Back again to WRITING…and teaching writing!

It has been a very busy month in August and now I am looking at the end of this month on the calendar and realizing that I have some catch up to do.  I have said “yes” to teaching 12 credits of composition I classes so that may mean that I won’t be able to write as much for the local newspaper every week.  However, what I should do is document all that I go through as a teacher in dealing with freshmen students who do not want to be in their respective writing classes.  I will have to convince them that writing is GOOD for them like taking your medicine everyday to feel better.

Somehow I have to persuade these postmodern products that it IS about them but that they have to know their audience in order to be “listened to.”  I have come to learn that postmodernism is more about what the person who is reading a script what it does to them, it is all about them.  Whereas before, like a century ago, it was more about trying to figure out what the writer meant and what his or her intentions were.  We certainly have it backwards now because you can interpret any message any way you want to, never mind what the main point of the author’s is.  

I am not sure when the swing back to the way I grew up will take place. If I am teaching my students to find their own “voice” and then to declare a message they are passionate about, how can I get them to also think that they have to do a sales job in getting their readers to buy into what they have to promote or what they care passionately about?  I haven’t had to think about this for a couple of years but I was re-visiting all my powerpoints from when I taught a comp class and I was struck with how much work I had done every week to teach my students the rudimentary principles they need to keep in mind to write an academic essay.

Must I tell my students every time that they CAN write?  Do I need to remind them that they can think and they can verbalize so all they have to do is put that down on paper.  If I can encourage them to write using ethos, pathos and logos, then I will have won half the battle.  Some will come crippled with a grammar problem because they did not get proper training in school as a young person.  Some students will repeat things they have heard and I cringe when I hear irregular verbs improperly used.  I’ve heard it with teachers I work with, those who should know better.  I suppose it is no different from those in Texas who might say, “I’m fixing to…”  When northerners might say, “I plan to…or I intend to…”  I have to keep in mind that I know what they mean.  I had caught my Texas friend who had just come back from a trip to Texas from Ukraine saying that phrase “I’m fixing to…”  I ribbed her about it because ordinarily I would not hear her say that while we lived in Ukraine.

I have lived in so many different countries and early on I learned that you do not use the question “How come…” with internationals who only know the way to ask is “Why?”  Where did the “How come” configuration come about?  When I come back from living overseas I also do not use expressions we take for granted and feel clumsy using them when with Americans again.  Things like “fit to be tied” or “six of one, half dozen of another” or “the whole nine yards.”  That would be too complex for my foreign students to understand and then without hearing these kinds of phrases or using them for years on end, I find I mix up these common place phrases.

Well, I hope that I can work back into my teaching writing routine without feeling like a fish out of water. Ha!  Yes, looking through the textbook thoroughly and re-doing the two different syllabi that I am working with will help get me back in the groove.  I’ve been working on getting two books out and selling them this past year, I am a bit out of sync with how to get back in the classroom with my heavy load of teaching again.  Indeed, it will all come back to me once I am in front of the fresh, expectant faces of my composition students.


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