Thursday, December 6, 2012

Got some gold Fish's: What colleges should teach

I was asked what college level writing is, and I thought, well...what is college… what is writing…???

What working together
can create
OK, where to start… within colleges… academia… the scholarly realm... a bunch of rich old white guys have been in quite the debate. As they argue about what college level writing is, and what college should teach they have been trying to make some changes to the scholarly realm, and make academia a little more democratic. I think, they may be trying to change things up because our society is broken, and maybe, just maybe, if academia was a little more democratic, our society may become a little less broken.

Stanley Fish
Stanley Fish is one of the old dudes, and in his Blog   “What College Should Teach,” he claims “Basically, there is only one thing to be learned, that a sentence is a structure of logical relationships; everything else follows.” 

OK, I get that; I can see how writing can be viewed as logical relationships, all working together. I like to think of it like a multilevel staircase, the steps are each sentence, and each thought should lead to the next. Each paragraph can be viewed as each flight of stairs, all work together, and leading some where…

Wouldn't want to climb without the rope 
Fish’s logic is  simple, but just like anything else in life you must learn how to build a staircase 
before you can start building stairs, and unless your some sort of natural craftsman, or happen to build staircases it all the time, it can be hard. Some people are lacking the motivation needed build something so big, others simply don’t have the right tools, and some people think they are really good at building staircases, but I sure wouldn't want to use their  stairs. Building stairs must be done right; you cant half ass it, being others may want to use your stairs someday.  

Why I do what I do,
My worlds greatest little people
Most college students are young, still kids in a since when they enter college... their frontal lobes aren't fully working yet, and I don't think they understand that they are attending college to become the leaders of our society. I tried to attended college when I was under 25, but it didn't work out so well. Now I'm a thirty-five year old mother of three, and I know that while yes I  am very important, its not just about me, and my choices effect more than just me. You see... when I was young my family was far from middle class, my mother didn't put me or my education first, and my father died, but when I had my own kids I quickly learned how valuable an education is: So I got at job at The Ohio State University in the medical center, in order to educate myself and family at a discounted rate. I have been taking classes for while now, and I have found I really like this scholarly realm. So... I finally decided it was time to take a much needed English class, and I was assigned to research the very subject them old dudes are arguing about, college writing.

Red or Blue 
My research took place on OSU’s Newark campus, and for 8 weeks I watched a tutoring session within the University’s Writers Studio. In the sessions I watched 2 very different students decode readings from writers like Emerson and Hobbs, and watched as they tried to relate the concept of fear to the classic poems. The sessions took place under a sign on the wall that says ghoti and fish are the same word: Perception is everything.    

What college tradition has become 
Carmen V's Mirror Lake 
Most students enter college with hopes of better themselves in some way, and wanting to provide a better life for themselves and their family, but there are some students that seem to think that the privilege of obtaining a higher level of education is somehow owed to them, and quite frankly people like that annoy me. You see... I've busted my butt in order to obtain a higher level of thinking, and don’t like to be distracted by the clueless, self gratifying thoughts of others.   

Over the course of the sessions I observed, when the student who was being tutored chose to come prepared and willing to learn, it was enjoyable to watch them decode the text; but when he came to the sessions unprepared and not wanting to learn, it was such a waste of time. I am a very busy lady, who has a lot of other responsibility's, and all I could think as I watched the student and the writing consultant discussing video games, and other clueless thoughts  was “I just rushed in the shower... and didn't shave my legs... to listen to this shit…” 

Gerald Graff
So, I do agree with Fish’s about writing being a structure of logical relationships, and see how the college curriculum can be viewed as logical relationships, all working together, to lead somewhere, but I have to agree with Fish's buddy Gerald Graff a little more. In his essay, Hidden Intellectualism Graff stated, “Real intellectuals turn any subject, however lightweight it may seem, into grist for their mill, through the thoughtful questions they bring to it, whereas a dullard will find a way to drain the interest out of the richest subject.”

Colleges need to cut the bull shit, and teach students they are attending college to become intellectuals,critical thinkers, and the leaders of our society, not to play childish games. The college curriculum can teach a higher level of thinking, but some students don’t realize they are there to become the leaders and critical thinkers. I know the first time I tried to get my degree I didn't understand this yet, and no one told me either. In order to make changes within our broken society, students need to learn that debating is good, being, listening to others is how we form our opinions: Arguing is just how humans discuss things with passion, and it can help to bring topics that legitimately need discusses to the minds of others. 

