Monday, February 27, 2006

Freewriting activity for Essay (note, this freewriting is extremely messy).

For my paper I want to talk about home schooling but mainly I want to talk about taxes and about why students and parents should be allowed to choose what type of education their children receive. For this I know that I should talk about different types of learning and how everyone learns very differently and why then people should be able to lean in a certain environment. Then I think I should talk about how each schooling system is unique and I guess why there is all this political upheaval anyways which is probably because nobody really knows why or how kids should what? Ok back on track so now the paper must talk about political controversy and why it exists and what it means to learn and how learning can be a mindset as well as an activity my own personal experiences I remember when I was home schooled I had a lot of time to go to the library and learn and go to the symphony, etc. As a result I feel much more cultured than other students and I think I am more motivated. Coming to college was no problem because I already knew time management because during the home schooling days I had to really use it. But I wonder if this is even applicable to my paper because well my goal is like a conversation talking about education, so then yes that could come into play at some point and be quite helpful to show a certain side even though I’m not trying to prove that home schooling is superior but I am trying to like I guess how parents should at least have the choice to choose whether they want to teach their child at home or not hmmm talk about statistics and the importance of education for societal advancement and why learning can and should be paid for by the state for both homeschoolers and public schoolers that way everyone can be educated.

Out of this free writing I realized a few main ideas that I need to talk about in my paper:
The back ground of home school and why people want to home school their children
How people learn in general and why learning occurs every where not just in the classroom
Public funding and the politics behind public school
Technicalities such as court cases and home school law
History that proves the need for change

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Style Lesson2 Summary

Once Williams’ audience understands the importance of writing clearly, he tackles a typically painful lesson: correctness. By outlining the different kinds of grammar rules, detailing the two kinds of invented rules, and providing examples where authors use “incorrect” grammar correctly, Williams teaches his audience that writing correctly does not mean following every grammatical rule ever established. Correct writing should not interfere with clarity, and when a writer must choose between correctness and clarity, clarity should always win.
Before getting into the dirty details of proper grammar, Williams claims correctness as both a historical accident and as unpredictable. Grammar holds as much power as writers give it, but in order to make grammatical choices one must learn about different types of rules. Williams talks about three kinds of rules- real rules define what makes English (articles precede nouns), the rules of Standard English distinguish standard dialect from nonstandard dialect, and invented rules include Folklore and Elegant Options. Because real rules are so simple and only difficult for a stranger to the English language, Williams details the two kinds of Invented Rules, beginning with Folklore. Very few readers notice if Folklore rules are violated, and because many writers ignore them, they are not really rules at all (Ex: beginning sentences with and, but, or because). Next, Williams discusses Elegant Options. Very few readers notice these rules as well, and authors choose to follow them as a stylistic move rather than a correctness move (Ex: don’t end a sentence with a preposition).
After reviewing the three kinds of rules, and looking at examples where violation of Folklore rules and Elegant Options are ok, Williams reader understands that if readers and writers ignore a rule, then the grammarians should change their rules rather then the writers. Although Williams believes in correctness, he understands that writers enjoy perusing choices that arise when writing clearly and gracefully, not grammatically correct.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Another reaction to Andre Brinks' A Dry White Season

In A Dry White Season Andre Brink did an enormous job of adding extremely insightful politics into narration between characters. On page 186, Melanie’s father shares some understanding about abstractions:
He grinned, exposing his uneven, yellow-stained teeth, many of them mere stumps. ‘One thing I seem to discover as I grow older is that the more one gets involved in philosophy and stuff, in transcendental things, the more surely you’re faced back to the earth. We’ll all go back to the old chtonic gods yet. That’s the problem of people running after Abstractions. Started with Plato. Mind you, he’s misunderstood in a shocking way. Still, give me Socrates any time. We’re all living in the spell of the Abstract. Hitler, Apartheid, the Great American Dream, the lot’”.
I love this passage because it reminds the reader of the realities behind abstractions. Farther along in the book the same character talks about humans’ tendency to look at the facts rather than the flesh. People tend to get so caught up in a “theory” or an “idea”, whether that theory or idea is acted out humanely and compassionately. Another example of this that comes to mind is segregation. Segregation (or like Brink uses the example of Apartheid) had many supporters because in theory, separating very different cultures seems like a good idea. Only when activists began protesting using real live emotion did the civil rights movement gain momentum. Only then will indifference turn into curiosity, and curiosity turn into action. In Sociology I learned how social movements are formed, with emphasis on getting people emotionally involved in the movement. Again in this writing class we learned about different types of argument, and I have found that emotional appeal captures the reader with incredible effectiveness. Perhaps pathos is so effective because of what Brink argues. Abstracts can become dangerous, allowing people to loose sight of the most reliable judge- emotion.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Here's another blog I wrote for the Randolph-Macon website.

