Reflection Introduction

Linda C. Mejia
Eileen Thompson
WR 121
December 5, 2012

Reflective Introduction

Diving into the writing world has been quite interesting, intimidating and challenging for me. I haven’t had a writing class in over fifteen years and writing has definitely changed since I was in High School. We didn’t learn to write MLA style or to use vast amounts of citing styles as we do today. Things have definitely changed since then. I use to think that I was a good writer, but throughout my coursework in WR 121, I realized how raw I really was. I had to really focus on improving my ways of writing.
Throughout this course, I learned to sharpen my critical analytical skills, by reading with the grain and against the grain. I learned to continuously ask “why” on many different levels. I challenged myself to dig deeper into a text to develop a better understanding of the author’s intended purpose and audience. I also learned to identify different writing styles and to make connections that weave texts together; this helped me develop a deeper understanding of the essays. I had to develop strategies in order to help me understand and to be able to follow some of the complicated essays that were assigned from the Ways of Reading textbook.
In addition, there were times; I would get frustrated and lost in some of the readings. But, I learned to read with a pencil and to make side notes, which has taken my writing to a new level because now, I am able to connect back with my initial insights marked on the page. I am also able to see connections and flow of where the author is going with their story. I have learned to form my own critical analysis by way of abstraction. Moving past this way has greatly opened my mind. My thoughts are now able to be more complex because I have learned how to sustain a logical argument into an organized argument.
Another improvement is my ability to point out multiple complexities within a text, instead of sticking to one-sided arguments on my papers. In addition, I learned that we as the audience check for the author’s credibility and I never really thought of that before. I also learned that authors have a specific genre when they write. There is usually a specific audience and purpose the author’s aims to target. I learned to read rhetorically and to write that way as well. It amazes me how certain ways of writing allows you to move in ways that you never imagined. It is truly an art to know the strategies of writing.
Additionally, we had exposure of peer reviews and I didn’t realize how much insights you really get form other peers. Sometimes, you get so involved with a certain topic that you forget that you have to be clear about what you are writing to other preaders. It gives you the ability to self-reflect and to polish your work with new eyes. I also had practice with post writing which made my writing improve. I learned how to find creditable resources using the Lane Community College Library website to search for resources. It has definitely widened the scope of my research, which has led me to produce better papers.. My writing is so much more interesting than it used to be.
To demonstrate, I have compiled a working folder on an e-portfolio using WordPress.com to track my collection of artifacts and reflective work. By gathering all of my drafts, instructor’s comments, peer reviews and responses, together with my best works and supplied as evidence of my growth. To be specific, I have included my first rough draft writings from the Rodriguez’s and Miller’s Ways of Readings essays as well as my final drafts. It clearly exhibits where I started from and how I have grown as a writer. This is just a stepping stone for me. I will continue to work on my reading and writing skills so that I may become a more effect communicator.

Revised Rodriguez (Final Draft)

Linda C. Mejia
Eileen Thompson
WR 121
December 5, 2012

Final Rodriguez- Engagement Essay

In “The Achievement of Desire” by Richard Rodriguez, he refers to Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy book to describe his own experience as a student. It wasn’t until he came across Hoggart’s, book that he realizes what type of “scholarship boy” he was. Rodriguez uses lengthy quotes from Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy to describe the similarities between Hoggart’s “scholarship boy” and himself. Rodriquez says that his essay is one that many can relate to. He adds, if because of my schooling, I had grown culturally separated from my parents; my education finally had given me ways of speaking and caring about that fact. He says his best teachers in college and graduate school, years before had tried to prepare him for this conclusion.

Like when his teachers would discuss texts of aristocratic pastoral literature, He would faithfully memorize it. “The praise of the unlettered by the highly educated is the one primary themes of the ‘elitist’ literature, but the importance of the praise given the unsolitary, richly passionate and spontaneous life is that it simultaneously reflects the value of the reflective life.” (p.532). Rodriguez says, “it would require many more years of schooling (an inevitable miseducation) in which I came to trust the silence of reading and the habits of abstracting from immediate experience—moving away from a life of closeness and immediacy I remember with my parents, growing older—before I turned to desire the past, and thereby achieved what has eluded me for so long—the end of education.

Rodriguez starts his essay by introducing his visit to a ghetto classroom as “the guest speaker”. Rodriguez mentions how most of the teenagers were unengaged, except for a young teenager that seem intrigued, eager to learn like he was. He starts reflecting upon himself. He references when he was a little boy, little boy starting Catholic school in first grade, barely able to speak English. This refers to the beginning of his struggles in grade school. He also mentions his successes and what made it possible. He mentions that when people would congratulate him and they would say, “Your parents must be very proud”. (p 515), he would not credit his parents; instead he would give credit to his earliest teachers, the nuns (his educators). This comment made by his teachers was ironic to him, in that he didn’t feel he could give credit to either of his parents. They were uneducated, barely able to speak English, all help had ceased in second grade for him.

He further says, “As important as these factors were however they account inadequately for my academic advance, nor do they suggest what an odd success I managed, for although, I was a very good student, I was also a very bad student. I was a scholarship boy and the troubled son. He was always being unconfident, anxious and too eager to learn; an imitative and unoriginal pupil. Rodriquez says he lacked a point of view, rather he read to acquire a point of view. He relied on his teachers, depended on all that he heard in the classroom and read his books; he became in every obvious way the worst student, a dummy mouthing the opinions of others. But he would not be so bad nor would he become so successful, scholarship boy—if he did not accurately perceive that the best synonym for primary “education” is “imitation”. (p.529).

He seems to be disappointed with himself. He outgrew his family; he soon became too smart for his parents. There was a separation between his family and his education. He didn’t seem to quite fit anywhere. He felt alone, he tried so hard to fit in, but he didn’t quite at home or at school. He referred to himself as a good student, but too much a good student, so eager to learn that he soon became an outcast.

