Defining Vocabulary or a Deeper Understanding

After Wednesday’s class activity, I couldn’t help but wonder why Professor McCoy had the class share the definition of words we didn’t know. Although you should look up words you don’t know the definition to, I doubt that Professor McCoy’s exercise was to teach us that. I believe that the purpose of the exercise was to indirectly discuss different elements of Zone One by Colson Whitehead without directly addressing specific parts of the novel.

When the initial exercise of defining the self-chosen words were complete, there was only one repeated word out of the entire list of word written on the board. This sparked my interest because out of approximately 60 words one word was repeated revealing that all students struggled with different vocabulary in Whitehead’s novel. When I first started reading Zone One I struggled with grasping the time changes in Mark Spitz’s life however, after rereading the first section of the book again before continuing on, I began to follow the time changes. I am sure that I am not the only student who struggled with time shifts in Whitehead’s novel and that many other students struggled with a different aspect of the book, such as vocabulary. I believe that vocabulary was ‌last class’s discussion because it proved the ‘both/and’ concept that has been present throughout the entire course. All students struggled with vocabulary however, we all chose different words.  Although I believe that the vocabulary exercise proved the ‘both/and’ concept, I also believe that this exercise was meant to provide students with a different approach to handling the material in Zone One.

By challenging students to seek and define words we didn’t know, it put all students on a level playing field. Each student comes from different backgrounds and majors, making our experiences with the novel different. The vocabulary exercise provided students with an equal opportunity to approach the novel in different yet similar ways. Each person may have had two different words but, we all had the same goal of defining those words. Both Mark Spitz, Gary, and Kaitlyn in Zone One are experiencing a similar situation to what we have experienced in class. Although Mark Spitz, Gary, and Kaitlyn are sweepers combating infectious skels to preserve the future, they all come from different backgrounds and scenarios of how they ended up in Zone One. I believe that as a result of the vocabulary exercise, it can provide students with a deeper understanding of what the main characters in Zone One are experiencing by sharing similar yet different feelings as they work through the material.

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