Friday, February 24, 2006
Another busy week at Randolph-Macon! This semester is already going so fast, I cannot believe that it’s almost March. Spring break is in a month! Last weekend was so busy- the Randolph-Macon Basketball team went to the ODAC (the Old Dominion Athletic Conference) Tournament, and the pep band went along to support the team. The pep band usually just plays at the home basketball games, but this year we’ve grown so much and become much more active. We left on Saturday around noon (which is early morning for most college students), arrived in Roanoke around 4 pm, and settled into the hotel. The game started at 6, and the pep band was ready to go. The guys played so well, and although it was a tight game, we beat Bridgewater 65-55. The next day we played Randolph-Macon’s biggest rival, Hampton Sydney College, and won 93-82 in overtime. The Hampton Sydney game was amazing, fans on both sides were incredibly energetic, and the pep band had a blast. Unfortunately we went back to Ashland on Sunday night so that pep band students could attend class on Monday. Then, on Monday we met around 2 pm for another 4 hour drive to the Championship game between Randolph-Macon and Virginia Wesleyan. The basketball players did so well in this game, and the crowd was so encouraging, but in over time Virginia Wesleyan beat us 81-78. We didn’t get home until about midnight, and wow, we were all exhausted.
The craziness doesn’t stop here.
This week was rush week for Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity. This means that all the members are “brothers” regardless of gender, which is pretty cool. APO has unique goals different from that of other fraternities: friendship, leadership, and service. Also, members of APO can belong to another Sorority or Fraternity, because APO is mainly for community service. Anyways, rush was really fun this week, basically they just had some casual parties such as Vegas night (where they had cards and poker chips, etc.).
Other than all the fun stuff, classes have been busy as well. I have some papers to work on, two tests next week, and a few books to read (the usual). Have a good weekend everyone and I hope you’re getting an idea of all the fun things we have at Randolph-Macon College.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

In my FYEC: How We Move People class wit hDr. Sheckels, we read books, speeches, and other important literature that helped form and start modern social movements. For everything we read Dr. Sheckels asks us to journel a reaction. These journals are a mix between diary and academic paper, and should reflect on the readings.

In this journal I discuss the first section of A Dry White Season, a novel by Andre Brink. I summarize the story so that I understand it better, and I compare a small part of it to a novel we read previously in FYEC.

In A Dry White Season, Andre Brink narrates the story of Ben Du Toit, a white schoolteacher living in Johannesburg, South Africa. Under the corrupt South African government, Ben’s friend Gordon Ngubene supposedly “commits suicide” while in prison. This book takes place in the 1960’s, while racism was widespread in South Africa and young people were demonstrating against the cruel government. When, Gordon’s son dies of “natural causes” after protesting and demonstrating in the streets of Johannesburg, Gordon dives into the case and begins investigating how his son really died. Just as Gordon gets close enough to unveil the truth, police take him into custody and kill him.
Andre Brink writes in a unique style throughout this book. Unlike a lot of contemporary writers who experiment with chronology, Brink unfolds this story like a court case, allowing the reader to investigate and speculate along with Gordon, and eventually with Ben. Unlike the previous book we read for this class, No Telephone to Heaven, Brink uses narration to show political upheaval. In No Telephone to Heaven, Michelle Cliff creates a swirl like pattern as she tells her story in order to illustrate the confusion that goes hand in hand with political disorder. Brink exemplifies political disorder just as effectively, by creating so many mysteries that he convinces the audience of the government’s dishonesty and inconsistency.
This is a very interesting story because it truly questions the motives of the South African government and calls for social movement. Books such as this create so much tension in society that the readers are forced to realize the truth behind the fiction and revolt against the oppressive government.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

“The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.”
1 Corinthians 15:47
Here stands a man or woman with a shell, with a clear, gel like tube extending from the center or the body, leading destiny. Each human like an empty shell, a shell that may be various colors, deformed, incomplete. Regardless of this shell, from each extends a gelatin like, clear, tubular mass: The Soul- its consistency molded with multiple angles and dimensions, giving off a brilliant reflection like that of the interior of an ocean side seashell elegantly soaking up the gracious sunset. Despite whether the shell is parched from the crinkling burning sun of old age, or a shell fresh and smooth and light and luxurious, the interior consists, always, a rainbow of creativity and personality. Regardless of the importance of The Soul, the outer shell still holds great significance. For without the shell, the expression of The Soul goes without interpretation, uncontainable, hidden and immobile.
“But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh; animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.” 1 Corinthians 15:38-40
As a human, as a woman, as a blonde, as a white, as a student at a private college- I am classified. As a woman, as a black, as a Jamaican living in the Dungle, another is classified. Unequal? Belonging to a certain community should not affect interrelations between other communities. Embrace diversity- for as one soul carries one kind of brilliance, another soul carried another, and another soul another. Each soul differs from soul to soul in splendor. A rose and a lily, not a rose to a thorn.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Summary of an United Nations Article

The African country of Rwanda is currently in a state of genocide, and has been for many years. The Rwandan government developed a plan for the Socio-Economic Development Policy and Plan for Rwanda, which is being called the National Information and Communication Infrastructure 2001-2005 plan. Back in 1994, Col Theoneste Bagosora was basically the architect for the genocides in Rwanda, a genocide that claimed the lives of some 937,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus. Despite the horrific 1994 genocide, the mindset in many Rwanda citizens still reflect racist and sexist views, often times leading to violence. The current system of government is not necessarily experimental, but is somewhat still being established, as upcoming elections determine the condition and future of the country. Furthermore, the United Nations has worked to make a positive impact on the development of Rwanda, and reforms were introduced in 1997 to improve the social, economic, and human rights conditions of the country. Although reforms have been proposed, the United Nations needs to rally to get all its members to agree to support this effort, thus determining the outcome of the country and its future state.