Nevertheless, I think he understood at the very end, now as an adult and seeing his aged parents, he realized that he really did miss his family. Throughout his educational journey, he realized he lost a lot but at the same token, he also feels he gained a lot. Rodriguez says “according to Hoggart, the “Scholarship Boy” grows nostalgic because he remains the uncertain scholar, bright enough to have moved from his past, yet unable to feel easy, a part of a community of academics” (p 530). Rodriguez talks about other scholars and about forming a union, though one in which they remained distant from one another. He also realized his special interests and skills united him to a mere handful of Academics. They formed an exclusive, eccentric society, separated from others who never care or be able to share concerns. (The pages I turned were stiff like layers of dead skin)”. (p.531).This is about the time nostalgia begins for Rodriguez.

He then says, “What I am about to say has taken me more than twenty years to admit. A primary reason for my success in the classroom was that I couldn’t forget schooling was changing me and separating me from the life I enjoyed, before becoming a student.” (p. 516). He kept these thoughts to himself, never spoken to another person. Rodriguez also says he knew from an early age he could not speak about such things in his classroom. All his thoughts were hidden beneath layers of embarrassments. (p.516) He makes this realization one day in a British Museum. He later quotes, “If because of my schooling I had grown culturally separated from my parents, my education finally given me “ways of speaking and caring” about that fact (p 532).

It was not until after reading modern educational theorist, only to find infrequent and slight mention of students like him. He finds one very specify book by Richard Haggart, The Uses of Literacy that he can closely relate to called “The Scholarship Boy”. Rodriquez says, “It was the first time I realized there were other students like me, and so I was also able to frame the meaning of my academic success its consequence price—the loss”. The sentence to me indicates that he now understands that there are always sacrifices you must endure to accomplish something in life, yet there will always be the void, “the loss”. He also refers to himself as brooding and sensitive. To me this indicates that this fact, the loss and gain of education was necessary, if he was to become an academic success.

But at the same time it tore him apart. He was stuck in between two conflicting issues. But he also states, “If, because of my schooling, I had grown culturally separated from my parents, my education finally had given me ways of speaking and caring about that fact (p.532). Rodriguez quotes: “Hoggart’s account is more accurate than fair.” Rodriquez is referring the scholarship boy being a very bad student. He is a great mimic, a collector of thoughts, not a thinker without an opinion of his own. He is enormously obedient to the dictate of the world of school, but emotionally still strongly wants to continue as part of the family circle. Gradually, necessarily the balance is lost. (p. 518).

Rodriguez says Hoggarts statement is accurate, but so unfair in life. My interpretation is that Rodriquez had to choose the best life for himself, but at the same time the life he left behind was also one he wished he didn’t have to leave behind.

Furthermore, I believe Rodriguez is angered by the fact that he had to choose, between family and education, but a necessary element if he wants to be an “educated man”. Therefore, he lost the human closeness, qualities of passion and spontaneity that the rest of us experience in early childhood life. He chose to disconnect with his parents, for they do not know anything about education. He has lost respect for his parents. He has instead given the authority, the privileges’ to his teachers. This is the price, if he wants to be an “educated man” he needs to forget nostalgia for his life–he lost, instead he concentrates on the benefits of education. (P. 529)

Rodriguez says that education requires radical self-reformation. The classroom remade him; his whole primary education was an imitation. He also had to learn intellectual independence. Rodriguez also says they change most students barely at all. The much larger lesson is education is a long unglamorous, even demeaning process a nurturing, never a natural to the person one was before one entered the classroom. “Scholarship Boy” is also the archetypical “a good student”. They too must re-form themselves to memory. They must develop skills of memory long before they become critical thinkers. His ambitious are theirs, it would require years of schooling, as inevitable miseducation, in which I came to trust the silence of reading and the habit of abstracting from immediate experience. The ability to consider experience so abstractly allowed me to shape into desire what would otherwise have remained indefinite. It reflects the value of reflective life. My need to think so abstractly about my parents and our relationship was in itself an indication of my long education. His education finally had given him ways of speaking and caring about that fact. (P.530)

My interpretation of Rodriquez’s story is that he has learned valuable lessons in life. Although a long and lonely journey for Rodriguez, life and actual experience has taught him that he needs to be himself, to have his own thoughts and desires, not just those of others. But at the same time, he also seems to be satisfied with what he has lost and happy with what he has gained in return. Rodriguez refers to his education to giving him ways of speaking about that fact. I also think he has learned to understand himself; to understand what was missing from his life. He has finally learned to balance his life. Not just in education, but in the loneliness and absence of real family. He also realizes that it has taken him almost his whole life to understand this concept. This is the main message he wants to share from his essay.

In conclusion, I think Rodriquez feels he can closely relate to Mr. Hoggart’s, The Uses of Literacy story, because he is actually one of those “scholarship boys”. However, he also feels he has a more intimate understanding and real insight from his own actual personal experience. He seems to want to share his personal attributes with his audience. In addition, Rodriquez is thankful for the education he has gained. It has finally given him ways to come to terms with his gains and losses and to understand that his loses were also his gains. It has also given him the ability to articulate his feeling and to be able to think critically. He has also gained first-hand experience and his own perspective on what it really means to be a “Scholarship Boy”. In addition to this, he has also been able to share his knowledge and experience to others that might be going through similar situations. I think having his education and knowledge has given him ways to share his story and to share the wisdom he has gained through education.

Works cited:
Rodriguez, Richard, “The Achievement of Desire” Ways of Reading An anthology for Writer Ninth Edition. Bartholomae, David and Anthony Petrosky. New York:Bedford St. Martins, 2008. 515-532. (Nov. 12, 2010).

Pratt-Rough Draft (2)

Linda C. Mejia
November 5, 2012
WR 121-Pratt

Pratt Rough Draft (2nd)

I think that I can extend Pratt’s essay by writing my own autoethnography of what it means to be the “other”, as Pratt refers to as “The Contact Zone”. I would like to share a prime example of feeling like the “other”. As I read Pratt’s essay on “Arts of Literacy of the Contact Zone”, I could relate to the “Contact Zone” in my own life. In Pratt’s essay when she writes about Guaman Poma and the Spaniards, I felt this strong connection. I completely understood what Guaman Poma was going through when he was trying to communicate to the Spaniards. I also have been on the “other” side. This is what Pratt would refer to as “A Contact Zone”, a place where different people make contact in their own terms. Pratt also calls contact zones – areas which allow the intermingling of two or more cultures. There is also this assumption that there is a fraternity amongst all people.

