Keep the Drafts!

Over the course of the semester, I have grown to really like the concept of blogging. It has allowed me to get thoughts out and into print. I’ve thought through things that I otherwise would not have, gaining better clarity in my mind about challenging concepts. I’m thinking back to my past English courses and the approach of a few large papers worked on for the whole semester that reflects a large amount of your grade, with a focus on tiny details for points. I’ve had other courses with daily write ups, but none like this. There is something about the public nature of a blog, and the compositional tools at my disposal that allow me to be a bit more raw than those daily write ups for class I mentioned. I think that the practice of blogging can be rooted in our course concepts: making a quilt.

As this is my “last” blog post for a grade, I’m thinking about continuing the practice of writing my thoughts out at least once a week. If you all haven’t noticed, I certainly enjoy my pens and stationary, so I’ve thought about journaling in the past, which could be an outlet for me as well. Blogging, though, is public. I find the idea of putting content out there for others to read and think about to be exciting, that I could spur a discussion that otherwise would not take place. The approximate length of a blog post is excellent for me to explore a thought of this level, as I have now done eight times before on my own and once collaboratively. These past few posts have been about a similar theme in different contexts which is purposeful, not just me squeezing a similar idea into more posts so I can meet the deadline. It may be a both/and, but I’m really thinkING about the course concepts in preparation for the self reflective paper, which I have been preparing for during the entire semester.

I think that Dr. McCoy is extremely intentional in having us do these blog posts throughout the semester. The permanence of a blog post allows us to travel back in time to re-read, re-think, and potentially re-write our new thoughts based on new meditations of old ideas. This is the core of the African American literary tradition as I currently understand it. To set the European tradition as its opposite isn’t quite right, but the traditional setup of cumulative and large assignments doesn’t quite vibe with the practice of getting better at the craft. I think it takes a lot of time spent getting content out to truly get better at writing. Taking a paper and nursing it, revising it, cleaning it up until it’s good certainly has its place, and that’s what I’m going to do for the self-reflective assignment, but in a slightly different way.

This practice of revising until it’s polished works well for a grade and is relatively easy to quantify using a rubric, for example. However, I think it’s important to be able to look back at all of the other versions of the paper that you hold in your hand at the end. Where did those beautiful sentences come from? They came from countless rewrites (if you do it correctly and are rigorous, at least)! More than that, those rewrites are important to be kept and remembered! I look back at my posts and see how I write, how I’ve grown, what mistakes I’ve ironed out, and because the posts are there to be seen, I can remember more about the process of rewriting. It truly is a process! It is not a steady line that angles upwards towards “mastery”; it is not even a shaky line that generally ascends upward. I imagine the practice of thinking and writing (essentially the same thing, in my opinion) as innately cyclical. For that matter, any practice could be thought of this way, be it music, art, improving handwriting, driving standard, working out, etc. These practices are all like an image that gets clearer every time you draw it; it’s important to look at the whole book of photos to see the process. Just looking at the final product is simply not enough to understand everything that the individual who drew it up has worked through and thought about.

I think that the only downfall of this class is our lack of depth to see the recursion within individuals. This is made up for by providing the tools to continue reading and learning. I couldn’t imagine a better way to do the course myself other than making it an entire major that’s mandatory so we can understand more about the discipline, but that’s not really feesible. I can only hope that more people will take the tools we have and dive deeper into the discipline.

Envisioning myself as a future educator I think that there is a lot of room for a middle or high school classroom to grow in terms of how we think students should do work. I hope I can take this repeating, revising, iterative, quilt-making (Parks, Eglash, Barkley Brown, again) approach to cumulative assignments like state testing in some manner. I hope students can look at what they throughout the year and see their own growth instead of a teacher marking off “growth shown” for them without their own realization of the concept. This course has opened a lot of doors for me, and while it will take me a lifetime to walk through them all, it is certainly an effective lens that I now have at my disposal for understand this complex world that we all inhabit, whether we like it or not.

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