Monday, February 20, 2006

In chapter 1 of Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, Joseph M. Williams first defines the principles and aims of good writing, then provides his audience with a brief history of unclear writing, discusses some causes of unclear writing, and reminds his reader of the importance of writing and rewriting. Beginning by stating that his main goal is to teach his reader how to write clearly (a skill Williams argues anyone can learn), he explains why clarity seems difficult by taking his reader through the history of clear writing. Providing his audience with several examples from authors such as James Fenimore Cooper and Mark Twain, Williams proves that historically both readers and writers appreciate clear and concise writing. These examples also demonstrate that while admiring clear writing some authors do not adopt clear writing. Therefore, Williams uses examples from several authors to illustrate the history of clear writing.
After establishing the history of clarity, Williams proceeds to evaluate some causes of unclear writing, giving his reader several to identify with. Williams argues that writers lack clarity because they make their prose extremely complex hoping their audience confuses difficult style with profundity. The other causes of unclear writing generally involve the writers disregard for the audience. For example, the writer may lack a clear understanding of the topic, or understand the topic so well and not revise it so that the reader understands also. Finally, Williams reminds his audience of the tool of rewriting. Williams reassures his reader that writers do not naturally employ clarity, but with rewrites and revisions they eventually acquire clarity. The first lesson of Style states several principles and aims of good writing, offers a brief history of unclear writing, explains a few main causes of unclear writing, and reiterates the importance of writing and rewriting.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Application of blogging journal that I am applying to another community.
In the spirit of discussing communities, I recently recognized a community significant not only to me but to Randolph-Macon (hopefully). On Krista Street stands a fairly small house called the pep band house. This house holds about 20 residents, ranging from ages 18 to 35 (the approximate age of the man of the house, the band director). Although the house is often occupied, its members also travel a lot, so in the driveway sit two 15 passenger vans. This weekend, the pep band traveled to the ODAC championship games in Roanoke, Virginia, to support Randolph-Macon’s basketball team. The bonding element of this group is a shared appreciation for team spirit and the ability to play a musical instrument. This house has had a few additions put on it over the past several years, growing by about 10 residents this year. Anyone can move in who has played a musical instrument, and there are no costs except that of a time commitment (this weekend as an example). Special terms are used by the house, such as different musical terms. For example, I’ve heard some residents use the Italian term for playing quietly “decrescendo”, to quite members of the house. Tensions and controversy occur about what music to play and when to schedule practices, but more so between the group and its financial supporters. Actually, the school supports the pep band greatly and generously, but the tension still exists because of the amount of money needed to make the pep band successful. Overall, this house is very spirited and loves sharing in camaraderie with the rest of the Randolph-Macon community.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Plot Summery of No Telephone To Heaven

In the powerful and gripping novel No Telephone To Heaven, Michelle Cliff, a Jamaican- American, navigates her audience through the life of Claire Saving, providing a broad look into various race and gender issues. Beginning with graphic descriptions of the Dungle in Jamaica (Jamaican slums), Cliff sets the scene for the rest of the novel but immediately comparing extreme poverty with resortish tourism and pale skinned Jamaicans. After weaving between the extremes of Jamaican economy, Cliff introduced a pale skinned, upper class Jamaican family, the Savages. During this part of the novel, Claire’s mother, Kitty, brings character conflict. Although they live a good life in Jamaica, the Savages’ flee to the United States to find a better life free of all racism and segregation. Taking place in the 1950’s, the America they encountered was filled to the brim with racism and segregation. Eventually, the racism drives Kitty out of New York and back to Jamaica, taking the younger and darker skinner daughter with her and leaving her husband and the lightest member of the family, Claire. Jumping forward until Claire Savage is a brilliant student studying Italian Renaissance Art in England (a very white thing to do), Kitty eventually dies from old age and Claire returns to Jamaica for the funeral. Here, Claire reunites with her African heritage. Nonetheless, she decides to return to Europe and finish her studies. Living a split life between her Jamaican roots and her pale skin/European education allows the audience to see racism and segregation at its worst. Claire refuses to commit to Jamaica because she knows that her pale skin in Europe can help her become extremely successful. Finally, Cliff proves to her reader that segregation occurs in many parts of the world, not just America.

Friday, February 17, 2006

I keep a blog for perspective Randolph Macon College students , and here is the update I did today.

