Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Composition Course, Please

I didn't take a Composition course in college, but I had the pleasure of slacking off in an AP English class in high school.  I remember almost nothing about it except that I thought my teacher hated me.  By the end of the year, my confidence in my writing was shot.  Oh well.  So much for smarty-pants.

I had a friend who took a Composition course a few years ago who asked me frequently to help him with his papers.  He was required to write two double-spaced pages every week, in addition to a couple of longer pieces.  He was overwhelmed.

I tried to explain that the point of the assignments was to give him practice.  His professor graded generously and gave every paper back with suggestions for improvement.  Unfortunately, my friend was too flustered at the prospect of having to write at all to get anything out of the experience.

Oddly enough, I got something out of helping him with his papers.  I wished that I had taken a Composition course for my own benefit, as the practice assignments he was given were very interesting, and the teacher had chosen topics that were easy for students to become invested in.  I felt that I had lost an opportunity for some laid-back, easy, yet very productive writing practice.

As for the reasons for these assignments, I stick to my explanation to my friend: The teacher was trying to give his students an easy opportunity to practice their writing.  The classroom, from my vantage point as peer-reader, appeared to provide students an opportunity for gradual progression in their writing skills.


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