One example of this “Contact Zone” is of a Mexican-American trying to fit in a world most Anglo-American would call Utopian. But it is a very different world to me. It’s a place where you have to join the same club, so you can be included, to be a member of the same society—to be an American. And even if, you do join the club, you somehow still are left outside the club. You don’t ever truly become a member, if you were ever from a different club.

For instance, this country in my point of view has very specific point-of-views, very narrow-minded thinking. They are very different from the views that were instilled in me as a child. When I was a small child, my father, use to talk to me about our Mexican-American history. The stories my father use to tell were always very interesting. But, when I started school in the United States, I had a whole different version of American history. It was so confusing to me. Sometimes, I struggled to understand how American-History was made. It always sounded biased to me as compared to the version that my father would explain it to me. I always use to yearn to hear the real stories, histories, struggles and triumphs of people of color on their own terms, not just Euro-Centric biases. This to me is what Pratt refers to as “Imagined Communities”; the imagined communities that embrace every culture equally. This is not a reality, just imagined.

In addition to this, I remember feeling so confused because I had read articles such as “Teaching Young Children to Resist Bias”, and it would specifically encourage the teaching of empathetic awareness of cultural differences and similarities, so to overcome any inappropriate responses triggered by cultural differences, to feel comfortable with our physical characteristics linked to racial identity, to develop nonbiased responses to racial differences, to feel positive, but not superior, about our racial identity, and to take pride in our cultural identity. Therefore, I didn’t understand why History was always being taught in this Euro-centric way.

Furthermore, throughout my whole history education, we only seem to learn about the Holocaust, Hitler, American Revolutionary War, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Native American History, but we were never taught the Mexican–American history. Maybe it’s because Americans are so uncomfortable with the subject. I use to think it was racist that schools were making ethnic cultural minorities feel like their culture were not important to our nation’s history or worth even being discussed in school. I think that I would have been more engaged; a better student and that I would have had higher achievement, if only, I could have felt a sense of pride that develops through accomplishments of my own Mexican-American history.

There are so many different levels of cultures. Pratt also realizes that her young son is also forming his own culture through his baseball cards. Pratt says “Sam learned the baseball culture. He learned about aesthetic judgment, about exchange fairness, trust, the importance of processes as opposed to results, what it means to get cheated, taken advantage of, and even robbed. He learned of history of American racism and the struggle against it. He gained all this knowledge from the simple hobby of baseball cards. Baseball cards were the beginning of his understanding and development of literacy. This baseball club (hobby) is also like a culture of its own, where only members understand one another. As I mentioned earlier, you have to belong in the culture you are trying to join.

Pratt refers to the contact zones as the imaginary spaces where differences and inequalities exist. She also refers to social spaces as a place where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today” She talks about how sometimes contact zones can be a positive thing or a negative thing. I believe the positive aspect of multiculturalism is the joining of differences. It can provide interests, ideas other perspectives, but the negative aspect of it, is that it can also make people feel uncomfortable.

Pratt also argues that the contact zone is a good way to understand one another. Pratt explains how Guaman Poma took over the official Spanish genre for his own ends. Pratt also mentions an essay by Benedict Anderson, where he purposes three features that characterize the style in which the modern nation is imagined. First, it is imagined as limited by finite, if elastic, boundaries second, it is imagined by sovereign and third fraternal. Anderson argues that European bourgeoisies were distinguished by their ability to achieve solidarity on an essentially imagined basis; it was the first printed invisible network that would eventually constitute the literate elites and those they ruled as nations. Despite whatever conflicts or systematic social differences it is assumed that all participants are engaged. Many of those who govern us display, openly, theory interest in a quiescent, ignorant, manipulative electorate. She also speaks about a debate over a narrowly defined Western culture requirement that had been instituted in 1980. She refers to it as boiling down over ideas of national patrimony cultural citizenship and imagined community. Pratt says at the end, it was defined as Cultures, Ideas, and Values. “It did attract a diverse student body. And the classroom functioned like a “contact zone” not an alliance or homogeneous community”.

Additionally, the task of the lecturer was unifying the world in the class’s eyes by means of monologue that rings equality coherent, revealing and truth for all. But the very nature of the course put the ideas and identities on the line. All the students in the class had the experience of hearing their culture discussed and objectified in ways that horrified them’ all of the students saw their roots traced back to legacies of both glory and shame. Along with rage incomprehension and pain there was mutual understanding and new wisdoms—the joys of the contact zone (p. 497). Pratt says, “the fact that no one was safe made all of us involved in the course appreciate, the importance of what we came to call “safe houses”. She used the term to refer to social and intellectual spaces where groups can constitute as horizontal, homogeneous, sovereign communities with high degrees of trust, shared knowledge, and temporary protection from legacies of oppression. Also was also a way to figure out a way to make the crossroads the best for learning. She also says, “For pedagogical arts of the contact zone, these will include exercises in storytelling and in identifying with the idea, interest, histories, and attitudes of others. Experiments of transculturation and collaborative work and in the arts of critique, parody and comparison between the elite and vernacular cultural forms. The redemption of the oral; ways for people to engage with suppressed aspects of history (including their own histories) ground rules for communication across lines of difference and hierarchy maintain mutual respect and cultural medication.” (p.497)

Finally, it is my belief still to this day that I am still fighting to be myself. I am not just Mexican, I am American and above all I am human. I appreciate every culture and it would be so nice, if every single person could appreciate all the wonderful cultures that we have been blessed with. It would be so nice, if history was taught from every aspect. I have noticed that in some schools, Mexican-American ethnic studies are being taught, and that is refreshing to hear, it makes for a nice “contact zone”. However, many of those ethnic classes are being banned due to Anglo-American’s fear that Mexican-Americans are working to over-throw the government, which is of course ludicrous. Therefore, for now, I know I still have to fight to keep my identity and my roots. I don’t want any negative influences trying to change who I am. I don’t want to be labeled. It would be nice, if people would stop labeling people into categories and just accept them for who they are rather than for what race they are. I think every culture has what Pratt refers to as “Contact Zones” and “Imagined Communities”.
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Miller Rough Draft (Argumentative Essay)