Wow! What a busy month I had! It’s obvious that life at Randolph-Macon is busy when students like me cannot even find time to update this blog! Anyways, January Term class wrapped up nicely, and students went home, or wherever, for a week off before starting Spring Term. Break was wonderfully relaxing and greatly needed to help me gear up for a busy spring. Students came back to school on Super bowl Sunday, and being from Pittsburgh, I was waving my terrible towel here at school with a few other Steelers fans.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the popularity of Greek organizations at Randolph-Macon. Well, everything you’ve heard is true. The first week of spring semester (last week), spring recruitment for fraternities and sororities began. Recruitment was SO much fun, even though it kept me extremely busy. It began on Monday and ended with bid turn in on Sunday. The way that recruitment works is that the first night you visit all four sorority houses for a casual party at each, the second night you visit three or two (depending if your GPA is up to par), and the last night you can visit only up to two. Saturday night was the most fun night, because the attire was semi-formal- hooray for the little black dress. After the parties on Saturday, we returned to Brown Campus Center to fill out what’s called a preference card. Each recruit put down her preferred order of sororities. This may not seem like a hard decision (it’s just a sorority, right?), but it was SO difficult. Each house is so different, but so wonderful, that deciding which one you want to be a part of for the rest of your life is not an easy decision. I decided to pledge Alpha Gamma Delta, and oh my gosh, it has been SO MUCH FUN! We have “sister mothers”, so a sister in the sorority becomes your mother during the 8 week pledge period. My sister mother is so cool; she got me so many presents and is so much fun!
What else has been going on? Classes, of course. This spring my classes should be pretty difficult, but I am really enjoying them. I have the second half of my FYEC, which is a literature class, Social Geography, Spanish 212, and Advanced Expository Writing. I am also doing pep band still, and this weekend we are going to play at the ODAC championships for basketball. It should be really exciting, hopefully the basketball team wins!
Ok, so to wrap this up-
1) Spring Semester is CRAZY BUSY!
2) Incoming freshmen girls, GO THROUGH RECRUITMENT, and last but not least…
3) Take advantage of any breaks you have throughout the year to RELAX!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Here's anther short story I conjured up about my Grandmother on my Moms side of the family.

Jean fell in love with the handsome, red haired young flirt at youth group. Jean was attending a young peoples group at her church, Elfinwild Presbyterian Church in Glenshaw, when she spotted Kirk McCabe. Kirk seemed a bit wild to her, showing up with different girls and guys each week. She thought he’d never look at her. And besides, she was still planning to marry a tall, dark and handsome doctor. She hadn’t found that doctor yet, but she was attending Pittsburgh Women’s College to become a nurse or a lab technician.
The sight of blood made her sick and the tall dark and handsome doctor was replaced with a slender, medium height, blue eyed, red headed outgoing man. Jean and Kirk became an item very quickly, falling in love practically overnight. Kirk was used to going out with gals who were beauty queens and socialites. He’d never before met one quite like Jean. She was tall and slender, had a sparkle in her eyes and a certain whimsy that he found irresistible.
It was during World War Two that they met. Like most red blooded Americans, Kirk signed up for Officers Training School in the US Army. Off he went to training, and back Jean went to school, but they never forgot each other. They began writing letters and those quickly turned in to love letters. One time when he was home on leave, Kirk proposed to Jean. She accepted and they were married in early November in Elfinwild Church. Jean wore a candlelight satin gown. It had a sweetheart neck, a dropped waist, long sleeves that came to points on her hands and a long cathedral length train. They were married by candlelight and held a reception afterwards in her parent’s home.
They went on their honeymoon to a place in Texas called Palacios. Jeannie expected it to be very romantic, from the sounds of the name of the town. Well, it ended up being called ‘palashis’, no romance there, in a single room with a cot and a light bulb hanging from a wire in the center of the room. Still, when Kirk returned to the army base he’d managed to put Jean in a state of ‘motherliness’ and so she had to quit school and prepare to make a home. Kirk had been exposed to radio active materials. At the time the thinking was that it would make a man sterile, so they hadn’t bothered to be cautious on their honeymoon.
Eventually over the next few months, with a few visits home, Kirk was given leave to see his firstborn arrive. I only know that while he’d been gone Jean had noticed some changes in her body. Things just didn’t feel right. A trip to the doctor confirmed her concerns and she discovered the baby had died at some point around six months or so. He wanted her to carry it to term, so she sadly went through a few more months and gave birth to a tiny, underdeveloped baby, not breathing. The doctors at the hospital gave it some kind of horrible name like an ensephalahydric monster. That name described a baby that had a gap between the spine and the brain, leaving the brain undeveloped, but with water around it making it too large. They did name that little unborn girl. She was Mary. That was it. Kirk went off to Germany to continue fighting against the Nazi’s and Jean waited for his return, living at home with her parents.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Communities I am a part of:
- Resident of Ligonier, Pennsylvania
- Randolph Macon College
- Jones dormitory resident
- Intervarsity
- Pittsburgh Steelers Fan

Resident of Ligonier, Pennsylvania
As a resident of Ligonier, I gain a sense of community because of the way the town functions. Ligonier is a small town, and all the small business owners know my family and most of them go to my church. I am part of this community because my parents raised me in it, and rather than me becoming part of it because of my values, my values reflect those of Ligonier. For example, I appreciate small business, quaintness in architecture, and rural areas. Because I live where a lot of people ride horses and ski resorts are 10 minutes away, I value the outdoors and appreciate the aesthetic qualities of rural America.

Randolph-Macon College
R-MC is definitely a community. Getting an education from Randolph-Macon means that the students will have one on one attention from the professors, become very close to other students, and feel like they have control over what happens on campus. Because we eat, sleep, learn, and play together, Randolph-Macon students share common goals and interests, increasing the feeling of a community on campus.

