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Soggy Biscuits

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BLOG 1 [Jan. 28th, 2010|12:44 pm]
Soggy Biscuits
First off, welcome to Professor Molinari and my fellow students from City College's  English 1A - College Reading and Composition course. So far I am loving the class, and was very glad to find an E1A I could fit into my schedule. So thanks Prof. Molinari for that.

As to who I am and as a word of introduction and forewarning: this Diary contains graphic, unwieldy, awkward and possibly deeply offensive content. I have made a middling attempt to lock the most provocative material down, but honestly can't be bothered to put allot of effort into it.
If you find things here you feel are off-putting or obscene, you are all heartily welcomed to keep it to yourself.


As to the assignment at hand
BLOG 1
I was assigned the Mann report to the Massachusetts BOE, 1848, as the reading, and none of the blog options require that text.
I opted to read the Rodriguez text as a supplement for this assignment, partially due to the fact tat I didn't really go to high school, and what little I recall of it is heavily blurred by the intervening years since I left.


The Question was:
What are your personal motives for academic success? How do they compare with those of Richard Rodriguez?

Answer Follows.
Clickee the Linkee!

This questions is requiring a bit more effort to answer than I had at first assumed it would.
My goal in my childhood was to be as smart as I could be, and if at all possible to be the smartest person in the world. Or at least the room. As I grew up I came to the obvious realization that this wasn't going to happen. Then leaving home at such and early age and having no formal education, I have had to suffice with native intelligence and the scraps I picked up on my own from what ever my lazy brain decided was the most appealing.

I, as a child never had any desire for academic success, just a desire to shine in some way that was specific to me. Comprehension was a skill I was born with, and I was aided tremendously by critical thinking classes in early elementary school education. Mr. Rodriguez, on the other hand, had an approach and set of motivations that was almost antithetical to mine.

He was driven to succeed in in school by the sensation of change. He needed to succeed for the sake of success and the ways in which it separated him from his childhood, his family and who he was before the process began. He was driven to metamorphisize into some imaginary creature of scholarly weight and value, that he never fully became.

As to myself current motivations, I have spun, more or less in place, in different stations of life for a number of years. My forward momentum has been incremental, but I always felt the college was for people starting out in life and that it was generally a bit late to be getting on with it. I wanted to return to formal education as an adult at some point, but the hoops and hurdles I would have to maneuver through made it seem unnecessarily daunting.

I was finally prompted to make the plunge when the economy began to collapse. It dawned on me that If I wanted to radically alter the direction of my career, or at least provide myself with some tertiary skillset that I might live on if all else failed, that I could feasibly go to school full time, and live off of student loans for the interim of the collapse. When it had ended I would emerge with a newly minted degree into a cultural once again int he mood to hire.

Now this plan was inherently flawed, but it was a decent starting point, and motivated me enough to begin the process. Now, without the loans, and with only a vague plan as to what I will get out of my education, I am motivated purely by a sense of personal responsibility, and curiosity. I want to learn things I have little inkling of, I want to improve myself as a producer and a performer, I want to stretch my faculties, and I want to embiggen the pride by acquiring new eclectic knowledge to add to the reams of generally useless information I already have.

Quite obviously Mr. Rodriguez's motivations were more powerful more focused and as such he was more driven. I do believe though that my motivations are adequate to secure my own success, and in the places where they may fail me, I have reams of life experience and again, that sense of personal responsibility for my own failings, to fall back on.


And now, with the assignment finished, I'd like to talk a bit about personal life experience, in regards to Rereading America, the text book for the class.
First let me say, I dig the class, and this is not a criticism of the class or the choice to use this text. A book is a book, and I am sure this one is as good as any other for leaning proper essay composition.

 After having read the introductory pieces and a few of the essays in the first chapter, as well as bits and bobs throughout while leafing through, I have to say that I find Re-Reading America to be a little condescending and kind of pedantic. Most of the ideas expressed in it fall into the category of "This goes with out saying". It's tone seems, in places, trite and these common sense concepts are presented as though they were some secret apocrypha known only to the editors.

The essays and articles are smart and interesting in their own rights, but it is the connective tissue, the introductions and general tone of the book that seems to have been constructed with the idea that the majority of students would be a young, fairly ignorant child, fresh out of high school, and filled with deeply rooted stereotypes that guide the majority of his opinions.
And maybe they are. Looking around the classroom though, I saw quite a few more people my own age than that of the younger end of the spectrum.

As an adult, in his mid 30's, who was taught Critical Thinking as a child, both in the school system and at home, the book comes off as a irritatingly presumptuous. That's just me though. The readings so far have all been interesting, and I am sure the text is a valuable one. It does just grate a tiny bit to be talked down to so. Just putting that out there.
Has anyone else felt this way about the text, or am I alone in my opinions. And again I'm referring to the tone of the book and it's premise, not to the essays and excerpt themselves.