My Great Grandma
and I
Colleges are discussing the issues with the college curriculum,  but I'm not sure students are listening.I feel colleges need to clearly tell students to quit fucking off. Graff says in Undemocratic Curriculum that students are on cognitive overload, but I'm not so sure about that either. You see...when I was little, if I did something wrong my grandma would loving  say "you little shit ass." I think my grandma would tell the old dudes that college students are just being little shit asses. The only problem with grandma logic is college students are not children/little shit asses, and they are being shit heads. We attend college to acquire a higher level of thinking, and we are there to learn not to play, and student need to focus on acquiring knowledge to better themselves, so we can all work together to begin to fix our broken society. 


The Stress Needs To Be Adressed

Once I finished reading What should colleges teach? Part three I felt that fishes thoughts were right. All students should be on the same level. Such as College freshman they all should start out at the same level learning at the same pace , all student world wide. I say this because it make things much easier and students would learn better and much faster.I've had friends that came to America from Africa and Egypt and they have to start all over because they aren't learning what we are and in some cases might have to repeat a grade to catch up to our standards.

The stress it causes students when left behind

As written in Fishes Blog What Should Colleges Teach? Part 3 "It is because our students come to us unable to write clean English sentences that we are obligated to supply what they did not receive from their previous teachers." He is also right about that. Students come into college upset because of the g level system such as taking your placement test and receiving a low score and being put into and English class that you’re not receiving any credit for. This in the student’s case can really mess up the time in which you will be graduating.

Fishes ides of giving students a piece to read and having them recreate it. I think that this is a good slow pace to start off with they won’t run into to many problems and it will also open their thought’s. My first semester of freshman English we had to go to Ohio State Newark’s writers studio to observe students and PWC’S to see what they were talking about and to gets there thought about writing. I think that that helped me and my classmates out a lot because we know more things now that we experienced those sessions we started off slow and went on to bigger ideas. The observation’s made us more successful in our class word and paper that we had to do.
Smaller steps leads to big success

Another point that I would like to point out that fished talked about in his post was how high schools and middle schools are not teaching the right way. I can comment on that because I’m fresh out of high school and once I got to college and started my classes I was lost. I’d be in English class and he’d ask something and I’m like oh that’s new I never heard that word when I should have learned it time ago. So I not knowing what he’s teaching threw me off in the beginning. Most schools are teaching students that are in the same grade and supposed to be on the same level different things.

It is a bad thing that students are not able to write decent English sentences. It is really bad when it’s their native language and they still can’t get a hold on it. Fish talks about this in what should college’s teach part 3.I’ve haven’t really thought about how bad it was until I read this post in sat in English/ writing class and have been completely lost when I should know this it is my born native language.

Although some or most people will disagree with fish as said by Eric Schwitzgelbel in the article the splintered mind. I’m like your number one fan because we have the same insight on college writing. You also tell all of you’re feeling about the situations that you’ve encountered without leaving and out. All of the things that were happening when you were in the class room teaching you let your audience know so that they can get insight and learn from the mistakes that are being made in English today. Fish’s whole idea about the same pace and taking it slow idea is a great idea. I hope that all teachers could read this and fix this problem otherwise it will keep going and going. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and fixed.

Lost in translation: why schools should teach what

What makes up a good paper? A question we have probably all asked ourselves some time before. No doubt as a child, or perhaps college student, rushing to finish a paper that was put off for far too long. Well as Mr. Fish sees it, the path to success is build brick by brick, or sentence by sentence in this case. As he discusses in his article “What Should Colleges Teach? Part 3” as found Here, “You have to start with a simple but deep understanding of the game, which for my purposes is the game of writing sentences (Stanley Fish).