Jones Dormitory Resident
Although this might not seem like a community, living in any dorm in the freshmen village on campus brings those students within it a sense of community. Living in Jones is just like a smaller community within Randolph-Macon. Because I live with these people, I go to them for help when I have a problem, share camaraderie with them, and expect them to do so in return.

This Christian organization on campus is a community that reflects the values of its participants. I was a member of a church community at home, and coming to Randolph Macon I knew the importance of having good friends that would help me grow in my faith. The relationships that occur between the students that attend Intervarsity foster a religious belief and build strong friendships.

Pittsburgh Steelers Fan
Although being a football fan in general could be considered being a part of a community, being a Pittsburgh Steelers Fan is unique. Broadcasters often call Steelers fans the wildest and most involved fans in all of sports (not just football). Being a Steelers fan means being part of a community that shares a common love for a team. Living a half an hour outside of Pittsburgh, this was definitely apparent in the past month during Super bowl time. In fact, I was walking to my car in Ligonier and the town square was blaring Steelers fight songs (this happened every day before the Super bowl).

Communities on Krista Street.
When first turning down Krista Street, you’ll see Randolph-Macon College. This house has an interesting architecture, and its residents and customs make it quite dynamic. RMC is defined by a group of students from approximately age 18 to 22, Professors varying in age and experience, coaches, and campus workers. Many of the residents, especially the student body, have shared interests. The student body is seeking an education and a fun social life. Most of the students share general values, such as being mainly of Christian background (RMC is affiliated wit the Methodist church), raised by parents that value education, and desiring an education enough that they found a way to pay for it. RMC came into being around the Civil War period, and this affects the way the students experience college. The lay out of the college reflects the way the original student body felt they could best learn and enjoy their college, and different traditions have adapted. For example, the Thanksgiving dinner at Estes is a tradition that has been around for a long time and that all students look forward to. The costs of being a member of this community are very high. A member must not only have worked hard enough in high school to become accepted into this community by the Admissions council, but must pay around 30 thousand dollars a year. Although members of the RMC community do not necessarily have a certain dress of language, the community could be stereotyped as a preppy school of J Crew lovers and people that say “That’s so sketchy” and “I’m not going to lie”, more often than other phrases.
Right beside RMC is a house called Jones dormitory. The factors that define this group are more definite than those that define RMC. Because Jones is a freshman dorm, most students are 18 or 19, are interested in getting good enough grades to keep a scholarship, and enjoy hanging out with other Jones residents. Most students in Jones are honors students, so probably more studying goes on in the community than in other sub-communities of RMC. There is no extra cost to being a part of the Jones community, and the rewards include having friends that you can always go and hang out with or go to with a problem. Because there are only about 30 members in this community, they certainly use special terms and behave in a certain way. The majority of the residents share a multitude of inside jokes, so that when one resident says the joke to another resident they are the only RMC students that know what is being said. This is very difficult to decode.
Moving farther along the street sits a house called Intervarsity. The factors defining this group are even more specific than the previous houses. This is a religious group, so all the members share a reverence for or an interest in God (the Christian God). Therefore, the bond of this group is based on their shared values and interests in Christianity. Members generally use certain terms and dress a certain way. For example, the average member of this community could carry on a conversation about a book in the Bible, a verse in Psalms, or a specific word such as Grace. Because of their belief in modesty, most members of this community avoid belly shirts or baring their cleavage. To become a member one simply must agree with the beliefs of Intervarsity.
Probably the most unique and fun of the houses on Krista Street is the one where the Pittsburgh Steelers fans reside. This is the most unique house because it has the broadest member profile. Residents can be from ages 1 to 100, of any ethnicity, of any educational background, and any religion. To be a Steelers fan means to love a specific team, which allows little personal differences to disintegrate. Although diverse, this group does behave a certain way. Each member can often be seen sporting Steelers gear, waving a terrible towel in front of the TV or at Heinz Field, or showing off a Heinz Ward bumper sticker on the back of a car. To become a member is extremely simple, no costs of initiations required.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Audience: Dr Malesh/ A writing teacher
Argument type: logos/from reason
From a logical perspective, it seems only reasonable and intelligent to say that writing can indeed be taught. Using a deductive sort of reasoning (which will help teachers understand more clearly why writing can be taught), because all people are born as babies, and all babies must be taught any knowledge they acquire (excluding instinct), then obviously all people must be taught any knowledge they acquire as well. Writers have God given talent, right? Sort of. One can be taught to obtain a certain mindset- sure a ballerina has a love and respect for the art- but, she also spends hours perfecting her technique at the bar. Habits and skills are affected by teachers and leaders in society (a little girl clasps her hands when she prays not because she was born with the desire to, but because she is taught that praying in a certain form helps her connect better to God).
In dictionary language, talent is a natural endowment of an ability of a superior quality, also explained as an innate ability. Abilities are controllable- they can be fostered or they can be ignored. Consequently, one may have a certain “knack” for writing, but one may not have the patience to apply that natural talent. The student desiring to learn is the student that will excel in writing. Sometimes teachers confuse desire to learn and natural talent- what a tragedy for students across the world!
To conclude, it is only logical to argue that writing can be taught to a student. True, a student may not originally enjoy or want to write, but once the student overcomes that, he or she can take control and improve writing through patience, practice, and perseverance.
Audience: Dr. Malesh/A writing teacher
Argument form: emotional
A writer is an artist, painting- creating- imagining- and gracefully placing each thought onto paper. With this releasing of ones emotions and ideas, the author’s very soul gets tangled into the writing and becomes involved in the personality of each word. Point being, writing is not only a personal experience, but an experience that the writer completely controls. If a writer is an artist, then more than just talent plays into the finished piece. Artists improve; they change and grow and though their ultimate vision might not change, the gradually learn how to reach that vision in a more precise and exact way.
To teach does not mean to mechanically empty knowledge into the anxious mind of some meek student. Rather teaching should imply open discussions, allowing teacher to graciously impose a certain expertise while the student brings personal experience and past knowledge to the table. With this in mind, teachers must realize that students can and will mold and develop. To give up on a student is devastating to the whole of humanity- for if ancient genius was not transferred to students then the world would progress stubbornly. Therefore, teaching involves a constant debate between student and teacher, allowing growth, change, and development.
As a writer, I can only imagine what effect not being able to improve my skills would have on me. I remember my 10th grade English teacher and the encouragement he gave me. He always believed in his students and realized their potential- not because of their talent but because of their capacity. A teach may see a certain desire to learn in a student, but only a student can agree to take advice and improve himself/herself.