WR 121 Miller Rough Draft (Argumentative Essay) #4

Linda C. Mejia
Eileen Thompson
WR 121
November 19, 2012

Miller’s Rough Draft Argumentative Essay, Question #4
In Miller’s passage about Krakauer’s Into the wild, he seems to suggest that what we read, and how we read, can say something about who we are and what we might become. This is a very bold claim.”(447). Miller seems to think that we are what we read. An interpretation of this is Miller, says, “Krakauer was able to get inside of McCandless head and speculate with considerable authority about what ultimately led the young man to abandon the comforts of home and purposely seek out mortal danger”, simply because he had access to McCandless’s books, his underlining and marginalia, as well as journals and the postcards and letters McCandless sent to his friends during his journey.
The Dark Night of the Soul for literacy workers comes without the realization that training students to read, write, and talk in more critical and self-reflective ways cannot protect them for the violent changes our culture is undergoing. (P .423)
For example, McCandless was ultimately undone by the great trust he placed in the written word, McCandless’s way of reading Jack London’s, Call of the Wild, which were stories about life in Alaska. “He was so enthralled by these tales…that he seemed to forget they were works of fiction, constructions of the imaginations that had more to do with London’s romantic sensibilities than with the actualities of life in the subarctic wilderness”. McCandles also relied so heavily in a book called “Tanaima Plantlore” to guide him through the gathering in the wild. In which would result to his death. He relied so heavily in the information given in the book that he assumed that because there was no mention of seeds being poisonous in the book, he therefore thought they were edible and consumed them which later resulted to his demise.
I personally somewhat disagree with his analyses. I believe human beings are able to read whatever book they choose and abstract whatever message they want from it. However, I also think that you choose books to compliment or to cope with whatever feeling you are currently experiencing, you also tend to read books according to your current mood. For instance, when you experience a loss, you usually tend to get books that help you cope through your ordeal and with your sadness. You also read books that are required in certain subjects, e.g. school, work etc.
However, in part I do think that there are some vulnerable individuals that are very gullible. For instance, people living with some type of trauma in their life. I also think that for the mentally ill or unstable minds, certain books can trigger negative effects in them. And I suppose that sometimes, certain thoughts can be implanted in the brain. I also believe that if you constantly read a certain type of material that eventually you start to believe and modify your life to a certain degree. I also think sometimes being informed about certain things that we weren’t aware of before, can trigger certain behaviors and thoughts that were not in us. In fact they get implant in our belief system. Therefore, I guess there are certain books, movies, music that can influence or change our behaviors or state-of-mind to a certain degree.

Like McCandless he wanted to believe in the words London invented, because he wanted to be enchanted, he failed to ask the question that Krakauer believed must be of concern to all readers namely, what is the relationship between what the author says and the way the author lives? McCandless was killed off by reading practice that placed too much faith in books, a practice that forgets that the world in all its infinite complexity and particularity will always exceed the explanatory grasp of any single text and, indeed of all texts taken in their totality. (p.430)
Miller says that there are interesting ways to think about reading and writing in today’s society. Miller uses the stories of traumatic events such as the Columbine High School massacre and other horrific events to question our current educational system. He seems to argue that there is power in literature. In today’s day and age, Miller argues that our children are becoming more violent because of technological advances. Children play out violent fantasies and they don’t seem to understand its limits. As Miller states, “together have blurred the line between fact and fiction.” (pg. 422)
Miller also says that reading and writing are also somewhat dangerous. He refers of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Miller also says that Chris McCandless dissolved his trust fund, sold all of his stuff, burned what money he had left, and started out on a cross-country adventure that ended with him dying of starvation in the Alaskan wilderness. Miller comes closer to explaining McCandless’s dangerous relationship to books about adventure and self-reliance. Miller also talks about, philosophers and people before coming to his final conclusion that the world needs to change and one change that he would favor most would be for the next generation of humans to be exceptionally critical readers, writers, thinkers, and activists; as quoted on page 442.
An example of a change in me after a movie which seems to influence in me in some way was a television series called, “Touched by an Angel”. It captured me, so to speak. Their shows influence a different attitude in me. I was always a quiet, overall nice person, but these shows made me believe that I had to do more. I started feeling that I needed do a lot more than just be plain nice. I needed to go out of my way to be nice. It also made me open my mind to receive hidden messages, messages from God, and messages from people. I suppose I became more perceptive.
Furthermore, it made me trust that things always happen for a reason. It made me blindly trust. However, I don’t know, if this would be considered dangerous. I suppose it does to a certain degree. But these shows gave me hope. As a result of these shows, it made me want to know God more. I started to read the Bible more and watch other religious shows, more often. I always felt, sadness, ease and contentment after these shows. I also found some peace in my life. I think that I gravitated to these types of shows because I was feeling a bit lost. I think everybody goes through hard times and stages in their life that requires self-reflection during certain traumatic events.
The episode that really captured me from “Touch by an Angel, was one episode called “The Finale”, it was the last, Touch by an Angel episode, whereas Monica, an angel, earns her wings. In this particular episode, there was a character by the name of Zac. Zac came to a small town that was slowly losing their community and closeness. But, little by little Zac started bringing the town together again. The reason that the town was torn apart was due to the fact that there was an explosion a few years earlier. There was a bomb that exploded and all of the children in the small town got killed. It left the whole town feeling angry and lost.
Well one day, this new comer by the name of Zac came into town wanting to change the whole town around. He started to rebuild the small church that got shut down by the community. The people started to lose faith in God. Zac started fixing up all the old children’s toys and putting them in the rebuilt church that he was fixing up. The people didn’t understand why this newcomer was doing so much for their community. They started getting very suspicious. The people in the small town thought he was caring too much about the town; they started thinking that he was the bomber that killed all the children in the town. There was so much hate towards this man. Well one day, he had a conversation with a young mentally challenged man. This mentally challenged man admitted that he was the one at fault, for the burning of the school. The challenged man was trying to save a kitten; he didn’t realize that he had burnt down the school. When he revealed this to Zac, Zac protected him, he didn’t tell anyone. But the town was getting more and more suspicious of him. Well to make a long story short. The town had so much hate and wanted to blame somebody they ended up arresting Zac. But, Zac would not tell the mentally challenged man’s secret. He knew that if he did he would be arrested and put away forever. Instead he stayed quiet and took the blame.
Well Monica, the angel, believed in Zac. She went to the jail where Zac was being detained and revealed to him that she was an angel. She told him that God knew where Zac was when those children died. She told him that the days ahead would be very hard, but if he asked God to send an angel to protect him, every day, every moment, every second that he would. She also told him, that if he allowed her she would ask God to allow her to be his angel for the rest of his life to protect him.
As the days passed, they realized that he was not guilty. That he did not kill the children. But, when Monica went to the jail to tell him of the good news, he was already gone. She later found out that Zac was not just another man. She saw a shining bright light and there stood Zac, It was God almighty, in the figure of a man, as Zac. Monica started crying and asked for His forgiveness. She asked for forgiveness for not recognizing him. God replied, “If you had known who I was you would have done anything for Me. But look what you did for a stranger? And no greater love hathed no person nor angel, you gave your life for another. Well done, good and faithful servant.” These were the most powerful and inspirational words that I have ever heard. These words from this movie, gave me new hope and a completely different perspective of life. These were events that happened in a fictional TV series, yet, I put trust and faith in these shows and still to this day, I do.
Therefore, I take a closer look at what Miller says about reading and writing. I suppose they are somewhat dangerous. Miller refers to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Miller also says that Chris McCandless dissolved his trust fund, sold all of his stuff, burned what money he had left, and started out on a cross-country adventure that ended with him dying of starvation in the Alaskan wilderness. Miller comes closer to explaining McCandless’s dangerous relationship to books about adventure and self-reliance. Miller also talks about, philosophers and people before coming to his final conclusion that the world needs to change and one change that he would favor most would be for the next generation of humans to be exceptionally critical readers, writers, thinkers, and activists; as quoted on page 442.
There was a traumatic event in my life that made me want to watch these episodes. The trigger was a separation; I was going through with my husband at the time which eventually turned into a bitter divorce. This was a very traumatic time in my life, whereby triggered a closer look into my life and who I was. There’s always the need to feel guilt and blame and we go looking out for sources, for answers, and my source was the Bible and Touch by an Angel, T.V. Series. I guess, I should say luckily it was the bible and not some crazy hateful book. I suppose to a certain degree books do sometimes say who you are and what you are. People seem to find coping systems and books that relate to them in accordance to their current situation and life events.
Finally, in a nutshell, as Miller quotes, “As for “the felt experience of the impersonal”, the course of any given individual life cuts through or around a set of institutions charged with responsibility for nurturing both a sense of self and a sense of connection between self and society. It goes without saying that the relative influence each of these institutions has once any given individual depends on a number of variables. By linking the institutional with the autobiographic, my goal is not to draw attention away from our individual differences, but rather to show that we all internalize institutional influences in ways that are both idiosyncratic and historically situations, open-ended and over-determined, liberating and confining. We all go to school bringing both our minds and our embodied histories: what happens there is both utterly predictable and utterly mysterious, the circumscribed movement of a statistical norm and the free flight of the aberrant data” (p. 442).

