Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Validation is Essential

I just administered the final for my class.

Here is the list of important things I taught my bright-eyed, college freshman:

  • Who Bob Dylan is, and that he sings a song called "Blowin in the Wind."
  • How to mime someone playing the accordion
  • That there is a movie called The King's Speech, and it is a good movie.
  • The style of punctuation in Cormac McCarthy's The Road
  • Donald Draper is beautiful 
  • How to tell an effective ghost story using rhetorical tools
  • Tweeting a thesis statement
  • I cannot spell to save my life. It's so hard having to have a blackboard without spell check
  • Branagh's Henry V's speech should give you goosebumps
  • Much depends on a red wheelbarrow
  • I hate emoticons
  • The OED website is the greatest thing ever
  • Alanis Morissette killed irony

I think my list encapsulates the most essential things any person could learn, but my class mentioned some other things that were not on the list. Here is a smattering of the less-essential things that my students say that they learned:

"I feel that through meetings with you, and the Writing Center, I was able to find a way to include my own voice in an acceptable manner into my formal papers....I liked when we learned about Cormac McCarthy and how he knows the conventional way of writing, but even so, does his own thing. I would like to mirror something like that."

"Once I understood ethos, pathos, and logos, I began to look for each of these in any piece of literature. It was as if I had a strange obsession to ensure they were all there."

"The rhetorical triangle concept has also refined my ability to 'read' and analyze claims in the world around me"

"I learned how to formulate an effective and succinct thesis statement."

"I always thought that because this person was published, then the author is completely credible and they don't have any fallacies in their writing; however, after being in this class for a whole semester, my perspective on what authors write has changed. Writers are merely people who are trying to convince others....I now understand that no matter who is making the argument, I always have to read critically and decide whether the author is credible or not for myself."

"I found that...the words that we use in our writing do not necessarily have to be the largest of with the most syllables. The way that I use my words all depends on the audience."

"This has been one of the most enlightening classes I have ever taken. I found that people are tied in with everyone else, and that if proper tools are used, then there is not telling what good, or evil, can surpass after persuading an audience. I certainly am no Mark Antony, or Teddy Roosevelt but I know what they did to make them who they are."

"I would simply write what I felt my strongest points are, and would often completely neglect pathos, which is something that I am now able to see as a big mistake."

"I still love to write poems and other types of fun literature. I think that this class has actually increased how well that I can write these stories now."

"In this class I have learned that rhetoric is a wonderful ally."

"I learned how to do find proper sources and how to read and analyze information." 

After all of the long hours of grading, planning lessons, student emails, conferencing and teaching lessons, I feel that it was worth it.


  1. i wish i was in your class! i am sure i would feel the same way :)

  2. I am sure that you are an excellent teacher. Especially if you talked about The Road in your class.

  3. That's awesome Hillary, sounds like you're a great teacher. This post, and the students' comments, makes me wish I could take your class.

  4. I wish I could've taken your class!

  5. My students hated me. I should come watch you and copy you :) You are awesome.