This notion Mr. Fish makes about focusing on our knowledge of sentences is a very interesting way to structure his college courses. All though we need to consider why are sentences all that important?Let's us bring to mind to question of “why sentences are even important?” To answer this we are going to be required to acknowledge the whole grand scheme of writing in the first place. It’s an unspoken goal that I have uncovered that I came across while performing observations at the Ohio State Writer’s Studio in preparation for my thesis on an English paper of mine.
We were required to convey a “Key aspect of College Writing” utilizing what we observed. So I watched a student and tutor duo discussed over the students work for eight weeks to find any topic they mentioned I could use.  This is where I say that the whole point we even write in the first place is to portray our thoughts to others, and I say the steps we must take to accurately accomplish that goal.
If written properly your paper can make the reader feel part of the action

One of these goals is how we can write our sentences. It’s like how Fish puts it in his article, “You are not going to change the world if you are not equipped with the tools to speak to a present condition (Stanley Fish).” So how do we consider sentences? Well first let’s consider language, for paper comprised solely of short, easy words you picked up back in elementary school then you will rub off as juvenile, although your word scheme can have the tendency of acting as a double-edge sword. Since even though simple words make you look childish, if you use a thesaurus to look up every other word for your paper then your final result will look obnoxious.
So the way you write your sentences makes a big difference to your audience, as does the actual way you form your sentences, because teachers like to bring the gabble down every time a sentence ran longer than a line people got it in their head to write nothing but short uniform sentences, though if we were to think about it this would just result in a very bland and sterile paper.
Short, simple, boring!

Plus as fish puts it in the paper, “Asking a student to turn a three word sentence like “Jane likes cake” into a 100-word sentence without losing control of the basic structure”. So in reality a long sentence can be possible, if done correctly.
So as you can see sentences are very important, as they are what we use to negotiate with our readers on a certain topic. Therefore without a strong grasp over how you write then your message becomes gargled. So yes being required to relearn what was already taught to you may not initially sound fun, but without a good base how can you possibly build on. Not to mention that even though you maybe repeating something, that doesn’t mean everyone is. You don’t know what was and wasn’t taught to someone else there in class with you,  and Mr. Fish understands this. That’s why he starts with the baby steps onward. Therefore we need to ask the same question from before, “Why are sentences important?” Because if we are still having trouble answer this then perhaps you should consider see one of Mr. Fish's lectures.

Ring Around the Rosy: My Idea of College Level Writing

After reading “What Should Colleges Teach? Part 3" a blog post by Stanley Fish I would have to agree with his connection that many college freshmen have not been taught writing skills in an effective way. He then follows with his on insight that “I cannot see, however, why the failure of secondary education relieves college teachers of a responsibility to make up the deficit.”  He writes that sometimes even in college, students may be better taught to follow simple steps such as learning how to build a sentence and then progress from that point.  

Mr. Fish through his quest to overcome deficiency in college writing devised a writing method that involved students writing a list of words and then explain what the word did. Through this simple process he was able to teach the basic beginnings of sentence building. These sentence exercises progressed and would eventually become the foundation of college writing.

As a student returning to college, after being out of high school for twenty-plus years, most definitely agrees with this simple process of writing. I believe with the wide diversity of students now enrolling in America’s colleges that it is not only necessary, but imperative for all teachers to keep in mind, that what may seem familiar to them is not always going to be true for the student attending their class.

I have noticed at The Ohio State University that many of our campus students are either what the University calls “non-traditional” students (older) or students not originally from our country.   Mr. Fish also doesn’t feel that one has the hope of learning to write through the process of reading many texts, which again leads me to believe that the art of learning good writing should be a series of steps.

Recently, I was granted permission to observe student and peer writing consultant tutorials in the writing lab at our campus in Newark, Ohio.  It was through these observations that I was able to witness another set of steps that college writing follows. Students were given an essay assignment from which they had to build their paper from. It was through these steps of building their paper that I found the connection to Fish’s idea of starting out small and then progressing further to complete this imaginary ring around writing.  
Ring Around the Rosy
The students first had to pick a topic, read text and then begin collecting and building on their ideas. I see similarity between these steps and what Stanley Fish writes when answering the question, what is a sentence? “My answer has two parts: (1) A sentence is an organization of items in the world. (2) A sentence is a structure of logical relationships.”

