For Writing: New Media

When faced with writing a paper vs. creating a Powerpoint presentation, I am almost certain that most students would pick the Powerpoint. Even if it means a presentation comes along with it. I have come up with a few reasons why this is a preference:

  1. It’s fun & easier to tackle/organize
    1. A paper is tedious, and with so much to do it is often hard to know where to start. With a Powerpoint, you can break up all your slides to keep your points focused and organized.
  2. Less is encouraged
    1. This is the college students favorite thing. Professors want clean slides, and actually encourage minimal wording.
  3. Forced to be concise
    1. In a paper, you often get going on some elaborate explanation when trying to add to a point. This is especially true when there is a minimum page number to reach. With a Powerpoint, you give the concise facts.
  4. Don’t really need to elaborate
    1. Any elaboration you might do will come by word of mouth, during your presentation. This is easy for a lot of people, as they find it easier to explain when it’s not down in hard print.
  5. Can add more to it with media
    1. Pictures, video clips, links to other websites, etc. My Biological Anthropology professor puts together some of the best Powerpoint’s, full of interesting media, that really keeps me focused and helps me learn, compared to just lecturing in front of the class. 

For Writing: Myself as a Future Tutor

I feel fairly confident becoming a Writing Center Tutor, as I feel I have a good foundation of experience helping other writers. I have been in a variety of Creative Writing classes and poetry workshops where we participate in workshops, where I’ve had the ability to read and respond to others work in a group setting. I generally don’t mind workshop, because I don’t feel like my feelings are getting hurt in the process, and I should’t be hurting anyone else’s. Workshop is mostly criticism, and I think that nothing should be taken personally in this type of exercise. I know I will need to tune up my speed of analysis when in the Writing Center: in workshop, you are often given a piece days before having to respond to it. I am worried about having to quickly respond to what I see in the Writing Center, having to read a piece of work and immediately have recommendations for it.

I have also worked as a literacy tutor for young Bridgeport kids for the past few years. I know this has helped me become more outgoing, especially in groups, and feel generally confident in the educational setting. I like to think tutoring comes kind of naturally to me, at least for the little kids. I like being with the elementary school kids because I am in a role between their peer and teacher: we can relate, but I still hold a little authority. I like being older, as I feel in control. I am curious to see how this dynamic differs in the Writing Center, since I will be working with actual peers, and how it affects my confidence going into the appointment.

For Writing: Professors Different Commentary Styles

I have been in classes where professors have left me copious comments, and classes where  I’ve only received a few vague comments. How much I appreciate each style varies on the assignment and its purpose.

My professors for Creative Writing classes have been the ones to leave me pages on pages of response to my writing. In France, my Creative Nonfiction professor would leave comments all throughout a piece, and then finish my filling entire sheets with handwritten comments. I appreciate this type of response, knowing that she spent a lot of time on my work and see’s enough potential in it to recommend changes. I had the same experience in my Poetry class at Fairfield University, where a poetry portfolio would have an entire typed response, outlining the great parts and things that needed work. This, too, showed the professors commitment to helping me develop the craft of creative writing. I find that professors are more likely to give these type of comments when you are in a drafting process, since you are really looking for constructive criticism and helpful feedback, and concrete things that you can work on for future drafts.

On the other hand, I recently wrote a paper for my ethics class, where I did not get the paper back; just an online note that gave the grade and said “good outline, analysis shakey”. I would have loved to see her written comments scrawled across my paper, to see how my ethical analysis is lacking, and specifically what sections need work. I have been wondering where this paper went wrong. However, there is nothing I am doing with this paper in the future, and my grade is final, so I suppose it really does not matter.

The Struggles of a Lazy, Procrastinating Over-Achiever

When thinking about the things that I really must motivate myself for, I was honestly a little embarrassed. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m a permanent resident of Struggle City. I have to motivate to do my homework and go to the gym. I have to convince myself in the morning to show up to work. I wouldn’t get out of bed most days without a personal pep talk.

