Sunday, November 04, 2012

Early Composition Classes

I took English 1010 at Utah State from a nice, young graduate student. Many of the students called him Dr. so and so (I can’t remember his last name) and he would sheepishly reply, “Oh, please just call me Brady.” In retrospect the structure of the class reminds me very much of several concepts suggested by Freire. Of course I knew nothing of Freire at the time and as I was a first semester ride-my-long-board-to-every-single-class freshman, I thought first name basis in college was cool. It suited me quite well that my professor was down to earth.
One thing I thought my professor did particularly well that semester was scheduling two mandatory meetings with each individual student to discuss our writing assignments. One meeting was at midterm while the other was a week before finals. These meetings opened the door to build good rapport between teacher and student. However, because the meetings were mandatory, I am not sure they functioned that well.
When I reflect on good teachers I have had in the past, he is nowhere near the top. Unfortunately, the word forgettable comes to mind when trying to describe my English 1010 class. Though the reading material, I remember, was vaguely interesting, the conversations were not well conducted. Many of the students that should not have had the floor for more than a few minutes ended up talking for entire class periods. It was truly a good example of the disadvantages to giving Freire’s precepts full reign.
My English 2010 class was an entirely different experience. I took it as an independent study course for several reasons but mainly because I was living five hours away from Weber State’s Ogden campus. My professor, who I still regard as a brilliant and wonderful teacher, sent us packets which, ironically, we responded to online. It was during that awkward phase in the mid-twenty-tens when technology was still assimilating into and improving education. Now I am sure the entire course can easily function as an online class.
I remember being assigned an anthology filled to the brim with short stories, poems, and excerpts from popular literary pieces derived from authors all around the world and throughout various time periods in history. How we discussed the concepts was very similar to a canvas board. I remember being impressed by the assignments we were given and taking pleasure in reading them and responding to them. I knew at the time I wanted to be involved in education but I was not sure how. Once I was exposed to the works of talented authors throughout history, I began to develop a curiosity regarding why I enjoyed reading these works so much. From the pages of works by authors like Marlowe, Mary Shelley, Elizabeth Barret Browning, Oscar Wilde, Eugene O’Neill, Barbara Kingsolver, and Ben Okri, I began to discover a mysterious desire within myself to explore further into what these stories had to offer me. I would credit my successful English 2010 class as an assistant to my preexisting craving for good literature. I am not exactly sure why it was structured so well, but I would certainly argue that it was a good class.                        


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