much evidence around Alexandria Floodstrand’s thoughts and provided very little reflection and response to her testimony. This lead the evidence to become overpowering, with very little personal reflection in response to this evidence.

Our third assignment was collected around a broad range of topics, unlike the previous assignments. blog post 3 was more involved in the research base and discovering which topic to pursue. In class, we went over many different topics such as: student drinking, sexual assault and college athletics. After researching the topics listed above, I became very interested surrounding the topic of college athletics in the NCAA. This blog post became an argumentative article surrounded with textual evidence. Because of my background in newspaper writing, through my involvement with the high school newspaper, argumentative writing supported by textual evidence was straightforward for me. In the second paragraph, I provided an argument and response paragraph again, to make a strong argument. I used a good amount of evidence, while letting my voice and personal thoughts shine through. I felt as though this blog post was my most well done piece and exemplified many of the lessons taught throughout the course.

Our last assignment, blog post 4, was again centered around a broad range of topics, like blog post 3. In blog post 4, were assigned to write about something research and write about a specific social problem that we find at St. Norbert College. I found the articles relating to diversity on campus very interesting and decided to write about that. Using textual evidence, I created an argumentative blog post about diversity at St. Norbert, providing evidence from articles on situations in other areas, but also evidence from teachers on campus. I, again, used an acknowledgment and response paragraph to make my argument stronger. Through receiving feedback on this blog, the main concern arises with the organization of the paragraphs and enhancing the personal thought and voice throughout the article.

Although it was hard to hear sometimes, the feedback and advice given, could help my writing grow even more. After the first couple areas of feedback had been given out I started to notice a correlation between all the feedback I had been given. The most common area of concern within my first couple pieces of writing was centered around the quoting of my textual evidence. My quotations of my textual evidence was too long and overpowered my own voice through my writing. I was relying too much on the evidence to do to the talking, and therefore my own thoughts and ideas became hidden underneath. Through our daily assignments, I practiced providing my textual evidence in a way that was able to back up my argument, but also allow my own voice to shine through. Another correlation between all the feedback that was given on my writing dealt with the organizational piece of my writing. A lot of my paragraphs weren’t in a structural order that made the most sense. After taking a look at my pieces of writing I would have to rearrange my paragraphs to make them make the most sense. Although I have been paying more attention to these items, especially my 4th blog post, I still need to work on the organization of my papers and allowing my voice to rise up against the evidence.

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