Once the students had picked their topic and read the text that accompanies it, they then needed to start organizing there paper into a logical format that allowed for easy reading. To be successful in this process the student needed to ensure that what they wrote had a clear thesis statement, and gave the reader direction as to what their view was on the topic they were writing about.
When, student Jacob Brubaker was asked “How important is a thesis statement?” He responded back, “This is important because it sets the whole mind set of the paper that the reader is about to read.” Also when forming a sentence there has to be a subject and predicate structure to give direction as to what is being conveyed.

As to the question of whether Fish’s method of teaching sentence building improves writing skills in college students, I would have to counter with questioning, does it hurt? I, a so called “non-traditional” students can see the many benefits of his method. From my own experience of being out of the educational loop for so many years have great anxiety about college and college level writing. As written in the Association for Psychological Science by Mary J. Allen, California State University-Bakersfield, "As you design the course, consider each element from the perspective of your students." I would prefer that the teachers put the shoe on the other foot and maybe acknowledge that not every student’s educational backgrounds are equal. It makes more since to me that every student is given a foundation in their college experience that would be more of an even playing field and what better way to accomplish this than starting out simple.

In reference to Fish’s argument “What should colleges teach?” I think what should be taught to students, should be exercises on how to take your own opinions or thoughts into functioning paragraphs, but it has to be in a way that let students keep their culture and identity. What I mean by culture and identity I am simply referring to the students individual background in a household sense or nationality. Furthermore with the way our culture is constantly evolving especially with slang being more and more fluent in everyday talk not to mention some of our home talk. They might have different ways of saying things, which do not flow as freely on paper in a college essay as it might have sounded in their own words.

Furthermore, when I was going to the writer’s studio at OSU Newark and taking field notes for my English 1109 class. I got to observe other current students engaging in different types of college writing being assisted by a peer writing consultant. Over the course of a few sessions patterns began to emerge that were consistent with most of the students. In fact I had to incorporate some of these observations into the big class paper.

While observing I noticed there was a problem that was common among student writers. It is hard to transfer your thoughts to fluid and rational sentences in proper writing form because no one person chooses words the same. We all use words in different contexts, in fact most daily conversations that we have with other people would make no sense on paper. Because we it would lack the emphasis that can make a word mean another thing in a different context. I can recall one observation when it was a real struggle for the student to choose how her words were going to flow for her opinion on what a topic meant to her. I remember the peer writing consultant trying to coerce to have a particular style in her writing but I do not think she saw it as her. So this struggle forced to find her specific They Say, I Say” to build upon to have the edge need for college level writing.

In my own opinion, college instructors should teach some kind of writing exercises that challenges students to think at a more abstract level. So that they can handle the different ideas and concepts that they are being exposed to a whole lot better. I figure such exercises would help put seeds in their thought processes to be able to show they can understand and rationalize complex ideas. Furthermore these writing exercises should also have to incorporate the same structure that traditional college writing requires in terms of grammatical value and paragraph structure. One way I see this being achieved is through paraphrasing.

I recently wrote a whole essay on this very fact because through my observations I had to witness patterns among students. I think these exercises should consist of fill in the blank paragraphs. Which require the students to have to focus on connecting the same ideas as the original texts but with different wording in them. These exercises are to make them somewhat challenging will also have to keep the same punctuation. Although the text is missing a great amount of sentences it still has enough information that the main clause is still there. Then it could be the student’s job to add in complete sentences consisting of their own thoughts. By doing this I think they could get the idea on how to get across their own ideas without straying off of topic. The reason I think this would work is because it forces a student to be careful on the topic of each sentence and the choice of words. I believe that this very action will also inherit ably force the students to be more familiar with a thesaurus thus expanding there vocabulary.

Reading is the First, the Last, and Everything in between!

Thank you Dr Fish, for sharing such a well-informed article into what colleges should teach with regards to writing. I would have to agree that evidence has shown middle schools and high schools are not teaching the writing skills necessary in becoming a good writer. You mention that because of this, it does not relieve college professors the responsibility of this deficit. Again, I would have to agree.