Works citied:
Touched by an Angel, The Finale, TV Series (1994-2003).
Miller, Richard E. “The Dark Night of the Soul.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. Eds. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s. 2011: 418-444. Print.

Rodriquez Rough Draft-Engagement Essay

Linda C. Mejia
WR 121
10-13-2012

Rodriguez Engagement Essay

In “The Achievement of Desire” by Richard Rodriquez, Mr. Rodriquez, states that his essay is one that many can relate to. If because of my schooling, I had grown culturally separated from my parents; my education finally had given me ways of speaking and caring about that fact. He says his best teachers in college and graduate school, years before had tried to prepare him for this conclusion. When they discussed texts of aristocratic pastoral literature, He would faithfully memorize it. “The praise of the unlettered by the highly educated is the one primary themes of the ‘elitist’ literature, but the importance of the praise given the unsolitary, richly passionate and spontaneous life is that it simultaneously reflects the value of the reflective life.” (p.532). He says, “it would require many more years of schooling (an inevitable miseducation) in which I came to trust the silence of reading and the habits of abstracting from immediate experience—moving away from a life of closeness and immediacy I remember with my parents, growing older—before I turned to desire the past, and thereby achieved what has eluded me for so long—the end of education.
He starts his essay by talking about being “the guest speaker” in a ghetto classroom. He talked about how most of the teenagers that were unengaged, except for a young teenager that seem intrigued, eager to learn like he was. He starts reflecting upon himself. He references when he was a little boy, little boy starting Catholic school in first grade, barely able to speak English. This refers to the beginning of his struggles thoughout grade school. He also talks about his successes and what made it possible. He mentions that when people would congratulate him and they would say, “Your parents must be very proud”. (p 515), he would give credit to his earliest teachers, the nuns (his educators). He would not give credit to his parents at the time; this comment made by his teachers was ironic to him, in that he didn’t feel he could give credit to either of his parents. They were uneducated, barely able to speak English, all help had ceased in second grade for him. Instead, he actually felt the need to educate them.
He further states, “As important as these factors were, however they account inadequately for my academic advance, nor do they suggest what an odd success I managed, for although, I was a very good student, I was also a very bad student. I was a “scholarship boy” and the “troubled son”. He talks about always being unconfident, and anxious and too eager to learn, an imitative and unoriginal pupil. He seems to be disappointed with himself. He outgrew his family; he soon became too smart for his parents. There was a separation between his family and his education. He didn’t seem to quite fit anywhere. He felt alone, he tried so hard to fit in, but he didn’t quite at home or at school. He referred to himself as a good student, but he was such a good student and so eager to learn that he soon became an outcast. The other children thought he was awkward.
However, I think he understood at the very end, now as an adult and seeing his aged parent that he was wrong in alienated his parents from himself. He also realized he lost a lot and at the same time he also feels he also gained a lot. Mr. Rodriguez, says “according to Hoggart, the “scholarship boy” grows nostalgic because he remains the uncertain scholar, bright enough to have moved from his past, yet unable to feel easy, a part of a community of academics” (p530). He talked about other scholars and about forming a union, though one in which they remained distant from one another. He also realized his special interests and skills united him to a mere handful of Academics. They formed an exclusive, eccentric society, separated from others who never care or be able to share concerns. (The pages I turned were stiff like layers of dead skin)”. (p.531). This is about the time nostalgia begins for Mr. Rodriguez.
He then says, “What I am about to say has taken me more than twenty years to admit. A primary reason for my success in the classroom was that I couldn’t forget schooling was changing me and separating me from the life I enjoyed, before becoming a student.” (p. 516). He kept these thoughts to himself, never spoken to another person. He also stated, he knew from an early age he could not speak about such things in his classroom. All his thoughts were hidden beneath layers of embarrassments. (p.516) He makes this realization one day in a British Museum. He later quotes, “If because of my schooling I had grown culturally separated from my parents, my education finally given me “ways of speaking and caring” about that fact (p 532).
It was not until after reading modern educational theorist, only to find infrequent and slight mention of students like him. He finds one very specify book called “The Uses of Literacy by Richard Hoggart. He can relate closely to “The Scholarship Boy”. He replies, “It was the first time I realized there were other students like me, and so I was also able to frame the meaning of my academic success its consequence price—the loss”. The sentence to me indicates that he now understands that there are always sacrifices you must endure to accomplish something in life, yet there will always be the void, “the loss”. It also refers to himself as brooding and sensitive. To me this indicates that this fact, the loss and gain of education was tearing him apart. He was stuck in between two conflicting issues. But he also states, “If, because of my schooling, I had grown culturally separated from my parents, my education finally had given me ways of speaking and caring about that fact (p.532). He also has another quote by Hoggart, which is “Hoggart’s accounts is more accurate than fair.” I believe Mr. Rodriquez is referring to Hoggarts statement being accurate, but so unfair in life. My interpretation is that Mr. Rodriquez had to choose the best life for himself, but at the same time the life he left behind was also one he wished he didn’t have to leave behind.
