To whomever it may concern,
Looking back on my experiences in this University Writing 1103 class over the past semester I notice many changes in my writing. Over the semester I started to feel more comfortable in my writing and got to a point where I left my previous notions behind for a grander writing style. Originally I was nervous about a class dedicated to writing, generally what I consider my worst subject; however, after the first few weeks I changed that thought completely. Partaking in an inquiry project, developing a blog and reflecting were all experiences I had not had before this class. These experiences drove me towards my current feeling towards writing of greater understanding and more appreciation for the craft. I’m honestly glad I didn’t take this class as a freshman, I think it would have overwhelmed me with the radical changes to writing expected in college. As a Junior I have a lot more experience with what is expected of an undergraduate and thus I felt confident that I could succeed in an environment normally detrimental to a math geek like myself.Half a semester ago I wrote a mid term reflection discussing how I felt about my progress as a writer. At the time I didn’t feel like anything had changed but since then, having developed a web text contribution and given my facilitation, I feel confident that I have improved.
In the beginning of the semester we spent a lot of time talking about preconceived notions involving “proper” writing styles such as the 5-paragraph essay. I unfortunately didn’t have much experience with such a style which should have been a good thing, but it made it hard for me to connect to what the others thought. I struggled to force myself into that mindset, just to understand how wrong it was. It felt like I was being taught to swim by forcefully drowning in a pool of honey and being told “you can’t swim in honey” instead of being put in a pool of water and taught normally. It took me several weeks to understand that I was expected to know the 5-paragraph essay and then know everything wrong about it. After coming to terms with the expectations of my knowledge from the class I finally was able to stand at the starting line. It wasn’t until I read Dean’s Genre Theory that things finally clicked for me. Everything else from the class fell into place and I started to see the bigger picture. I went from focusing on what to write to focusing on how to write. Shifting my thoughts from what to how let me see where context, genre and textual media belonged in writings. This shift greatly improved the quality of my writings and I think was exhibited in my web text contribution rather well.
In regards to my web text contribution, it was the first time I had every been tasked with an inquiry assignment. For me the idea of developing a contribution to a topic that had such deep roots was ludicrous. In math the opportunity to add to previous knowledge is only given to the highest authorities such as professors and professional mathematicians. It was hard for me to realize that I could give meaningful input in the ongoing debate over internet anonymity. Working with Tori and Taylor was a great help as they both seemed comfortable with the idea that inquiry was something that we could actually accomplish. With the help of them I believe we created a fantastic web text contribution considering how little experience we had with the concept. The inquiry project also made me realize how diverse writing can be. The fact that we could contribute via web text allowed me to see a different way that I can impact my discourse communities in the future.
Regretfully I don’t think I can apply much of what I learned from this semester to my other writings. Strict rules are a must in math, my major, so being fancy free doesn’t cut it. I do think that understanding the concepts of genre and textual media will be the two main things I can carry on to other writings. I intend to approach all my writing from now on with the mindset that I don’t have to follow some drab outline, instead I should focus on maintaining the expectations of my discourse community while adding the elements of this class where possible.
One could say I started this semester with a negative outlook on writing. After being a part of this discourse community for the last few months I have grown to appreciate writing and don’t have such a negative opinion of it. I now have a much broader understanding of what writing is and what it can do. Leaving this class makes me sad that I can’t continue to develop myself as a writer alongside my classmates however I know that going forward we will all continue to improve ourselves and our communities by expressing what we learned in this University Writing 1103 class.