Friday, September 21, 2007

tutoring or not

it's so amazing just how quickly life can go from an easy, laid back pace to a mind-numbing, heart-stopping pace. For me, right now, my schooling is really not the issue that is bothering me. All I have is three classes, and each one on their own is not that demanding (as long as I stay on top of them and do my assignments in a manner that uses my time well). My issue right now is my time in the workplace. For the first time in my life, I have more than two incomes and responsibilities that I cannot fail to accomplish. Each job in itself is very minimal in its demands of me and is not difficult to do well. However, when I stop to think about what I have to do for all of them, the situation seems to snowball and it starts to worry me a little bit. Ever since I was a child, I have always been an overachiever, a person who hates to let people down and a person who will not quit on anything. To make matters worse, I love each job that I've been asked to do and I enjoy the people that I work for and those that I am serving. I am most definitely a people person. My biggest joy is being able to help someone out with an issue, but, I sometimes think that I have got in over my head, but my biggest concern right now is for those who have put their trust in me and are counting on me to help them through their semester. How long can I keep up with this crazy pace? I guess only time will tell.

AP Classes

Ha Ha…my AP classes. Since the writing portion of the AP test counts for so much of your grade, my high school teachers harped on this idea. Over and over again we would write thesis statements. This was particularly brutal. I, for reasons unknown to me had…trouble keeping my thesis sentence under four lines long. Instead of generally summarizing, I tried to take my topic sentences and combine them into one huge unrecognizable sentence. I don’t think these classes were as significant as my Honors English class in ninth grade. I do not know how I made it in to honors, but I wanted the “honors” part for my transcripts, so I was happy. My teacher, Mr. DeHass made me fall in love with writing. He allowed the class the freedom to be creative and actually (from the Murray reading) find our voice. It was after this that I began (and still am) learning to control what I say and how I say it so my point comes across. I really liked his class. Anyways, I really learned that whole structure thing through the AP classes I was taking, but my whole thesis issue became more apparent in my junior year with my AP Language teacher, whose name I am blanking on. He was also the play director each semester. I was never sure he liked me. But man he tore apart my essays, in particular my thesis. My friends would congregate and lunch and talk about how miserable his grading made us. I must have done…seven rewrites before he okayed my thesis to move on to the rest of the ten page paper covering Atlas Shrugged. He must have loved the book because every year you would see these miserable students walking around with their faces in this massive book. I remember thinking “My turn”. Learning how to write an essay in that stupid format, though; that thesis, points, conclusion layout, is only useful for certain classes. I remember being so…bored with the entire process. How many times can a person stick to that boring format, which was so drilled into my head that when I moved to Utah I remember my AP European History teacher having another format and it seeming so bizarre. It was awful because I could not think in his terms on what an essay should be and I did not always scored so well.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Well, to be honest a lot has been going on in my mind these days, most of them singular and private, some of them not. My head feels like a capped cauldron, boiling and bursting at the seams with responsibilities and a constantly changing to-do list. Largely, I suppose, nothing of great import or finely-tuned philosophical flights of fancy. Mostly just the constantly churning to-do list of homework and other responsibilities, along with the increasingly reddening view of my financial balances.

Real-life has been on my mind, as of late. My term paper for Modern Art, my art projects for my Ceramics and Printmaking classes (which seem to be perpetually behind schedule and below expectations), and the decreasing amount of time to work on what's necessary for this class, reader responses notwithstanding. There are also car repairs and the financial burden that such represent, as well as unknown gremlins in the system that seem to make it not even want to work at all. The length of time spent on campus, a list of personal projects (online comic and novel) that have yet to be honestly returned to since the start of the semester, and a constant feeling in the back of my mind that I'm missing something important. And there's the fear that I'm going to break down under the stress and do something that'll wind up in the newspaper and psychological journals, which bears no additional suggestion about what that entails.

But all in all I suppose I've been exceptionally lucid as of late, and running surprisingly well in spite of my caffeine intake being far lower than I thought it would or should be. I'm not doing as well as I would've hoped in so many different things, but I suppose I'm not doing as badly as I feared either. I'm actually proud too that I've managed to keep to my dietary plan, one I've been pursuing since the start of summer: A sustainable healthy diet. Under all the stress, I could be doing much worse than I am now, so I'm grateful for that much. Not much else to say, to be honest. No way to get to the end of the semester without taking one step after the next. A thousand mile journey begins only then.

