Wednesday, August 24, 2011
With less than a week to go, I am starting on a fresh course – teaching freshman composition. My focus will be on developing their skills for academic writing, which they will need to earn a degree, and introducing them to the fundamentals of effective writing. The secondary expectation is that they will learn that writing can be enjoyable and a valuable tool in understanding the world. I don't expect anything profound from them – few will have had the challenges in life that spark insights worth sharing, and if they have had such experiences, they have not yet seasoned their senses to distill wisdom from what they have encountered. Part of my job is to encourage a love of learning, for college is no different from any other institution of modern life: what happens today is meaningful in five years only if you shape that knowledge into a useful tool. Otherwise, the knowledge first is covered with dust, then it gets pushed aside by something new, something different. The love of learning teaches us to keep our eyes, ears and minds open, and to evaluate what we see and hear. Simple enough to say now.
The added bonus of teaching is that I will once again experience an age-old wisdom. That is, if you want to improve your ability to do something, teach someone else to do it. I will not be teaching anything about journalism or creative writing, the two venues that I have sought refuge in to ply my trade as a writer. I'm not quite certain that teaching the basics of academic writing, the intellectual honesty that the work requires, and the desire to write persuasively will afford me improvements in my own writing. Still, the adventure of helping young minds develop their paths of reasoning and expression is reward in itself.