Things To Act
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Reading, Writing, & Responsibility
So I sat through an entire class which consisted of going over material about how to write a paper, all of which was in a packet we were required to buy for the class. Net result: 50 minutes I won't get back in which I didn't actually learn anything (from the lecture, at least). So I wonder why the professor couldn't just make an announcement that anyone who could read and follow directions was free to skip that class with no adverse effects.

And yet, as a TA, I am baffled at how many students simply can't follow written directions, and at how many times I find myself explaining the same things over and over, when I think they should be obvious based on the syllabus, an email, or some other written communication with the student. And as I planned the first round of review sessions for this semester, I explicitly rejected the notion of sending out a detailed email about course policies and tips (in part because I seem to still be getting such emails back unread from last semester's class). So if I don't communicate in writing, I have a good chance of covering everyone who cares thoroughly with a chance for feedback, yet some will wonder why I didn't just put it all in writing, or why I feel the need to reiterate things they already know. And if I put it all in writing, some students just won't get the message.

I don't know that there's any good solution, except to begin requiring a higher standard throughout the university (or throughout the culture). But further discussion on that line would take me to my opinion of how good a job the university does at teaching basic writing competence, and that would be a far lengthier post...

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