Monday, February 13, 2006

My grandmother died right before I was born, and over J-term break I asked my mom to tell me stories about her- trying to gain a sense of who she was and what parts of her I can make tangible by recognizing in my mother and I. Here's a snapshot of one moment of my Grandmothers life (certainly a character reveiling one (This applies to the previous blog too):

Some people are just BORN more comfortable with themselves than others. In this case we are referring to the comfort level having to do with how one walks about the house ‘dressed’. For example, my Grandpa Kirk always at least wore banana pants (loose khakis) and a colored t-shirt and socks. My Grandma Jean felt very comfortable in a bra and underwear. I might add that she was frequently appalled at the circumstances her ‘comfortableness’ left her in. She had to ‘recover’ from some pretty interesting situations.
Grandpa Kirk and Grandma Jean enjoyed having life, lots of life, around them. After most of the kids were grown and married it left just them at home, rattling around in that big ranch house on the farm. Grandma Jeans favorite state of existence was either ‘not quite up yet’ or ‘going to bed eventually’. Perhaps this was because with five kids she was tired all the time.
Anyways, back to her ‘state of existence’….
Grandma Jean, the shy, wilting flower, frequently sat in the living room reading the paper or Ladies Home Journal or Women’s Day magazines, or cutting out articles from the ‘International Arabian Horse Times’. She always had a project in progress; a bit of business news she was discussing with her parents over coffee, a particular horse bloodline she was considering for her herd, a color or theme change in the garden. She would sit on the couch surrounded by papers and magazines, tablets, pens and scissors. She never was so busy that she couldn’t stop and chat with her kids, though, and so they never had to find the right time to approach her. She was always approachable and usually in her ‘state of existence’.
Here’s the rub….
My Aunt Missy had a brother, Meade, who had finished school and was living in our basement as an apartment. Meade was either taking his last few classes or working. He was a nice enough guy, glad for a place to stay (he was from Florida), and enjoyed the privacy of the basement because it had a separate entrance from the house.
Meade had a key and would walk around back and down to the basement, never having to speak to a soul if he didn’t want to. That was all working out just fine and nobody had to change their habits to accommodate Meade. Right? Wrong! One evening Meade had forgotten to leave with his house key.

This gets funny…..
Meade came to the front door. The door was locked. Meade went around to the kitchen door. The door was locked. Meade knocked on the door. Grandma Jean got up and went to the kitchen. Grandma opened the door. Meade walked in. Grandma was wearing her ‘comfortable clothes’. At this point it would be important to remember from a previous story that Grandma Jean grew up in a Victorian family. That means Very Proper.
Now we’ll go to
“And I quote”…
Meade: Sorry, I forgot my key
Grandma: OOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! Then she recovers quickly, being a properly brought up woman…
Grandma: Good evening, Meade. She looks around the well lit utility room she was standing in.
Meade: So, I’ll just be….
Grandma: How was your evening, Meade? She grabs a tea towel….always polite.
Meade: Well, I was at a movie with Kathy. Meade shifts back and forth on his feet
Grandma: Oh, what movie? She places the little tea towel strategically in front of her, covering perhaps one breast?
Meade: (shares about the film)
Grandma: (arranges the tea towel, leans against the freezer, thinks about death)
Grandma: Well, it’s getting late...
Meade: YES! (Breathes) I THINK I’LL GO TO BED NOW
Grandma: YES, Goodnight then, Meade
Meade: walks quickly towards the basement steps
Grandma: breaks out in a sweat

Sunday, February 12, 2006

This isn’t a charming, cutesy story; but it is a story that is essential to understanding who my grandmother was at the very center of her heart and soul. My Grandma Jean had a little brother named Bobby. He was a red haired, blue eyed little boy with a congenial disposition. He was referred to as quiet, sweet, intelligent and engaging. Jeannie adored him and he adored her. I believe he was four or five years her junior. As the only survivors of an attempt at a large family they were doted on by their parents, but not spoiled. Theirs was a conservative and Victorian family. Manners meant everything, much value being placed on attentiveness and obedience.

