The reality of "school" has set in. I've discovered my mortality where learning is concerned.
I said "Bring it on!"
And so it was done.
I was faced with a whole bunch of feelings I thought I'd left behind 18 years ago. All the excitement aside, I really felt kinda... scared tonight.
I read the two pieces we were assigned on Tuesday last. Checking the online blackboard, I discovered yet a third reading by one of the same authors, due today as well.
I am a frightfully slow reader - in keeping with Turtle nature. So I blow the better part of the afternoon on this "third" reading, a short story of only about 13 pages if you'd believe that. Dangerously close to class time I finally print out my thoughtfully formulated answers to the black-board-posted questions.
I arrive at class with 15 minutes to spare.
Where are my notes?
So now I feel like Johnny whose dog apparently ate his homework assignment.
I had also checked my notes from last Tuesday to confirm that I did indeed read the correct passages.
"Munro, P. 835" which in fact is "The View from Castle Rock".
This one had me curious because this mysteriously added "third reading" was also a Munro piece.
"Make sure when copying an assignment from the chalkboard here that you get the NAME of the literary piece because often I will mis-quote a page number here or there, but I'm always extremely accurate with the title and author.", says my dear prof.
I've started second-guessing myself too. I just about answered a question tonight but hesitated so as not to boldly open my mouth when I wasn't "quite" sure my answer was indeed correct.
The question was "What parts of speech should you take down when making notes?"
I'm thinking to myself that if I were to break it down THAT literally, nouns and verbs would be pretty safe bets.
Sure enough, that was exactly the answer she was looking for. I couldn't believe an entire class of English students stared at the prof. with a "deer-in-the-headlights" glare! ...myself included! (but out of fear that my simple answer was just too stupidly simple!)
Then, of course full of all kinds of confidence, I proceed to actually answer a question:
"When writing an essay, how do you present your facts?"
I'm thinking this is pretty easy, but I'd better be aware that there's a very stong Philosophical side to this course, so it could be this, but it might be that. So, here's my answer:
"I see two possibilities. I could either state my strongest point first, then my lesser supportive points OR I could start with my weaker points, working up to my strongest, leading into a solid conclusion"
Of course, not thinking ahead to "you must be able to support what you say", I was left hanging when she asked,
"You think you could use both then? Interesting. Give me an example of where you'd use each of these. I'll be back to you in a moment."
It was only after some careful reflection that I hadn't kept my examples to the purely essay-based discussion at hand. Sure, in an essay you want to get right into it - no beating around the bush, state your point and support it, then get the hell out!
My second example, once I gave it some careful thought was the structure for a novel, not an essay. In a novel, let's say fiction for example, you want to build the story so as the reader nears the end of the book you've brought them to the pinnacle, then you can gently (or not) push them over the edge of the denouement... looks much like a ski jump into nowheresville when you draw it out like a graph.
Somewhere along the line the class discussion was shifted and I was not required to support my statement. I will, however send an email to the prof. as a matter of courtesy. I tried staying after class, but close to 8 people were vying for the prof's attention.
So I'm feeling awefully new at the whole "critical thinking" component of the course. I read these pieces, made my comments, but discovered that if I were truly "into" the texts, I might have researched some history on them. Some of the details that were pointed out to us were foreign to me, and I've lived a fairly healthy chunk of life. Up until now, I considered myself fairly well acquainted with English and its bits and pieces.
When it comes to "You might have asked the question..." it makes me wonder why I didn't.
Am I not thinking critically?
Essay writing scares me, to be honest. We have a handout on Essay Form and I'm paranoid. So many little bits and pieces to remember - spacing, column margins... not to mention the content and its layout.
It reminds me of the time I took a study skills class at SAIT. The instructor would dock a third of a grade if the staple in the upper corner wasn't at a 45 degree angle. He did indeed measure it too.
I came away from tonight's class a bit on the deflated side, to be honest. I'm feeling a touch overwhelmed and wondering how a full time student manages 5 or 7 of these courses.