Sunday, February 28, 2010

Inventing the University

It was interesting to learn how instructors grade our timed- essays for the university placement test. I remember that my essay prompt was “Do you think tattoos effects the person in the workplace”, or something of this sort. It was quite difficult to answer this prompt because, I was not sure on how to write the essay. I knew that I had to have a more “academic prose” as David Bartholomae stated but at that moment I did not know what that was. It is quite difficult for first year students to write in a style of academia simply because students do not know what academic writing is. We are encouraged to write our opinions and simultaneously meet the requirements of the university. The language that is expected is unknown when writing “academic papers” making student’s feel that their writing is inadequate. As writers, we must always write in the language of our reader. In this case the university is our reader, an academic constitution in which first year student are new to. Students then have to take on the persona of the performer self instead of the authentic self. In a way many student’s academic writing may be an imitation just because we do not understand the academic language, it is unnatural to us. This though could be changed if we had a better experience of writing in grade school (especially public schooling where there are fewer resources).

During the group discussions, we had a question regarding if the amount of sentence errors correspond to how well the writers were able to approximate academic writing. Bartholomae said in his article that this is not true. He gave the example of the Clay Model writer and the White Shoes writer. The White shoes writer had a relatively error free essay compared to the Clay Model yet in an “academic setting” the Clay Model writer was better. Many student feel that they must stay in their “comfort zones” to have a clean paper and feel hesitant to expand their writing. Speaking about the White Shoes writer Barthalome says, “He will have to be convinced that it is better to write sentences he might not so easily control, and he will have to be convinced that it is better to write muddier and more confusing prose (in order that it may sound like ours)” p.22. What he means by this is that students have to take risks even if the sentence structure may be mal-structured. I think this is what happens to most students. We are trying to have error free essays that in the end we do not take the risk to go above and beyond due to fear.

I feel that this is what I do. I try my best to have error free essays that I lack ingenuity due the fear of having an unclear or “muddy essay”. If I want to write more academically though, I am going to have to go in deep into the discourse. With these reading I am able to figure out what professors are looking for in academic writing even though I still feel inexperienced.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I'm glad the article was helpful to you in that way! That's cool. And thanks for telling us about your university placement test topic -- I don't think I would have an easy time writing on a topic like that, either!