Sunday, October 7, 2007

Questions to ponder...

What I love about this class is how much it gets me thinking, especially in those futuristic terms of “when I have my class…” But at the same time, this class has raised so many questions, some of which might not be answerable necessarily.

Writing has always been something I love doing—literally my whole life. I have been writing stories and journaling about my day for as long as I can remember. My parents tell me that even before I could actually write words or make coherent sentences, I used to write “stories” that I would read to them. I knew exactly what was in my head, and I knew exactly how I wanted to write it down. Ever since I started school, English has always been my favorite subject. I didn’t come to love reading or writing because of a teacher. I just always loved it. There have certainly been teachers that could have quenched that passion in me, but for the most part, I have never encountered an English class that I didn’t (eventually) get something out of. (I say eventually, because sometimes I didn’t appreciate the work I learned in a class until it was over.) How do I give/make/offer someone that same passion? More importantly, how do I teach a skill that I find mostly inherent? And it gets even more complicated considering 99% of the students I will someday stand before in Eng 1301 do not even want/care to write. How do I make it important to them? Is it possible to love English too much to be able to teach it?

I also wonder about other areas, which are more quantitative. I think even as a DI, I wonder what emphasis to put on “correctness.” I love grammar. And by love, I mean I literally love everything about it. I love the structure, the rules, the prescriptive, the descriptive. I love diagramming sentences and memorizing grammatical formulas. I love it all. But I also recognize that I am probably one of 10 people who love grammar so much. I think the most recent thing I’ve learned about “correctness,” in terms of what will probably become part of my teaching philosophy, is the importance of revision. My expectations for a first draft, second draft, third draft, or final draft will probably vary greatly. But when grammar does become more important, how do I teach it? Given the knowledge I now have—that students don’t learn grammar 2 or 4—what is the point of teaching it at all? How much does it matter? I still stand firm that it does matter. But how much? A little? A lot? I don’t know.

I think that I’ve raised enough questions for today. So, that’s all for now.


Nimi.Finnigan said...

So many little blog space! Passion is always a good place to begin. I empathize with your desire to communicate your passion for english to your future students. I worried about that myself. I think the best we can eventually do is be good, "passionate" role models. Instead of worrying about our students being passionate about English, we should show them how passionate WE ARE about the subject. Seeing you enjoy every part of all things english has the potential to naturally draw your students to the subject, if only out of mere curiosity. How does the saying go? "Be the change you want to see." In your case, just keep on being passionate about English...they'll catch on. (We hope!)

Kimberly said...

Your question of how we teach a skill that seems to be inherent -- I think through encouraging students to read, to find some type of book that appeals to them. I also sort of think this needs to be done when they're young, so maybe when they get to college, the focus is more on seeing some more difficult literature as a puzzle, teaching them to analyze and dig it up, to figure out what the author's saying. I had a teacher do this with John Donne's poetry in class, and I went from thinking Donne's work was too complex, to seeing the beauty in his work and the thought that went into his crafting of a poem. Now I love Donne.