But, learning this essential skill cannot be learned over night, learned in the few short years the student attends college, nor should it be only thing taught. What about reading?! It takes years of hard work from the student to learn to read and write well; and I believe it begins with reading. I understand that college professors often times feel obligated to supply the needs the student did not obtain in secondary school, but then we are only learning from the few professors we encounter. 
Could you imagine the variety of skills one could have if we started teaching reading and writing classes in elementary school? From my point of view, if I had learned more of these types of skills in secondary school, I wouldn’t be so intimidated and pressured to do well in my current English classes. Not to mention the anxiety I get from my lack of writing skills. 
We need to find a way to communicate to these secondary schools and inform them how poorly they are preparing their students for college level writing. But, let’s not just place the blame on high school teachers, let’s spread the wealth and start as low as elementary schools. If my daughter can learn algebra and geometry in elementary school, I am positive she can learn the essentials of reading and writing and continue to build upon that throughout her years in school.

To prove my point even more, I recently observed several writing sessions at the Ohio State University Writing Studio between a Peer Writing Consultant and a student. I notated several relevant moments from each of the 8 sessions that helped answer my question, "What is College Writing?" Each and every session pointed back to the essential skill of reading! I feel that writing does have a place in college level writing; and that is right beside reading. 

I find the exercises you use to reinforce and extend the basic insight very insightful and intellectual. How else is one to understand the game without first gaining an understanding of it? Your question, “What is a sentence anyway?” is a great way to start. I like the fact that you answer this by stating it is a structure of relationships and an organization of items. The first part (structuring) can be done easily, where as the second part (analyzing) takes a bit more thinking. This sentence relationship challenges you to do some critical thinking about how one idea relates to another. Again, one needs to start with reading. 

But, let's break down that reading into simple, basic sentences. Sentences are probably the most important means of communication. Without sentences, we could not obtain facts or details, opinions, sequence of events or understand cause and effect relationships. Without structure, we would be unable to get such meaning from words alone. For instance, take a writer, any writer. We understand their writing by reading it and interpreting it because they formed a relationship with their words. 
You state that a sentence is a structure of logical relationships and everything else follows. Everything else follows as long as you have an understanding of what should follow. Instead of using this method in teaching one the basics of writing, how about we use this method in teaching one the basics of reading?

You are cautious to believe the key to writing is imitation and reading many pages, although this has been advised from previous experts. I am not just cautious; I am flat out, without a doubt in disbelief. You can read the same paragraph over and over again and still not understand its meaning. 

You need to break it apart, sentence by sentence, and dissect every word. If you don’t know the definition, look them up! One will be unable to writing properly if one does not understand how to read properly. By learning this skill, we can then understand the thoughts of the author as well as our own. The best readers make the best writers, as Mary Daane explains in the November's Journal of Reading.

College and the Writing Environment

Dear Professor Stanley Fish,
I do believe that writing a clean English sentences is every important to college writing. Without a clean English sentences then the paper would be nothing, but I also believe that being in a good writing environment will also help with college writing and writing a clean English sentences. in my college English class i had to observe fifty minute sessions for eight weeks in which a student and a tutor would work on a putting together a paper for college English class. i have learned in these fifty minute sessions that college writing is all about having a good writing environment. A good writing environment will support you by being able to think better and show you different ways of thinking about how to write. Being in a good writing environment will allow you time to write a good college paper.

A good writing environment is somewhere where you can write and quiet and you’re able to write well.  Having a space to write in is every import to a writing environment. A writing center is an always a good place to be writing because everyone around you is writing and it will motivate you to write unlike where you are at your house where there might be your siblings there watching TV or wanting you to play with them or help them out with something. Being around people who are writing will help you write because you might feel bad for being the only one who just sitting there is doing nothing while everyone around you is working. Writing centers are also good because it is a quiet place with no T.Vs or a lot of people walking around or people side tracking you. Having space will help you writing better and clean English sentences.

Being in a good writing environment also means having time to write a paper. When having timing to write will help you think better and think in different ways writing a paper the time before class will not allowed you to write a clean English sentence. Let’s say you have a six page paper due in a week if you spend every day working on writing a page out of the six then reread it will help you change your mind and you will change some stuff and re world your sentences and rethink of ways to improve your paper vs. where you write it the night before where you a rushed to write and come up with six pages so you might not write in clean sentences.
Time means everything.