I believe he is now haunted by the knowledge that he chose to become a student, “A Scholarship Boy”. He has lost the human closeness, qualities of passion and spontaneity that the rest of us experience in early childhood life. He chooses to disconnect with his parents, for they do not know anything about education. He has lost respect for his parents. He has instead given the authority, the privileges’ to his teachers. This is the price, if he wants to be an educated man, he needs to forget nostalgia for his life–he lost, instead he concentrates on the benefits of education.
Richard Rodriquez also complained about all the teasing that went on from his family. He didn’t quite understand his own Mexican culture. In the beginning he seems that he just wanted to escape from his life because he was a confused child, although he was theoretically very intelligent. He didn’t seem to possess intrapersonal or interpersonal intellect. He often refers to himself as the “Scholarship Boy”, in which signifies that he has a status to keep up with. He talks about imitating, listening to his teachers and wanting to be basically like his teachers. He also talks about reading books, books in which others read, what others recommended. He admits to being unoriginal. He further states: “The scholarship boy is a bad student. He is a great mimic, s collector of thoughts, not a thinker; the very last person in class who ever feels obliged to have an opinion of his own.”
However, there is a passage where he does seem to give his parents credit by stating: “Tightening the irony into a knot was the knowledge that my parents were always behind me. They made success possible. They evened the path. They sent their children to parochial schools because the nuns “teach better.” They paid tuition they couldn’t afford. They spoke English to us.” Finally, towards the end of his story he seems to acknowledge that it was his parents that made him strong and that his education drifted them apart. He again quotes another one of Hoggart’s passage:
“He longs for the membership he lost, “he pines for some Nameless Eden where he never was. “The nostalgia is the stronger and the more ambiguous because he is really “in quest of his own absconded self yet scared to find it.” He both wants to go back and yet thinks he has gone beyond his class, feels himself weighed with knowledge of his own and their situation, which hereafter forbids him the simpler pleasures of his father and mother…”
And he also writes a similar quote of his own by stating:
“It would require many more years of schooling (an inevitable miseduation) in which I came to trust the silence of reading and the habit of abstracting from immediate experience-moving away from a life of closeness and immediacy I remembered with my parents growing older-before I turned unafraid to desire the past, and thereby achieved what had eluded me for so long.–the end of education.”
In quoting Hoggart, it seems to imply that he has let his schooling, go too far. He is done trying to live a life apart from his aging parents. He misses the closeness, and although his parents are not as educated as he, he loves and misses them just the same.
Finally, I believe that Mr. Rodriquez feels he can closely relate to Mr. Hoggart’s, “The Uses of Literacy” story, because he is actually one of those scholarship boys. He has a more intimate understanding and real insight from his own actual personal experience. He seems to want to share his personal attributes with his audience. My interpretation of Mr. Rodriquez’s story is that he has learned valuable lessons in life. He is done trying to set himself apart from his family, all for the sake of a higher education and life. To Mr. Rodriguez, it was a long and lonely journey. Life and actual experience has taught him that he needs to be himself, to have his own thoughts and desires, not just those of others. But at the same time, he also seems to be satisfied with what he has lost and happy with what he has gained in return when he refers to his education to giving him ways of speaking about that fact. I also think he has learned to understand himself; to understand what was missing from his life. He has finally learned to balance his life. Not just in education, but in the loneliness and absence of real family. He also realizes that it has taken him almost his whole life to understand this concept. This is the main message he wants to share from his
Subsequently, he still gives credit to his education, by quoting, “If because of my schooling, I had grown culturally separated from my parents; my education finally had given ways of speaking and caring about that fact.” (p.532). “It was his best teachers in college and graduate school, years before, that tried to prepare him for this conclusion. The importance of the praise given the unsolitary, richly passionately and spontaneous life is that it simultaneously reflects the value of the reflective life.” He didn’t understand this message before, for he was just a scholarship boy, at the time. It would take him many more years of schooling (an inevitable miseducation) to trust the silence of reading and the habit of abstracting from immediate experience—moving away from a life of closeness and immediacy he remembered with his parents, growing older—before he turned unafraid to desire the past, and thereby he achieved what had eluded me for so long—the end of education. (p. 532). My interpretation of this quote means that he is thankful for the education he has gained. It has finally given him ways to come to terms with his gains and losses and to understand why he has always felt alone. It has given him the ability to articulate his feeling and to be able to think critically. He has also gained first-hand experience and his own perspective on what it really means to be a “Scholarship Boy”. In addition to this, he has also been able to share his knowledge and experience to others that might be going through similar situations. I think having his education and knowledge has given him ways to share his story and to share the wisdom he has gained.

