Sunday, April 1, 2007
Letters from Students
So far, we have read two letters from students to teachers. On was presented last week as a persuasive letter to change a grade which had yet to be determined, and the other is described by David Bartholomae in "The Tidy House: Basic Writing in the American Curriculum" (LE-172). To me, they both represent a culture gap between the home and academic identities. This idea has been described in previous chapters. There is a definite difficulty in adjusting to college life. I've blogged about my views on the differences of college and home life before, so I won't go in to much detail. But, these two letters just show how difficult it is to adjust to being outside of the comfort (home) zone. One letter represents those who are actually trying to understand how this whole "academic thing" works, while the other represents a rejection of the entire academic system. Mina Shaughnessy hints that students reject writing because so many errors are pointed out to them. Errors are the same as failure, so they believe they are failures as writers and should stop doing something at which they consistently fail (7). Though the two letters are radically different, I wonder if both problems could be solved (or, at least lessened) by having a class which focuses on the differences in expectations and demeanor between home and academic life. Now, we all took the IDS 150 course, which showed us where the library was and how we should go see our football games. But, I like the idea that someone brought up in class about their instructor telling the students that they are now "scholars." It is okay to say an opinion as long as it is backed-up by texts and evidence. This would no doubt boost the confidence of students to nearly narcissistic (yes, misspelled) levels! I mean, the students are in an alien atmosphere, and it is difficult to understand that they have to think differently, now. They can't keep one foot at home and one foot in academia, their habits have to shift altogether. Some, as is evident in the letter we read in class last week, have trouble with the fact that they will have to learn things which will challenge their beliefs and values. Of course, at home, everyone you meet agrees with you, so it comes as quite a shock when people in academia present a differing view. In academics, this leads to academic discourse, where "academic discourse" could lead to a bar fight at home. But, that's life.