Reading and writing (not so much arithmetic)

In looking back through my blog posts so far this semester, I see that I’ve talked a lot about working through difficulty by writing, and about the connections between reading and writing in general. In Week 2, I talked about Difficulty Papers; in Week 3, I talked about the Oxford system and how I studied a work of literature by researching and writing a paper about it; in Week 4, I talked mostly about embracing difficulty and confusion in texts; in Week 5, I talked about understanding what you read by writing about it in reading logs or more casual writing assignments; and last week, I talked about Blau’s inventive ideas for student writing in a literature course, including non-thesis-based writing assignments and collections of thoughts or “noticings.”

I’m not very surprised by this since I just took 615 (the composition proseminar) last semester — student writing is fresh on my mind. I will admit, though, that my own writing is also on my mind. I’m not sure if I should be embarrassed to mention that I have learned a lot about my own reading and writing techniques and strategies in the first six weeks of this course. And I have learned ways to improve them. I may be learning how to teach others, but I am also definitely, definitely learning to improve my own interpretation skills.

I think I’ve also focused on learning through writing because I like what so many of the authors that we’ve read have had to say about working through difficulty this way. As a student who admits being intimidated in some undergraduate literature courses by the silence of the classroom after the professor says, “So, what did you think about Kafka?”, I was excited by many of the exploratory writing assignments discussed in some of the readings. “No-stakes” or “low-stakes” writing is very appealing to me, and I can see how it would be appealing to students of literature, especially high schoolers or undergraduates not specializing in English fields.

In general, I like the idea of writing as a process not only in and of itself (a writing process), but also as part of a process of learning about something else — literature. Personally, I love to read, and I love to write (I guess no big surprise since I’m in this classroom!), so I love seeing the two cross-pollinate and work together.