Archive for August 30, 2009

Writing “Jerry Maguire”-like – with PASSION!

I want my Kazakh students to write with passion, Jerry Maguire-like.  I had forgotten the one key part at the beginning of the movie played by Tom Cruise, which came out in 1996. Jerry’s passionate writing of his Mission Statement had gotten him into trouble.  I watched it again last night after viewing it the first time about 12 years ago having only remembered Cuba Gooding’s priceless line “Show Me the Money!!!”  Cuba deserved getting “Best Supporting Actor” in the Academy Awards.  But Tom Cruise also nailed it with his performance and thus he got “Best Actor” award.  Renee Zellweger, playing a single mom didn’t do so bad either but Ray, her little boy in the movie, stole the show. 

To refresh my readers’ memory, Cruise plays a former law student who turned into a sports agent for professional athletes in football, hockey, and basketball.  Eventually he had enough of the high pressure of playing the game of dog-eat-dog competition and threw in the towel by speaking the truth in his writing.  What was supposed to be a one page statement turned into a 25 page diatribe.

The passion Maguire wrote with one night into the wee hours was remarkable and Renee Zellweger picked up on it, but she was the only one.  Maguire had disseminated his Mission Statement the next morning to about 100 of his co-workers which left him jobless and without his superficial, ornery fiancé. By the end of the movie, after he develops a relationship with his one and only client, Cuba Gooding and gets married to Renee to be with her boy, does it all come together again.  The beauty of the movie is that Maguire follows his heart by putting his job and love life on the line.  He spoke the truth, but not without some bumps and bruises along the way.

 One of my favorite quotes is by Arnold Bennett: “There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.”

Last week I talked to four out of five of my classes about this above quote.  That is how important being passionate about truth is to me. Now my Kazakh students know how important passion is and I want them to write Jerry Maguire-like.   The first two weeks I have given most all of them Kolb’s Learning Styles questionnaire, a temperament sorter and a Multiple Intelligence inventory.  I have given these same things for the last 20 years to hundreds and hundreds of my ESL/EFL students. I like to learn about who each individual is in my classroom.  I’m kind of like Jerry Maguire in giving special attention to each of my clients beyond just knowing them as numbers or feeders into the tuition coffers. In the meantime, while getting to know my 100 PLUS Kazakh students,  I’m still waiting for the last of them to show up for class before we begin full tilt with satisfying the requirements of the syllabus. 

I already found out that 64% of my Kazakh students are choleric, see earlier post.  What I’m also discovering is when administering the Multiple Intelligence inventory there is a wide variety of student profile results showing up in six of the intelligences: linguistic, logic/math, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, music and interpersonal.  (I didn’t include the last one of intrapersonal because it didn’t fit on two pages.  I’m sure there are those students who know who they are and where they are going.  I have to find that third page of the questionnaire in my piles of paper.) 

What I DID find out is that when giving a self-report in the Linguistic section is that not many of our Kazakh students take pride in what they write.  They either checked or did not check the blank before the sentence: “I am proud of what I write.  Sometimes I get special recognition for my writing.”  What was perplexing was that only about 25% of my two writing classes checked that to be true for them.  In my two listening classes the percentages were higher, 50% and 60%.  That means, we as writing teachers, have students sitting in our classroom who either are not proud of what they write because they don’t know how or they have not been recognized for their talents.  However, not many scored high in linguistic where you would have the budding, potential future writers of the country.  (to be continued in tomorrow’s blog)

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