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Richard Davidian

Dr. Jan Rieman

English 1103

October 13, 2010

Retrospect and Foresight

Throughout this semester, this class called “College Writing” has certainly lived up to its

name. I have taken part in many assignments, both in groups and individually. Writing in my day

book has kept my thoughts open and my writing hand conditioned. The weekly paper from

Writing to Explore lets me reflect and write about topics that would otherwise go unnoticed. Our

major essays have challenged my writing skill, and will continue to do so through the end of the

semester. The next major paper, regarding my inquiry question, and the digital portfolio

guarantee this stretch.

At the beginning of this course, I was uncertain of what to expect. Oddly enough, I still

have that feeling. Every assignment that has been given is new and useful. The works I have

created have content that is derived from other reading assignments. For example, I was always

under the impression that flaws, when expected, are plentiful. This was brought to reality for me

after reading Williams’ “The Phenomenology of Error.” In that essay, the author purposefully

made numerous mistakes, many of which remained undiscovered. He used this tactic to prove his

point of expectations. When reading a written piece by seemingly distinguished author, the

reader assumes perfection, thus perceiving it. Literacy is sometimes just as perfect as one would


Literacy, and to what degree one has it, is a huge part of the class and is very connected

to anyone’s life. Everyone has their own sponsors of literacy, which are defined as anything that
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contributes to a form of literacy, whether is be school, family, location, financial status, or social

status. Deborah Brandt does a fantastic job illustrating this idea. I myself have been very lucky to

have multiple sponsors of literacy, such as my school system, home life, libraries, and readily

available technology. Essays that I have read, such as those mentioned above, represented goals

for myself. Never before have I read something with as much intellectual language as Brandt’s

essay. The goal is not simply to read, but to understand them as well, eventually being able to

apply lessons learned in my own writing, which is a target to aim for regarding the class goals.

The novel we have just finished reading, The Blue Sweater, written by Jacqueline

Novogratz, is a fascinating book. It recounts the author’s tale of changing the economic status of

women in Africa. Reading this book has been very relevant to me because the author majored in

economics, the same subject in which I am currently majoring in. Novogratz is someone who I

can look up to. She gives me a finish line that I feel like I should race toward. Seeing her give

her speech at the university was inspiring; it made me realize that she is just a person, just like

me, and my own ambition is the only thing that may stop me from being a sort of hero like her.

These readings and the introspective style of assigned works allow me to practice reading

and writing differently. Nearly everything I discover in relation to this class is relevant to our

writings in some way. As I read, I am beginning to annotate, take more notes, and internalize

what is being communicated. It has never been a strong point of mine, but it seems necessary

when dealing with more complex argumentative essays. Because of this personally different way

of reading, I can use a great amount of examples in my own writing from other texts. Even

though I am still not very used to this practice, I feel relatively comfortable with it. It takes more

initial effort, but it eases the task of writing in the long run.
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In relationship to the course goals, my personal goals, and the Classroom Culture

agreement, I feel like I have changed to accommodate them. My writing has progressed to be

more open-minded, personal, and meaningful. I am more engaged in academic texts, more

interpretive, and educated. Whenever I read an excerpt from Writing about Writing, I take it

to heart. I try to identify the lesson being taught and then make an effort to learn it. When we

have class discussions, I am not hesitant to speak my mind if something is on it. I do not mind

when people disagree with my opinion, because I know that I have that same right. One goal that

I feel like I am falling short on is getting to know everyone in the class. There are a handful of

people I still haven’t spent any time with in or out of the classroom, and I would very much like

to. Despite the day spent doing the Venture activities, I still sense an awkward barrier of

acquaintances. Perhaps I’ll switch my usual seat one day. I hope that I get to know more people

on a personal level in the near future.

This class definitely does not come without challenges. As mentioned earlier, what is

required to be read and written is more intensive than any other writing course I’ve taken. I feel

competent as a writer to complete my literary tasks well, but I have to put more ideas into them.

One way of doing that is peer editing, which has also been an obstacle for me. I’ve never been

good at constructive criticism, whether I am giving or taking it. I always felt too awkward to

suggest a change or too stubborn to change what I have written. This class has taught me to be

more elastic and free with my writing. After letting other classmates review my essays, they offer

insightful and beneficial advice, like how to elaborate on points that I make. I’ve broken through

barriers and am now actually relieved that the peer editing sessions are being implemented.

Along with my ears, my mind is now open to change and innovation.

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Quickly approaching is the due date of inquiry paper. Throughout my English classes,

there has never been anything that I loathe more than research papers. I love making a clear

argument and writing creatively, but to me, research is a wrench thrown into a system of gears.

Hopefully I will find enjoyment in this paper because it is about a topic that is applicable to me;

it will be assessing the effectiveness of the Accelerated Reader program. I am still uncertain

about the argument I will make. As for the question itself, which asks about the overall

effectiveness of the program, I do not think it needs much revising. There seems to be plenty of

sources and studies from which I can gain a clear position, although I am eager to hear what my

peers will contribute. All throughout my elementary and middle school years, the Accelerated

Reader program hung over me like a raincloud. This research will be a good chance to see if the

time spent reading books and taking quizzes for points actually had a purpose to it.

The past seven weeks have been demanding, but rewarding. With all the work assigned, I

have gotten much more practice with writing creatively and thoughtfully. I have gained more

insight and background knowledge from the essays I have read, and I feel that even just halfway

through the semester I have become a better writer. I have become more familiar and

comfortable with new reading and writing principles, and my goals for the class are being

steadily completed. The skills that are being honed in college writing are also carrying over to

other classes. For instance, the chapters in my astronomy book are becoming easier to understand

and read. I am also finding connections between different assignment categories. Certain day

book entries help with making a preliminary idea for another assignment. The day book entries

themselves are often based off of previous readings. Two final challenging hurtles remain, which

are the inquiry paper and the digital portfolio. They mark the end of a class, and I am ready to
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complete them. Without me noticing until now, I have become more prepared to finish this class

through learning from the given assignments.