I really wonder why this is; I’m not afraid of hard work, and I do well in general, whether at school or in the workplace. I have always been an over-acheiver, and really motivated once I get going. But the getting going always seems to be the issue. I wonder how I can simultaneously be a lazy procrastinator and accomplish as much as I do.

I found this article, which had an excerpt that I could really relate to:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/11387292/Why-being-lazy-and-procrastinating-could-make-you-wildly-successful.html

If you wait until the last minute to complete a task, you are forced to focus on the project at hand. According to Quora poster Caroline Sin: “There’s nothing like not having enough time to complete a project to make you realize what’s critical, and what isn’t.”

When it comes to personally motivating, I have found that I do best when under the gun. Nothing makes me work efficiently and focus like having a looming deadline in the next 24 hours. I know I could cause myself a lot less anxiety and self-loathing if I did what was recommended, and spread the assignment over a few days. But a paper due in 8 days just doesn’t seem that urgent to me… I have all week! Why would I read the night before my philosophy class when I have an hour in the morning to skim it over breakfast? The work will become a priority when it’s urgent, and it will always get done.

The same goes for completing unenjoyable tasks. Just like everyone else in the world, I am much more likely to do something when I like it. For example, if I am having a bad week at work where it seems there is just nothing for me to do, I will whine about it for extended periods of time. This is frustrating to my family, all members of the working and middle class who raised me with the strict belief that hard work equals success. I personally don’t feel that I should be chained to my desk for 8 hours a day if I can do the work in 5. My grandfather responded to this with, “What do you think everyone in the workplace does all day? We bullshit, acting busy when we already finished our work”. This is a depressing revelation for me as I enter the official workforce in the next year. The idea of being in a cubicle five days a week makes me nauseous. The phrase “nine to five” causes emotional distress.

I’m forced to reflect on my time in France when writing this post. In our society, we are so focused on goals, and success, and money, and achievement. Anything less than joining the workforce with a steady job is somewhat considered lazy, that something is wrong with you for not having that drive and motivation for that type of success. The French spend a significantly smaller amount of time at work than we do as Americans. In that culture, I greatly enjoyed their appreciation of leisure, and really recognized how it affected me when I did have to motivate. I was happy to do my work, as I felt like I was already allowed so much leisure time in my regular life. Everything was slow, without much pressure, so even having to sit down and do my work didn’t feel like such a struggle. I was expected to be a little lazy, maybe sleep in on the weekend, take a long lunch, and wasn’t considered a failure for not being constantly driven.

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“You will teach and you will learn” – Cuba’s Literacy Campaign

“Before 1959 it was the countryside versus the city. The literacy campaign united the country because, for the first time, people from the city understood how hard life was for people before the revolution, that they survived on their own, and that as people they had much in common. This was very important for the new government.”

— Luisa Yara Campos, Cuban literacy museum director

I learned this week that Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Upon further research, I found out that there was huge educational reform in Cuba under Fidel Castro, as well as agrarian and health care reform. Before the Revolution, literacy was 11% for city-dwellers, and 42% for those in the countryside.

I was most interested to learn the reason for such a campaign for literacy in Cuba. Pre-Revolution, there was a great separation of the urban and rural citizens. Volunteers from the city were often ignorant of the poor conditions of rural citizens until their experiences during the literacy campaign. The campaign forced members of different sectors of society to interact with each other, to be relieved of their ignorance of others conditions.

For notorious dictator, Fidel Castro, the goal for the campaign (besides literacy) was to create a collective identity of “unity, [an] attitude of combat, courage, intelligence, and a sense of history”. Everyone in the country joined together for the common good, often displacing themselves to new areas to help in the quest of literacy for all. The effort was labeled a movement of “the people”, and gave citizens a common goal to work towards, increasing solidarity. By 1986, nearly 100% of the Cuban people were considered literate

I think the example of Cuba’s Literacy Campaign shows the great power of literacy sponsorship. Fidel Castro provided the resources and initiative for his country to seek literacy, and they responded with success and a newfound sense of unity. This is a perfect example of how literacy is community building.

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info taken from Wikipedia.com