Looking forward to your feedback.
A.
linkReply

Comments:
From: (Anonymous)
2010-01-30 06:12 pm (UTC)
Testing blog postings!
(Reply) (Thread)
From: ext_223467
2010-02-01 06:39 am (UTC)

Blog 1

First of al, l I have to say I agree with your assessment of MR. Rodriguez's motivation. He was definitely filled with a burning desire to succeed beyond where anyone in his family even hoped to imagine, but I happen to disagree with your critique of the Re-Reading America text book. I think it is assuming that the students reading it are not as astute, worldly, knowledgeable, or as experienced as thou, therefore most students expected to be reading this book are "young, fairly ignorant, fresh out of school, and filled with deeply rooted stereotypes". Speaking as a person that is a daily recipient of these "deeply rooted stereotypes, I can assure you, not everyone gets it. That said, I am glad you do and just hope you have the patience towards others that don't.
Thanks, Rico.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: frla
2010-02-01 08:27 am (UTC)

Re: Blog 1

I'd have to say that without a doubt a surfiet of patience isn't one of my positive attributes. I have little tolerance for stupid on a personal interactive level.
At least not willful stupidity.

But, I think we are all inundated with other people snap judgments and sterotypes daily, some much more obvious than others, and I think most people insulate themselves against other peoples opinions by separating themselves and surrounding themselves with like mind individuals.

In fact I think having a series of library of impressions is important. These "cultural myths" have a great deal of value, but the idea I find objectionable is the assumption that I am child on the part of the authors.
I make snap judgments constantly, and am constantly editing and updating the criteria by which I make those judgments.
Consciously or not I think most people do the same.

It just reads like an adolescent trying to lecture his grandmother on empathy. Good intended, but insulting none the less.
It doesn't come off as "getting it" or not to me, so much as it comes off as basic life experience points and not being particularly dense. But maybe that's my density. I refuse to believe most people are that slow.


Only a child, fresh out of the womb of his teens and early 20's would still be so assured in the infallibility of his opinion as to hinder his education by clinging to his stereotypes.

Most adults have made asses of themselves with broad false assumptions enough time to be at least aware that it can happen.

For me,and I think I said this already, My stereotypes are either so deeply ingrained I am in complete denial of them or ones tat I have made a conscious choice to hold onto. I value them dearly and they are in constant flux. I think to be a rational functional human being you have to be aware of how your mind works, and monitor it as it grows.
I believe most people do this, they learn it in their teens, which is the time this book would be of the most use.

My ire towards it is based int he fact that I am not a child, and that this is not a poli-sci or sociology class.

But my ire is really relatively mild.
Thanks for commenting on my blog.
I look forward to reading your post when it goes up!

A.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: ext_223467
2010-02-01 06:42 am (UTC)

Blog 1

First of al, l I have to say I agree with your assessment of MR. Rodriguez's motivation. He was definitely filled with a burning desire to succeed beyond where anyone in his family even hoped to imagine, but I happen to disagree with your critique of the Re-Reading America text book. I think it is assuming that the students reading it are not as astute, worldly, knowledgeable, or as experienced as thou, therefore most students expected to be reading this book are "young, fairly ignorant, fresh out of school, and filled with deeply rooted stereotypes". Speaking as a person that is a daily recipient of these "deeply rooted stereotypes". I can assure you, not everyone gets it. That said, I am glad you do and just hope you have the patience towards others that don't.
Thanks, Rico.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: ext_223883
2010-02-04 07:20 pm (UTC)
As a fellow reentry student, I can relate to the years of spinning. It's amazing to me how many of us wind up in similar situations of either not pursuing a higher education or wandering aimlessly through the halls of academia with few goals. I wonder if Rodriguez knew where his study would take him or if he was simply escaping his past with constant study. Offering some encouragement, your goals to "stretch your faculties" and improve your performance/producing skills are more than enough to keep you on track. Goals can be adjusted as needed, the important part of your story is that you've started down the road.
It seems we may all be driven by that need to change - or to be changed by the experience.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-11 09:05 pm (UTC)

(do not count as comment)

Thanks for sharing your personal experience and critique on the book. I haven't read the intro essays myself, but I think I know how you mean. Your observation that the book is geared toward the recent high school grad is right on. You, Rico and myself are not fresh out of high-school, of course... I don't know about others, but I sometimes find myself sitting in class feeling envy or sometimes contempt for our younger counterparts. However, this is purely projection on my part, so I think.

As I stated in another comment, certain things, like intuition are not learned in the classroom, but from life experience. I am 29, by the way. Thanks again for your thoughtful post.

peace,

Teri
(Reply) (Thread)
From: ext_224715
2010-02-11 09:10 pm (UTC)

teri's blog link...

also I forgot to mention, I found many parallels in our academic experiences, it is nice to relate!
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2011-01-18 12:07 pm (UTC)

provides access

Interesting…and I agree with all of it. Keep up the excellent work…I will undoubtedly be back soon
(Reply) (Thread)