English 101 has been like no other English course I’ve ever taken. I’m a Math/Physics major and I’m from England. Due to the way the educational system works across the pond, I haven’t had to write an essay since I was 16 because I chose to study Math, Physics and Chemistry for my equivalent of junior and senior year of high-school. So when I got to college and discovered I was required to take ENG 101, I was filled with dread. I looked at the writing topics of the different sections and noticed David Morgen’s class on games. I love games and was looking forward to analysing them so I made sure it was the first class that I signed up for at enrollment. For the first time I felt excited by the prospect of writing.
The first point that David made that really hit home for me was the idea that most English classes teach you to write using a formula. X number of paragraphs, structured like this or like that, with one point and evidence, blah blah blah. It makes for very boring work which is very easy to mark. I felt that writing and English classes were always going to be like that, which is why I hated them. By a landslide, the most important thing I’ve learned thanks to David’s class is how to write properly. I may not be very good yet, but at least I’m finally going in the right direction. I’ve broken free of the ‘five paragraph’ shackles and can write in the way I want to write. Which is where this reflection letter becomes a bit awkward. I think that the easiest way to answer whether or not I met the learning objectives is to write five paragraphs (one for each of the learning outcomes), using a point and some evidence to explain how I can now ‘Compose texts in multiple genres, using multiple modes’. Doing so, however, would go against everything I’ve learned this semester. Instead, I want to reflect on what this class has taught me as an individual. These may not specifically line up with the learning outcomes, but instead they are ways that this class has taught me things that will stick with me for life.
I mentioned in my sidequest (this class’ term for a low stakes assignment) ‘Centre Stage’ that this class has made me address fears and emotions due to the public nature of our assignments (we post them on a public website that the whole class and world can see). I hate being the centre of attention. After Covid-19 struck down the second half of the semester, David assigned ‘Hometasks’ to us. These were silly tasks such as ‘Throw a piece of paper into a bin, in the most spectacular way’. Somehow I ended up dressed as Hugh Hefner, hitting a flaming paper ball with a golf club, into a bin, held by my Dad dressed as Yao Ming. I felt very exposed and vulnerable after posting it. I may have found it funny, but what if my classmates or David thought it was inappropriate or weird? I started worrying about what was going to happen in the next class. Infact, I ended up winning that particular task. David also used my video as an example to show how his class is going under quarantine. I was slightly overwhelmed that I was in the spotlight for doing something good! This catalysed a series of hometasks where I felt I could be myself even under the knowledge that I was being judged (literally) by my peers and my professor. A small handful of people in my life would understand how much of an accomplishment this was for me, so you’ll have to take my word for it, this was huge. Making a piece of work that was basically my personality in a video and not worrying about being laughed at or humiliated but instead being praised gave me an unusual sense of pride and warmth that I won’t forget for a long time.
I have loved every writing assignment in this class, which is something I never thought I’d say. This is because of the way David has encouraged me, and the rest of the class, to write. One aspect, in particular, that I feel has changed my writing is incorporating emotion. David pointed out that the assignments that tend to be the most compelling are the ones that involve some level of introspection, vulnerability and emotion. This struck me as pretty obvious, yet somehow I had never realised it before. I had also never thought to incorporate it in my own writing. This is where I learned the art of balancing vulnerability and introspection without oversharing. It’s a fine balance that can be awkward or uncomfortable if you get it wrong. Feeling like I can put my emotions into my writing is one of the reasons I have enjoyed this class so much. It has felt liberating and it certainly is going to be something I work on for my future writing. This class taught me to love writing. I know this isn’t listed under the learning outcomes but I would argue it is more important that all of them.
ENG 101 has taught me more than just ‘Rhetorical composition’, ‘Digital Citizenship’ or any of the other learning outcomes. It has taught me the slightly more selfish point that I can enjoy writing, that through the medium of creating a video, podcast, essay or picture, I can create something that I can be proud of. Like a few of my other posts this has been quite self indulgent, but for good reason. I’m reflecting on what this class has taught me, and this class has taught me a lot about myself, it has improved my self-confidence and helped me grow as a writer and as a person.