Miller’s FInal Draft

Eileen Thompson
WR 121
December 5, 2012

Miller’s Final Draft Argumentative Essay, Question #4

Miller says that there are interesting ways to think about reading and writing in today’s society. Miller uses the stories of traumatic events such as the Columbine High School massacre and other horrific events to question our current educational system. He seems to argue that there is power in literature. For instance, in Miller’s passage about Krakauer’s Into the wild, he seems to suggest that what we read, and how we read, can say something about who we are and what we might become. This is a very bold claim.”(447). Miller seems to think that we are what we read. An interpretation of this is Miller, says, “Krakauer was able to get inside of McCandless head and speculate with considerable authority about what ultimately led the young man to abandon the comforts of home and purposely seek out mortal danger”, simply because he had access to McCandless’s books, his underlining and marginalia, as well as journals and the postcards and letters McCandless sent to his friends during his journey.

I agree with his analyses to a certain degree. On the other hand, I also believe human beings are able to read whatever book they choose and abstract whatever message they want from it. Most people read with skepticism. However, there are instances dependent on a person’s state of mind and the type text you read, it is possible to be persuaded to believe what the writer is trying to convey. There are certain rhetoric tools like ethos, logos, and pathos that can make you believe something that isn’t necessarily true or right. For the most part, people generally read with the grain and against the grain, so to speak.

Subsequently, in this particular case where Miller suggests that McCandless was ultimately undone by the great trust he placed in the written word, McCandless’s way of reading Jack London’s, Call of the Wild, which were stories about life in Alaska. “He was so enthralled by these tales…that he seemed to forget they were works of fiction, constructions of the imaginations that had more to do with London’s romantic sensibilities than with the actualities of life in the subarctic wilderness”. (p.430). McCandles also relied so heavily in a book called “Tanaima Plantlore” to guide him through the gathering in the wild. In which would result to his death. He relied so heavily in the information given in the book that he assumed that because there was no mention of seeds being poisonous in the book, he therefore thought they were edible and consumed them which later resulted to his demise.

Under these circumstances, I do think that there are some individuals that can be vulnerable to certain situations. For instance, people living with some type of trauma in their life. I also think that for the mentally ill or unstable minds, certain books can trigger negative effects in them. And I suppose that sometimes, certain thoughts can be implanted in the brain. I also believe that if you constantly read a certain type of material that eventually you start to believe and modify your life to a certain degree. I also think sometimes being informed about certain things that we weren’t aware of before, can trigger certain behaviors and thoughts that were not in us. In fact they get implanted in our belief system. Therefore, I guess there are certain books, movies, music that can influence or change our behaviors or state-of-mind to a certain degree.

As a matter of fact sometimes you choose books to compliment or to cope with whatever feeling you are currently experiencing, you also tend to read books according to your current mood. For instance, when you experience a loss, you usually tend to get books that help you cope through your ordeal and with your sadness. You also read books that are required in certain subjects, e.g. school, work etc. As Miler says, like McCandless he wanted to believe in the words London invented, because he wanted to be enchanted, he failed to ask the question that Krakauer believed must be of concern to all readers namely, what is the relationship between what the author says and the way the author lives? McCandless was killed off by reading practice that placed too much faith in books, a practice that forgets that the world in all its infinite complexity and particularity will always exceed the explanatory grasp of any single text and, indeed of all texts taken in their totality. (p.430)

Miller also says that reading and writing are also somewhat dangerous. He refers to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Miller also says that Chris McCandless dissolved his trust fund, sold all of his stuff, burned what money he had left, and started out on a cross-country adventure that ended with him dying of starvation in the Alaskan wilderness. Miller comes closer to explaining McCandless’s dangerous relationship to books about adventure and self-reliance. Miller also talks about, philosophers and people before coming to his final conclusion that the world needs to change and one change that he would favor most would be for the next generation of humans to be exceptionally critical readers, writers, thinkers, and activists; as quoted on page 442.

Granted, there was a certain time period in my life, when I was depressed and I was searching for ways to cope with my life at the time. While going through this traumatic time, I found myself watching movies that brought me some kind of comfort. Incidentally, I also experienced a change in me after a movie which seemed to influence in me in some way. It was a television series called, “Touched by an Angel”. It captured me, so to speak. Their shows influence a different attitude in me. I was always a quiet, overall nice person, but these shows made me believe that I had to do more. I started feeling that I needed do a lot more than just be plain nice. I needed to go out of my way to be nice. It also made me open my mind to receive hidden messages, messages from God, and messages from people. I suppose I became more perceptive.

Furthermore, it made me trust that things always happen for a reason. It made me blindly trust. However, I don’t know, if this would be considered dangerous. I suppose it does to a certain degree. But these shows gave me hope. As a result of these shows, it made me want to know God more. I started to read the Bible more and watch other religious shows, more often. I always felt, sadness, ease and contentment after these shows. I also found some peace in my life. I think that I gravitated to these types of shows because I was feeling a bit lost. I think everybody goes through hard times and stages in their life that requires self-reflection during certain traumatic events.
The episode that really captured me from Touch by an Angel, was one episode called “The Series Finale”, it was the last, Touch by an Angel episode, whereas Monica, an angel, earns her wings. In this particular episode, there was a character by the name of Zac. Zac came to a small town that was slowly losing their community and closeness. But, little by little Zac started bringing the town together again. The reason that the town was torn apart was due to the fact that there was an explosion a few years earlier. There was a bomb that exploded and all of the children in the small town got killed. It left the whole town feeling angry and lost.

Well one day, this new comer by the name of Zac came into town wanting to change the whole town around. He started to rebuild the small church that got shut down by the community. The people started to lose faith in God. Zac started fixing up all the old children’s toys and putting them in the rebuilt church that he was fixing up. The people didn’t understand why this newcomer was doing so much for their community. They started getting very suspicious. The people in the small town thought he was caring too much about the town; they started thinking that he was the bomber that killed all the children in the town. There was so much hate towards this man.

