oneirophrenia: (Ear!)
WHY do colleges and universities schedule students into "remedial" writing courses like, say, Waynesburg or Cal U's ENG 100, and then also schedule them for history/philosophy/etc. classes that require mad amounts of research papers? They're in ENG 100 to be prepared to do college writing, yet in other classes they're already expected to be doing it. That is so backasswards it makes me want to travel back in time and punch an earlier version of myself in the head.

Yesterday, one of my 100 students, Jasmine--the only black girl in all of Greene County, it seems--asked me if I could help her with a research paper. "Uhhh...none of our essays in this class involved research," I noted. "No, no, no," she answered, "this is for my history class." This class requires her to do three separate research papers. The assignments provide the topics, but she is expected to research the data, put it all together, and then document it all using MLA style. Jasmine has never done a research paper in her life--her highschool didn't have a senior project or anything like that, and she went to tech school for health-care training, so she never really had to write anything. Which is why she's in ENG 100 instead of ENG 101, the research-writing class. And these three papers in her history class are the biggest percentage of her grade.

As an English instructor, it's my duty to make sure anyone who comes to me for advice or instruction--whether he or she's a student of mine or not--is provided with the necessary information. But how can I possibly teach this poor girl who barely knows what a standard 5-paragraph essay is everything she needs to know to do a research paper? The best I told her I can do is show her the basics of research (which isn't that difficult at all) and then try to show her how MLA works as best I can by next Wednesday, which is when the first paper is due. Oy freakin' vey. I'll do everything I possibly can to help her out, but there's just no way you can teach someone who has no concept of research writing how to do it well enough to earn an A in under a week's time. As long as she doesn't fail the assignment, I'll be happy--and I'll try like hell to ensure she doesn't.

This kind of cross-scheduling shit really frosts my balls, though. Perhaps a little interdepartmental continuity would be a good thing.

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oneirophrenia

April 2007

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