One late winter day Bobby was sledding with his friends. Pittsburgh being a hilly town, many of the streets were blocked off in the winter for the children to use for sledding. The sleds were made of wood with metal tracks kept waxed for speed, able to inflict serious injury if met with flesh. Bobby and a friend had a collision and fell off their sleds, Bobby’s sled cutting him deeply just above the eye. The other boy died quickly from his injuries and Bobby was taken to the hospital for treatment. Back in those days Penicillin wasn’t in use for infection and a staph bacteria developed in Bobby’s wound. After days in the hospital, touch and go, he succumbed to the infection and passed away. This was a complete heartbreak for the family, and being Victorian meant the parents closed their bedroom door, keeping Jeannie out, and mourned for days. This happened to coincide with Jeannie’s big 12th Birthday Party that she had been counting on, leaving her confused, sad and jealous of all the attention Bobby got. She remembers wishing he’d die so that she could have her party. When he cooperated she was sure she was the cause. She still remembered hearing a relative say “Too bad it had to happen to the sweet one”, giving her certainty that everyone wished it had been her. After that happened, and never having her parents acknowledge her loss of her little brother, she took to hitting her head against the bricks of the school building during recess on the playground. She so hated herself for what she’d caused that she wished it had been her that died.

My Grandma Jean told me this account frequently, leaving me with the impression that she’d never really forgiven herself for her evil, selfish thoughts when her brother was dying. She spent the rest of her life sacrificing her own desires for the desires of others. She put her parent’s needs before her own, and even before Grandpa Kirks wishes. She put our demands before her own needs. Grandma embarked from that event on a trip of repentance lasting her whole life. As light hearted and kind as she was, there was always an undertone of inability to forgive that she carried with her. That inability to forgive most likely played a role in bringing her to a place in her life where she became a Christian, turning that burden over to the cross.
Although Valentines Day is still a few days away, I decided to examine some love poems, hoping to see what inspires such lyrical prose, what variations love poems come in, and how the writers use different techniques to evoke an incredibly powerful emotion (The next few blogs will progressively look at love from different perspectives). I took the first step in this journey by looking at what other writers said about love. The result, a poem called “He Whispers” by Anna Akhmatova’s, found in a book titled “Love Poems”, a collection of poems from all time periods and by various writers. Akhmatova lived between 1889 and 1966, so this poem is relatively contemporary. In this poem, Akhmatova captures the almost annoying dedication that comes with love:
He whispers: ‘I’m not sorry
For loving you this way-
Either be mine alone
Or I will kill you.’
It buzzes around me like a gadfly,
Incessantly, day after day,
This same boring argument,
Your black jealousy.
Grief smothers-but not fatally,
The wide wind dries my tears
And cheerfulness begins to soothe,
To smooth out this troubled heart.
According to a government website, in 2004 surveys classified approximately 68 percent of crimes as “crimes of passion”. In short, crimes of passion are crimes that result from jealousy. The committer claims that they are so in love with a person that the only way to keep that person to themselves is through death. This type of crime goes back as far as history, and is probably one of the more popular themes used by Shakespeare. So then, my question is what drives a person, a person tragically in love, to the sort of jealousy that ultimately ends any possibility of happiness? Furthermore, how can one define love; if “I did it for love” then love is an action, and actions have driving factors and initial emotions. Multiple definitions may not result in a definite answer, but perhaps a search for an answer will construct a some permanent way to define such a dynamic part of humanity.

Friday, February 10, 2006

I recently watched an independent film titled “Wings of Desire”, which, in fact, served as the inspiration for the popular movie “City of Angels". This profound film begins with several scenes in which two angels observe human life. They comment on different physical sensations that humans luxuriously embrace, the same sensations that, because of their immortality, they cannot experience. What an irony- considering the goal of humanity (from both a religious and a theological perspective) - is to obtain immortality and escape damnation and death. Yet here two immortal beings- beings whom captivate and epitomize beauty holiness completion, investigate the human condition with wonder and envy. Though surely at some point each mortal individual overlooks his or her devastatingly mysterious condition, and furthermore looks past life on earth and strives for some eternal glory, two angels reflecting on the simplicity of humanity, the spectrum of feeling which allows for deep compassion and uplifting hope, brings us back to reality. Literally.

To feel pain. To feel love. To feel warmth. Summer rain beating against a dewy window.

Crying until your eyes turn blue. The sizzle of walking on hot pavement. Diving into a freezing

pool of water. Running in the crisp autumn air until your breath hurts. Turning over the silky

cloth of a pillow in the deep night, feeling the underlying side’s cool refreshment. A meal. Water

streaming off your body after standing up in the bath tub. Naked feet pressing into a rich

carpet. Listening. Silence. Beginnings. Ends.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

For this assignment, I once again used the Fuel quote “All that shimmers in this world is sure to fade away”. First, I reworded the quote as many times as possible, dabbling with word play to see the affect this sentence has when even one word changes. Here’s what I came up with:

All that glistens on this globe is sure to glide away.
All that gleams within humanity certainly fades away.
Everything shining in this earth loses its color.
Each glistening, gleaming, shining, shimmering, shocking, thing in this world surely fades away.

