Here we are! The final days of my first semester of college. Time goes fast when you’re booked and busy. One of my favorite psychologists, Jordan Peterson, said, “Don’t compare yourself with other people; compare yourself with who you were yesterday. No one gets away with anything, ever, so take responsibility for your own life”. So now it’s time to reflect on my progression throughout this course, and if the responsibility bared by taking this course has brought meaningful growth.
There’s some things I know I have definitely aced thanks to the assignments offered. One of those being how I improved my ability to formulate and articulate my stances through and in my writing. Professor Harris gave the class a lot of leeway when it comes to choosing which topics/ideas we got to write about. Doing this was one of the many reasons the class was so enjoyable for me! The assignments never had to be boring to complete because I had a say on what I would choose to write. This feature also allowed me to learn how I can negotiate my own writing goals and audience expectations regarding conventions of genre, medium, and rhetorical situation. Choosing topics that would cater to the assignment descriptions, but also allow me to have a more fun writing because I got to focus on topics I had genuine interest in.
Since I got to touch on topics that genuinely interested me it made the researching process way less intimidating as I thought it would be. Probably because my genuine interest helped me get a better idea of what keywords would make the researching process easier. For Essay #3, I actually touched on a topic I was reading about which helped me find the keywords needed. Although this made researching easier for me it helped me understand the value of being precise in your speech when its time to research which is not something I was familiar with before. Googling to find more information about something is very different than looking for information on a database. It also requires a different citation process which I was not necessarily expecting. Throughout high school I learned how to utilize the MLA format to organize my citations when I had papers, but this class was my first introduction to APA. At first, I was extremely intimidated by the new format, but all the resources provided by Professor Harris made the process a lot easier.
Group discussions and peer review sessions also helped me progress as a writer. Since my classmates and I were all researching different topics we got to advise each other on a different range of issues, because no one was familiar with the content in each other’s pieces. I think this improved the peer review gatherings because everyone had to take time to read each other’s content and because they usually were not familiar with the content they could give a fresh perspective on what information could be missing and supplemented. This also made the differences between our writing styles very distinct! Seeing how my peers writing seemingly changed with the variety of assignment expectations and topic shifts introduced me to different ways to evolve my own writing.
The peer review sessions specifically influenced how I formatted my drafts. For Essay #1 I was pretty intimidated by the assignment requirements and overall structure. This caused me to format the draft in a very minimalistic way:
Yeah, I know. Future me is probably looking through this and saying, “Jeez, lazy much”? Yet, I was genuinely perplexed about how to start off the assignment. When Professor Harris encouraged us to all work together and advise one other throughout our peer review segment of class I did not know it’d have such a huge impact on how I’d begin drafting essays in the future! They helped me get a better idea of how to draft, and made me realize I did not have to be a perfectionist. The most important thing is to actually begin!
Since Professor Harris made it a point to have us consistently engage in peer review with every essay, and also when it was time to comment on each other’s discussion posts it allowed me to sharpen my reading and revising skills. By consistently being expected to assess one another and knowing your work will also be assessed it motivated me to be an efficient writer. I also began to assess myself differently. I would see how my peer’s ‘shitty first drafts’ would become eloquent essays. Realizing that no writer is inherently perfect helped me be more empathetic. I began to understand that the feelings of inadequacy tend to be apart of the writing process, and was able to critic my own writing from a more neutral perspective.
“What is writing?”
Writing on its own is inherently lonely and sometimes requires a lot of emotional energy. The task of piecing your thoughts in a way that is not only coherent, but easily digestible for a sometimes unknown audience can seem impossible to manage. Even if you can do the heavy lifting to get it done, doing it efficiently takes a lot of energy and effort. Professor Harris’ method of breaking down our essays throughout the class periods with the peer revision made the process easier to bear. I feel like the class structure and the arrangement of the syllabus allowed for all participants to hit the mark in regards to the class’ learning objectives. As long as you are a present and proactive participant in the course the development of all these skills and insights were extremely plausible.
Lewis Black, an American stand-up comedian, once said, “Writing is thinking and thinking is hard work”. This is the essence of writing. Once you cultivate your writing skills your thought pattern sharpens, and efficient speech is vital. Not only in an academic setting, but simply because we are social beings. Thoughts are best organized through writing, and that’s the most important reasoning to begin writing. Although I have always valued English I believe that if I knew the power writing had in regards to becoming a better person, and communicator I would have taken it even more seriously.
No matter if I never take an English/Writing course again I plan to write in my journal daily. The classes schedule which kept us consistently writing allowed me to fall in love with writing all over again. I am thankful for this experience. I hope other courses in the future positively influence me as much as this one has.
P.S. You hit the mark, all of my classmates did. We made it!