When I took “Evolution of Stories and Story of Evolution” last year, one of the things I started to work on was fitting into the class dynamic. I wrote in my Evolit class evaluation that, “…I felt that I should try to modulate my speaking. I wanted to leave more room/silence for others to explore their voices…I felt that the course was about ideas AND about learning to be a member of a team… This isn’t to say that I stopped participating, I just tried to find a more helpful level.” So I continued to pursue that type of group-mesh in this class as well. I think I may have gone too far in the other direction, however, so after talking with Anne I tried to increase my participation. I discovered that it’s very difficult to try to have that awareness of how you’re perceived in terms of the appropriate amount of participation: the level where others can feed off of what I’m saying and I can feed off of their ideas. My journey in that arena continues and maybe there isn’t a “correct” level, but I’ll keep trying to engage others and be engaged as I continue with my classes.
Changes in my Writing:
Through this class, I’ve discovered that my essays are fragmented, that I don’t do a good enough job of showing the reader what my reasoning is and how I’ve come to my conclusions. I now know that doing so is something that I need to work on in order to be able to effectively communicate in my writing as well as my verbal communication. It’s not something that I was aware of before, but I’m glad I know about it now and that I’ve been in a position to get some feedback about it.
I’ve also had the opportunity here to try some new avenues in my writing. In the first paper, I tried to make the quotes the star and organize my thoughts around them and in the second paper, I tried the reverse. After those two explorations, I thought the second worked better, but I still had my fragmented writing to work on because, as it turns out, both methods still reflected the same issue. The more I practice and get feedback, the better I’ll get, I’m sure, so I’m just going to keep trying new forms and keep what works and ditch what doesn’t.
In terms of continuing to try to progress in other aspects of my writing, I really like how Anne has expanded the way I can think about writing my papers. For example, when I wrote about collectivist versus individual cultures, I didn’t realize that I had the option of writing the paper in a collectivist way- never thought about it. I had never explored this type of “tie-in” in an academic environment and it’s given me something new to think about in terms of future papers. One my third paper, Anne commented that I should consider the role of fiction in my essay on free will. Again, this is another piece of the puzzle that I can consider in future papers in order to expand their reach or to try to write about the tastiest morsel of the issue that I’m addressing in a paper.
Finally, even though I had heard the expression about “putting this in conversation with that,” I didn’t know what it meant so it wasn’t something that I could use to add interest to my papers- I finally think that I understand that now and have a new tool in my toolbox.
One of the things I learned to pay more attention to in terms of my reading is the fact that I do skim more when I read online. I don’t think that I enjoyed the earlier readings in the class as much because they were online. To me, this made them very nebulous and skimmable. I find that I had a much better experience when we read books. Part of it too may just be the fact that I bring expectations to a book whereas I don’t do so for online reading and since I don’t know where to start with on-line materials, with respect to having expectations, I find it more difficult to understand what I’m supposed to make of it.
I liked that in class we did some close reading exercises, it wasn’t something that I was familiar with so I think that learning to break things down definitely helped my reading.
It was a new experience for me to mostly use my postings to respond to others. In Evolit, I would use the postings as a way to bring together what I had learned that week. It actually used to take me much longer to do in that class versus just responding to someone else most of the time in this class. I like that I had the experience of doing both. In this class, it was interesting to see what others would come up with and then try to find an angle of my own that could help contribute to the conversation. It’s actually quite similar to what we did in class only it was written instead of verbal. I actually prefer the verbal better, but the written allows more time to craft my thoughts, so I think that’s important.
Writing the song was fun. I hadn’t played guitar much since I was an undergrad so it was good to have an excuse to get back to it. It would have been nice to work with someone, I think that’s a valuable experience, but I ended up starting on it earlier than we started talking about forming groups as a class, so I struck out on my own with it. It was enjoyable to see what others came up with as well, lots of creativity in the class. I found it so amazing that it took until the end of the semester for me to find out that Kobieta was so funny!
This class definitely helped me to work on many of the things that I knew I wanted to improve upon and many that I didn’t know existed. I was introduced to expanded ways of thinking about my reading and writing and through the vehicle of genre analysis, I was challenged to think about the assumptions I’ve made in many aspects of my life.
Thanks for a wonderful semester!