Slacker Prompt

Here's a slacker prompt for you all: what's on your mind these days? Feel free to write about tutoring—or not.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Writing Essays

Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve always absolutely loved to write. I can remember sitting at my desk at school for hours on end and day-dream about story plots and character descriptions. In my early education, the teachers would have to come up to my desk repeatedly and awake me from my thoughts.

As I grew older and the demands that were placed upon me by the education system grew more detailed and intensive, all the hard work that I had done as a child simply as a hobby turned into an advantage for me. My love for writing blossomed into doing well in my classes, particularly those classes that pertained to writing skills, especially in history and in English, which I would later earn my Bachelor of Science degrees in here at Weber State University and would lead me into pursuing an MA in English as well.

In seventh grade, my family and I decided to take a different educational route than the “normal” public schooling road and decided to give home schooling a try. This was probably the best decision that I could have made, as far as pursuing an education goes. Home schooling, by its very nature, allows the student and the parents as the educators to explore the child’s academic strengths as well as their weaknesses and it also allows them the opportunity to take the time to strengthen the weaker subjects. It also allows the student to take the time to use his or her strengths and gives them the freedom to use these strengths and find out just how far they can take them.

For me, my mother was very instrumental in helping me to become the writer that I am today. I never really had a “fog” that needed to be lifted (at least when it came to writing and essays, however, Math is a WHOLE different story). I think that my love for writing and my talent as a writer is simply a gift that God has blessed me with and I enjoy using it, even for writing essays in my schooling. I know that if I had gone the conventional educational route, I would still love to write and would probably still be quite good at it, but I am certain that I would not enjoy it as much as I do now, and I may not have chosen to pursue an English Master’s degree. I haven’t decided quite yet what I want to do with it, but I am quite positive that my career choice will involve writing somewhere.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I believe I have always had a natural comprehension of English. My various English teachers would present topics that I would immediately grasp. I knew most of the rules and reasons behind English, but after a while, I would forget why but simply know the correct answers. In high school, I could write papers the day before they were due and still earn A’s. In fact, that is precisely what I did. I found that procrastinating forced me to come up with far reaching ideas that my teachers found brilliant. But to tell the truth, I really never found my English classes too challenging. I went to both private and public school, and the English department never pushed me to challenging levels until I went into AP Literature. There were some aspects in AP that challenged me, but we were taught to write five paragraph essays because of the time constraint. The hardest part of that was finding a good thesis. I never had trouble with the thesis in other classes because we were always told what to write, but in AP it was always hard.

Another lesson came with the ACT’s. I expected to do poorly in math, but I did not expect that my English section would be as low as it was. My English score was not particularly low, but for me, I had higher expectations. I took the ACT’s a total of three times like my counselor had advised. I studied for math and English. In the ACT book, I found that a lot of the grammar rules were different than what I was taught. I tried to remember all the variations, and I did much better by my final ACT score. But, that was mainly grammar and spelling.

Before college, I had been taught the five paragraph essay. My AP classes stressed this format, and I was pretty good at it. Once I came up with my thesis and outline, I could whip those five paragraphs with similes, metaphors and quotes.

Once I was in college, the story changed. My composition class taught me to reject the five paragraphs. I learned that I do not have to make my first sentence the thesis. Also, I found that I could express my main idea through connecting different examples into one main thought. I like to think of that principle as the Malcolm Gladwell principle. I am sure that Gladwell did not come up with that format, but he does a great job at presenting an idea through two or more similar examples. Also, my composition professor was encouraging me to write my paper on one of Gladwell’s essays in that style.

I still do not know some grammar rules. I do not know all the different comma or colon rules, and I do not know where a period goes with quotation marks (I swear that rule continually changes). And, I still have problems with starting papers making a thesis. I know I still have a lot of learning to do because there are many concepts I feel need more of my attention, but at least I was able to get out of my narrow mindset and expand my writing to a more mature level because of my college composition professor.