Eventually, he came to have a conversation with a young mentally challenged man. This mentally challenged man admitted that he was the one at fault, for the burning of the school. The challenged man was trying to save a kitten; he didn’t realize that he had burnt down the school. When he revealed this to Zac, Zac protected him, he didn’t tell anyone. But the town was getting more and more suspicious of him. Well to make a long story short. The town had so much hate and wanted to blame somebody they ended up arresting Zac. But, Zac would not tell the mentally challenged man’s secret. He knew that if he did he would be arrested and put away forever. Instead he stayed quiet and took the blame.
Well Monica, the angel, believed in Zac. She went to the jail where Zac was being detained and revealed to him that she was an angel. She told him that God knew where Zac was when those children died. She told him that the days ahead would be very hard, but if he asked God to send an angel to protect him, every day, every moment, every second that he would. She also told him, that if he allowed her she would ask God to allow her to be his angel for the rest of his life to protect him.

As the days passed, they realized that he was not guilty that he did not in fact kill the children. But, when Monica went to the jail to tell him of the good news, he was already gone. She later found out that Zac was not just another man. She saw a shining bright light and there stood Zac, It was God almighty, in the figure of a man, as Zac. Monica started crying and asked for His forgiveness. She asked for forgiveness for not recognizing him. God replied, “If you had known who I was you would have done anything for Me. But look what you did for a stranger? And no greater love hathed no person nor angel, you gave your life for another. Well done, good and faithful servant.” These were the most powerful and inspirational words that I have ever heard. These words from this movie, gave me new hope and a completely different perspective of life. These were events that happened in a fictional TV series, yet, I put trust and faith in these shows and still to this day, I still do. Therefore, I take a closer look at what Miller says about reading and writing. I suppose they can be somewhat dangerous. However it is my thought that if you are able to abstract and assess the texts, even during fragile times of your life, you should be able to make sound decisions, in any event.

For instance, even though I was going through a traumatic event in my life that made me want to watch these episodes. The trigger at the time was a separation; I was going through with my husband at the time which eventually turned into a bitter divorce. This was a very traumatic time in my life, whereby triggered a closer look into my life and who I was. There’s always the need to feel guilt and blame and we go looking out for solutions, sources, for answers, and my source was the Bible and Touch by an Angel, T.V. Series. I guess, I should say luckily it was the bible and not some crazy hateful book. I suppose to a certain degree books do sometimes say who you are and what you are. People seem to find coping systems and books that relate to them in accordance to their current situation and life events. I found comfort and tranquility in positive outlets. I chose to look for healthy ways of coping with my problems.

In conclude, I would argue that texts only affirm one’s own opinion or mood. Surely, there can be influences that can temporary hinder your thoughts when you are going through some kind of difficult dilemma or soul searching time. As was the case, for Eric Harris, Klebold and McCandless, they were all subjects with lost souls, searching for answers. In fact, Miller argues that Eric Harris certainly didn’t accept the idea that anyone was to blame for his actions or that anything could have been done to stop him or Dylan Klebold in going forward with their plan. Anticipating speculation of just this kind, Harris wrote in his diary. (p.421-422). Eric Harris wrote in great detail what, whom, and who not to blame, as if accepting responsibility in its totality, in a twisted turn of events. In these particular circumstances the subjects presumably where going through some type of dilemma or soul searching period and they made choices that resulted in catastrophic tragedies. Therefore I say, for the most part, books do have the ability to determine who we are or who we will become. It is basically an image of what is already there. We have the ability to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints an ability called free will.

Works citied:

Miller, Richard E. “The Dark Night of the Soul.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. Eds. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s. 2011: 418-444. Print.
Touched by an Angel, The Series Finale, (1994-2003). T.V.

Reflective Essay

Eileen Thompson
WR 121
December 5, 2012

Reflective Introduction

Diving into the writing world has been quite interesting, intimidating and challenging for me. I haven’t had a writing class in over fifteen years and writing has definitely changed since I was in High School. We didn’t learn to write MLA style or to use vast amounts of citing styles as we do today. Things have definitely changed since then. I use to think that I was a good writer, but throughout my coursework in WR 121, I realized how raw I really was. I had to really focus on improving my ways of writing.

Throughout this course, I learned to sharpen my critical analytical skills, by reading with the grain and against the grain. I learned to continuously ask “why” on many different levels. I challenged myself to dig deeper into a text to develop a better understanding of the author’s intended purpose and audience. I also learned to identify different writing styles and to make connections that weave texts together; this helped me develop a deeper understanding of the essays. I had to develop strategies in order to help me understand and to be able to follow some of the complicated essays that were assigned from the Ways of Reading textbook.

In addition, there were times; I would get frustrated and lost in some of the readings. But, I learned to read with a pencil and to make side notes, which has taken my writing to a new level because now, I am able to connect back with my initial insights marked on the page. I am also able to see connections and flow of where the author is going with their story. I have learned to form my own critical analysis by way of abstraction. Moving past this way has greatly opened my mind. My thoughts are now able to be more complex because I have learned how to sustain a logical argument into an organized argument.

Another improvement is my ability to point out multiple complexities within a text, instead of sticking to one-sided arguments on my papers. In addition, I learned that we as the audience check for the author’s credibility and I never really thought of that before. I also learned that authors have a specific genre when they write. There is usually a specific audience and purpose the author’s aims to target. I learned to read rhetorically and to write that way as well. It amazes me how certain ways of writing allows you to move in ways that you never imagined. It is truly an art to know the strategies of writing.

Additionally, we had exposure of peer reviews and I didn’t realize how much insights you really get form other peers. Sometimes, you get so involved with a certain topic that you forget that you have to be clear about what you are writing to other preaders. It gives you the ability to self-reflect and to polish your work with new eyes. I also had practice with post writing which made my writing improve. I learned how to find creditable resources using the Lane Community College Library website to search for resources. It has definitely widened the scope of my research, which has led me to produce better papers.. My writing is so much more interesting than it used to be.

To demonstrate, I have compiled a working folder on an e-portfolio using WordPress.com to track my collection of artifacts and reflective work. By gathering all of my drafts, instructor’s comments, peer reviews and responses, together with my best works and supplied as evidence of my growth. To be specific, I have included my first rough draft writings from the Rodriguez’s and Miller’s Ways of Readings essays as well as my final drafts. It clearly exhibits where I started from and how I have grown as a writer. This is just a stepping stone for me. I will continue to work on my reading and writing skills so that I may become a more effect communicator.