Next, I added descriptive clauses to see what kind of analogies I could come up with. I ended up with:

All that glistens on this globe is sure to glide away, like golden arrows whistling through the dainty clear air.
All that gleams with humanity certainly fades away, like a team of bustling profanity settling and then suddenly stirred by a new innovation.
Everything that shines in this earth loses its color, like a fading, hazy, blurred silver spoon reflecting nothing of real consistency.
Each glistening, gleaming, shining, shimmering, shocking thing in this world surely fades away, like some flowering, reaming, silkily soaring- and suddenly! - Dreary dream.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

“All that shimmers in this world is sure to fade away.”

All of the beauty, the intense and captivating external attractiveness of this world which, as the fashionable group Fuel argues, surely fades in its temperance, all the beauty hints to an everlasting, eternal, and extraordinary world. Perhaps we, as members of a community with aesthetic qualities, should gaze at these natural worldly wonders and transform them into something of real substance and permanence, as children imaginatively use make believe to carry them through whimsical paths- a simple stream transformed into a majestic transporter into an ancient battle scene, or a magical shimmering pool of thousands of diamonds- diamond soup perchance. Furthermore, a leaf falling from an autumn tree creatively dances in the breeze, taking on a personality all its own, zig zagging shapes into thin air which dissolve as the rambunctious breeze picks up and sweeps them into never land. A snowflake mischievously drops heavily from the sky and suddenly, as if it changes its mind and immediately regrets pulling so rapidly, decides to drastically reduce the speed of its fateful journey to join its siblings on the comfort of earth, and spins, leaps, flies energetically through the air as if embracing its travels despite the frightful feeling of free fall. And therefore, let us never forget the child’s imagination that, like the stream and the leaf and the snowflake, dance through life, rejoicing in its possibilities and reaching to every corner of its limitations. Only then does the occasional falseness of shimmer and shine transform into something eternally tangible.
Describe your expectations for this class. What do you expect the class to be? What is influencing your perception of this class? What do you want to leave this class knowing? Goals/looking forward to/nervous? What is the most important change you want to see in yourself of your writing that you think this course could foster?
Because I had Dr. Malesh for a writing class last semester, I more than just expect a lot of work from this class, but I guarantee it. Nonetheless, it is work that I look forward to because I know that Dr. Maleshes expectations will help shape me into the kind of writer that I want to be. I expect to become a clearer and more concise writer, to understand and have resources readily available that will help me with writing, and to gain a confidence in myself as a writer. The reason I perceive this to be a difficult class is because I do expect a lot out of myself and want to improve my writing, and well, improvements never go down silkily but go down painfully and with stubbornness. Though my goals for this class are generally broad, I also have very specific skills that I will learn in this class that will increase my confidence. After this class I want to be able to tackle any writing project with enthusiasm and know-how.
My other goals for the class include:
1) To become less wordy
2) To be a clear writer
3) To be concise
4) To make convincing arguments
Those being my specific goals, the main goal I have is to put more personality and vitality into my writing, arguing and crafting my writing into something which compels and engages the reader. I want my readers to be in awe.
Most students write, and have been writing for a long time. Personally, my experience with writing has been the same as any other student- well, in most ways. I have always completed my writing assignments with an affinity for the writing process, enjoying the brainstorming and drafting and everything that follows. As an admirer of good writing, I embrace the idea of “being” a writer. Ironically, I rarely write during my free time, and not because I cannot write or lack the time to write, but because the experience consists of such freedom that I often do not know what to write. Technically, writing could hold no limitations, but like any game or, in fact, world, the lack of rules seems entirely too unnatural to me. All things have rules- and like any game the game of writing should have specific guidelines, allowing the artistic brush of the writer to bend and mold those rules. That said, my past experience with writing exclusively involves a constant desire to learn how the rules and techniques of writing.
Surely my writing reflects my strengths and weaknesses, and I am aware of several of them, but probably not all of them. My strengths include mainly my love for the medium- not everyone things of writing as an enjoyable activity, and I do. More specifically, I write creatively and with tight organization (hopefully), designing the layout of my work in a logical and clear manner. Some of my weaknesses include basic mechanics, such as spelling and grammar. Additionally, I tend to write in a flowery style, which sometimes distracts or confuses my reader as they lose themselves in my wordiness.
In High School AP English my class focused on different rhetorical strategies, so when I write I try to employ techniques such as alliteration, etc. As far as my writing process, I do a lot of prewriting, depending on the assignment. With an informal writing assignment, such as this one, I generally briefly brainstorm, compose a rough draft on notebook paper, and the revise my work as I type in on the computer. For more serious compositions, I spend hour’s prewriting- I brainstorm, free write, outline, and eventually draft my work molding it until perfect.
In conclusion, I have some experience with writing that I would like to extend, broadening my knowledge of how to write. My strengths and weaknesses are apparent to me and hopefully I can nourish the first and allow the second to pass away.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006