Thursday, December 3, 2015

Eat your Fish Food

For my final assignment in English 1109, my class was asked to read "What Should Colleges Teach? (Part 3)" by Stanley Fish. In this article, Stanley Fish is discussing how high school and middle school writing are not effective in any way. Also saying that those types of writing do not prepare students for college level writing. Fish states "By all the evidence, high schools and middle schools are not teaching writing skills in an effective way, if they are teaching them at all." OOOOOOOH BURN! Basically Fish just flamed all high school and middle school teachers saying that their way of teaching is very bad. And is putting the blame on them for student performance in college writing their first year of school. However, I think that sounds a little fishy to me. It's the student's choice whether they want to learn or not. The teachers ain't got nothing to do with a students failure.

Reaction when Stanley Fish said "If they are teaching them at all"

From my personal experience, I started out in my English class, writing papers like how I would for high school. I just adapted to that writing style because I focused on it so much. Later on in the semester, I was taught a new way to write papers for English. I still had to write an intro and conclusion but also I was taught to add more paragraphs. Paragraphs including what I used to support my paragraphs and describing each of my sources. It was kind of like getting more "fish food" for your paper. I clearly needed some for college work because it is way different from high school work. Some students simply choose to stay with the high school writing style and not ask for any help about college writing style. The teachers have nothing to do with the students success or failure.

Stanley Fish not amused about middle and high school teachers writing styles.

In some cases I do agree with Stanley Fish. For example when he says "You're not going to be able to change the world if you are not equipped with tools that speak to its present condition." You're not going to be able to succeed in college writing without the correct tools. The "present condition' in this case is college writing. Stanley Fish is saying high school writing styles will not work anymore. It is important that a student knows the correct writing styles.

In another case I think writing a topic is more important than what Fish says is important. Fish states that sentence structure is the most important thing in college writing. In my Analytical Research Essay I said choosing a topic is the most important thing in college writing. I feel like the topic of a paper is the "Fish Food". With the fish food you will be able to function and produce. Without it, you will not survive. And by that I mean your grade will not survive on that English paper you write. In my opinion without your topic nothing else can be done. In my interview with Paul McCormick, an English professor at OSU Newark, he said "choosing a topic is the FIRST step in the writing process" and I completely agree with him. The last thing a college writer wants is a lack of fish food. A lack of fish food is far worse, than a fishes tank not being cleaned for seven months!

What Stanley Fish tries to argue in "What Should Colleges Teach? (Part 3)" is important but I think there are much more important topics to focus on then just sentence structure. Yes it is important to have structured sentences but what if you don't know what to write about? What if you don't eat your fish food? Oh that's right, YOU DIE. You know how bad a dead fish smells? REAL BAD MAN! Like how your assignment will smell, if you don't get the right tools to write it. So you need to remember one thing: eat fishy but don't smell fishy.


  1. Interesting use of fish food throughout this - I particularly liked the way you ended it.

    Although I agree that choosing a topic is the first stage of the writing process...what do you do if you don't know what to choose? I know there are tools for writing more substantial papers now, but what can I use to start stronger?

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