Monday, April 26, 2010

The Titanic Sails

Today I got those drafts I expected, and I must say that they are mostly quite a disaster area. I think this is pretty hopeless, and I am not sure how or IF I'll be able to salvage any of them. I have hopes for the next papers, on the films adapted from these texts. But perhaps in vain.
Students forgot how to quote from, analyze, and cite the texts and the sources, despite all the time we spent doing this on papers 1 and 2. It seems that left to their own devices, they are unable to transfer these skills to another context. Now I have unshakable proof, in case I ever thought I needed it, that independent analysis of literary texts doesn't work in a composition class except in a context where we have studied several of an author's works and they can now apply what they know to a new work by that author. Then they will have some context, which they lack here.
If I ever do an adaptation class again, it won't be a composition class. It will be strictly a class in adaptation. And you can bet I'll choose the texts they can write on very very carefully, making them texts I have read. It helps to be able to reach in and guide the student, as I have the one who is writing about Frankenstein, a text I know well, and the one who is writing about Solaris. The others, writing about texts I haven't read, and movies I haven't seen, are on their own.
Of course, in a class about research, one has this problem, no matter what kinds of texts and subjects they are writing about. I am not an expert on these topics. I can only help them make sense of the arguments they think they find in the literature, and perhaps some of these are figments of their imaginations. Perhaps when the subject is literature, the problem is that I feel I OUGHT to be an expert, and I can't be. I can't let myself off the hook as I do if they are writing about slavery in the agricultural fields in Florida, for instance.


Lou said...

Sorry things are such a mess.

Robbi said...

My fault this time.

Robin said...

Research classes are difficult in that the students often pick subjects or books that the instructor is unfamiliar with. However, I have little doubt that you DID give them the tools and information they need. At some point, especially at this level (Writing 2), they need to think independently and apply the knowledge they gained from all those writing classes (Wr. 201 - Wr. 2). Don't blame yourself, please. You are a wonderful instructor, and though you've had so much to deal with lately, I'm sure you did all you could for them.