Having support when writing will help you write clean English sentences. Having someone there by your side is always good someone you trust that will give you the truth and them be honest with you. The person does not have to be standing over your shorter all the time some people like space when writing. Having some there is always good because they might have been thought to write in a different than you and could have more college writing experiences than you. A writing center is also a good place to get support because all the people there have had college writing experiences when having someone who has had college writing experiences knows what a good sentence is like what makes up a good sentence. Having support when writing will allow you to think better and, in different ways because not everyone thinks like you or writes like you so you will always think of different things to write about.
here a tutor is helping a student with her paper.

I believe that in high school they should teach students to write in clean English sentences, but also teaching students where to turn to for support, also how to give themselves space when writing, and to not write a paper the night before the paper is due. Having a good writing environment will allow you to write a complete clean English sentence. A writing center is the perfect place of where a good writing environment you can find support it’s a quite with little to no movement and they work around your schedule and they help you improve your writing they don’t just help you with your grammar they tell you what is missing in the paper. 


Organization umm...;What should colleges teach?

College writing is something that is so unique and diverse, but the question is what should college English professors teach? Stanley Fish says that the sentence is the main aspect that should be taught.  [Stanley Fish Blog]He stresses every aspect of a sentence in his classes. Starting with simple ones then to very long hard sentences. He makes his student’s dissect every little thing in a sentence. The reason for doing this is because Stanley Fish believes that “A sentence is a structure of logical relationships; everything else flows.”

In regards to my personal opinion I think sentences are something that is really important. However, I do not believe that it is something that needs to be taught in a college classroom. I believe that sentences and sentence structure is something that needs to be taught at the lower levels of education. However, in some cases sentence structure may be appropriate.  For example, in my own journey though middle school I was placed in a low level reading and writing class by mistake. I was then taught the same stuff I already knew.

In college I feel that the main aspect that should be taught in the writing process is organization. The organization process is sometimes overlooked. It’s something that seems so simple and short. Although its something that can be time consuming and hard. That’s something that I have observed over and over in a project I had to do in my freshmen English class.

In this project I had to go to a tutoring session and the Ohio State Newark writers studio.  [Writer Studio] My goal was to observe every little aspect that I could to accomplish my overall goal. The goal was to answer a question “What is college level writing.” After several weeks of going to these sessions the biggest thing that was mentioned over and over again was organization.

The fist thing that should be taught is the outline. The outline is often a skipped process in organization. If the outline is not skipped, it’s often not done seriously. It’s important to do the outline so you have an idea of what you’re going to write. A lot of times people sit down and start writing with no outline. This often causes you to get stumped and stressed out.

I witnessed the organization issue in my first observation. Samantha, the student, was having a hard time starting her paper. Beth the tutor asked her if she had made an outline yet. Samantha didn’t do one yet. Samantha then did it and was telling Beth how much it helped her out. 

The second thing that needs to be taught is time management. When you do your outline you need to also organize your time too.  This will allow you to have the proper time for each step in the writing process. A lot of times people do not allow proper time to do assignments and wait until the last minute. When doing this you will not see the best results.
The third major part of organization is the reverse outline. A reverse outline is important to use after you have written your first draft. [Reverse Outline]It will help you go through your paper and different paragraphs to make sure that everything makes sense and flows.  Often time’s students find themselves rambling and not making logical sense in their paragraphs. Using this will help students edit and perfect the paper. The reverse outline is something that is rarely used, but makes a significant difference in papers.                                                                                                                             

College level writing can be described as a number of different things.  Stanley Fish believes that the most important thing in college level writing is sentences.  On the other hand, I believe that organization is the most important thing in college level writing.  I have seen the struggles that organization causes in college students. There are many different types of organization that needs to be taught including creating an outline, time management, and a reverse outline.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sample Post: Now with Reverse Mullet

This is a sample of how your post should look when you submit it. Basically, you need to make sure that you have accounted for three main rhetorical shifts for your on-line op-ed:
  1. You need to make sure that your paragraphs are fairly short so that they may be read online with little issue.
  2. You need to exploit the rhetorical nature of hyperlinks (by linking to at least three sites that will supplement your argument and help readers navigate your thoughts).
  3. You need to take into account the visual nature of the Internet and select at least two relevant images that enhance the comprehension of your post.
This picture, for example, does not pertain to my post in any way.
It is my hope that by the end of our class demonstration, you will all be ready to post successfully to this blog, and I shouldn't have to worry about hearing this sound when you press "Publish."