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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Now, ain't that a hell of a thing

I'm in school, now, studying Media Production. There's a lot I need to learn there. I'm pretty confident with audio, though I find Adobe Audition quite daunting. Video, well, I just don't get that. I suppose if I'd grown up with access to video recorders and such, like some of these kids did, it'd be another story. Never could afford video hardware, never had the option to simply fiddle and try things, so I never developed the sort of confidence these younger folks have. That's okay; I'll get there eventually. I haven't grown stupid in my old age.

Only one obstacle is utterly beyond me. I'm required to take a course in "College writing." I know I'm not a brilliant writer. I know a number of brilliant writers, and I've read their work, and I pale in comparison. I'm fine with that. I am a good writer, and certainly a practiced one. I spent a significant part of the last thirty years in jobs where my writing skills were vital to my work.

And now I'm taking a mandatory course that is apparently designed to turn an incompetent writer into a barely adequate one. The course requires following a very strict format, word by word, sentence by sentence, resulting in writing that shows every seam, crease, and scotch-taped-together phrase. And to pass the course, I need to spend the next four months writing down to this standard, rather than up to my own standards. This lock-step blather is better suited to a computer program than an actual writer. And it's presented as "College writing."

I don't want to do that. I doubt I can do that. I sure as hell can't do that for four straight months. To quote Truman Capote, "That's not writing at all, that's typing."

I certainly understand the necessity of the course for students who have never really been expected to write. Coming into this straight out of high school, some of my fellow students might have no idea how to write a simple declarative sentence. I can. I can't write like someone who doesn't know how.

But to be able to graduate from the Media Studies program, I am required to write badly for four months straight. Even now, I'm wondering what they'd do if I dropped the class. Probably kick me out.

Now ain't that a hell of a thing?



  1. That's stupid, but as someone trained to teach English at a Secondary level I know where that stupidity comes from. Many teachers are trained in this method and it's gotten passed on. It regards language as a mathematical formula and it's difficult to grade or evaluate anything that doesn't fit that formula.

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  3. It's worse than that, I think. I'm required to take the class, not because I need the class, but because they need the money, or because they want to call themselves a College.

    I'm taking the Media Studies course to get into broadcasting, where I would be utterly unemployable if I wrote the way this class requires. It's absolutely shameful, and shouldn't be tolerated in These Troubled Times(tm).


    Too much?

  4. I wouldn't worry so much about the video production. I didn't grow up with a video camera, either. But I did take a media production class in high school which involved video production. I got through it just fine. (I also had to do some video production at the broadcasting school I went to. Again, no big deal.) As far as the writing goes, that's ridiculous. But if you need to do it to graduate, then you need to do it. It seems that most colleges force people to have to take classes they don't need. It's a dumb system, but it is the system. You can either go with it or you can get out. A lousy set of options. But, what you gonna do?

  5. I don't object to being taught about writing. I object to being taught to write badly. And resent the reasons I'm being taught to write badly.

    But I may well be stuck with it.

  6. I think that most colleges do, in fact, create some courses that are simply there to increase revenue for the college. Seems this "how to write badly" class is one of them. It's unfortunate when colleges are more interested in having students fit a formula for writing, than in the content of what they are trying to say with their writing. Colleges should not "dumb down" their students! Deplorable!

    My degree is in education (in Art). When I was in college, we had to take a class about how to write a curriculum to set up a brand new series of Art classes for a nonexistent school. This was stupid because most schools at the time (and since) were actively cutting Art classes because of budget, and also because very few Art teachers actually get granted by a school district the power to design their own curriculum. (It's all state standards). But, we had to take the class anyway. Pointless!

    In many ways, the most important thing I learned in college is how NOT to teach.


Episode Zero -- A Minor Local Celebrity

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