Tag Archives: college

Day 5: Knowledge

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Just trying to absorb as much as I can.

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Bridging the Gap Between Art and Science

Sometimes the best way to understand how to move forward is to take a look back. Looking back over some of the papers that I have written over my college career I discovered some things that I could have done better, and a few mistakes. I also found some things that I did really well. Two years ago I took an Environmental Literature course. We spent the first half of the semester studying Audubon and writing short essays about what we learned. For the latter part of the semester we took class trips to the university arboretum, sometimes with a guide and other times exploring on our own.

Throught the course of the class I learned how to take my writing skills and combine them with the scientific knowledge that I was learning. The professor was enthusiastc about teaching us how to write about science in a way that was creative and full of emotion and passion, something that I hadn’t realized was possible in writing for science.

This new approach to scientific writing inspired the topic of one of my essays for the course. In the essay I wrote about how scientific writing doesn’t always take the form of the cold, clinical statistics and technical jargon that we are used to. I used Audubon’s Birds of America to provide examples for how scientific writing can be aesthetic and more importantly how English, in regard to writing, and science can sometimes have signifigant overlap.

“In the world of writing it is common for the scientific and the aesthetic to be compared, and in most cases dismissed as completely different entities. But why is this, is one better than the other well certainly not.”

For my paper to be effective I needed to use some of my rhetorical skills. I needed to establish a level of ethos in order to make my discussion relevant. To do so I used what I can now define as Nullius in Verba or “On the word of no man”. I quoted Audubon to support my argument, in the hopes of gaining some authority for myself in the eyes of my audience. To establish Logos I asked the question, as you can see above, what makes one field better than the other and then went on to attempt to explain the ways in which the two fields can work as compliments.

The best part about reflecting over old papers is discovering how far I have come. In the essay that I wrote I didn’t discuss the ways in which technical writers bring English and science together as they create documents. I wasn’t aware that I, an English major, could build a website for a scientific, or any other company that is technically sound as well as aesthetically pleasing. I didn’t fully understand the range of English, and the skills that I would gain in studying it, would give me.

Thanks to a few great professors I understand now. So when my friends studying various sciences joke about my English degree, I laugh right along with them because little do they know we could be working together in the future.

Reading is Power

Ever wonder why there are books on just about everything? We all had a favorite book that we read, or that our parents read to us, when we were children. If asked to explain why that book was our favorite one would learn the value in which we had ascribed to the story. Whether your favorite book taught you about good and evil, to never give up, or about the importance of friendship and sharing (like my personal favorite Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister) it taught you something. Books codify knowledge into a valuable, tangible object that can be reused and shared. Putting it simply the information found in books is the key to the spreading of knowledge.

public-domain-images-free-stock-photos-high-quality-resolution-downloads-public-domain-archive-10As we grew our parents sent us off to school everyday where the same method of transmitting knowledge was applied by our teachers. Young, eager, and ready to absorb information with our sponge like brains we were handed more books. We got older and the books got thicker holding more information, more power. By the time I reached high school, the primary way to learn a subject was to read the textbook given on it. Why? Well if my above explanation wasn’t enough Bernadette Longo states in Spurious Coin “To summarize, we could (over)simplify this characterization to say that textbooks contain knowledge that purports to be exhaustive, important, useful, standardized, idealized, for the public benefit, and encouraging of systematized social stability through science” (p.71).

So by the time we hit college we understand one thing for certain if we know nothing else, and that is to read the book. The book holds all of the power by this point in our lives because we understand it to hold all of the information. The professors are people who are new to our lives and yes, they have to prove and protect their authority before we are willing to be swayed by their lectures.

Professors teach concepts, and then to prove why we should trust their authority on the subject, assign readings that reiterate what they say. It is true that the professor decides our fate on the grade in the course, to a certain extent, but the book is the key to information and the keeper of knowledge. Anyone who has taken a college course can attest to the fact that sometimes professors never use the book they assign, which creates a power struggle between the professor and the textbook and is extremely frustrating for the student, but that’s another conversation.

The point is by the time we have made it out into the working world we have developed a need for evidence, and we ascribe authority to whichever source can prove it’s information to be true. By adulthood we have adopted a way of knowing that has been shaped by our academic experiences, and more specifically the books that we encountered along the way.

I trust that there is a superior way of doing things because that is what my years of ascribing authority to textbooks have taught me. I trust that if I can’t figure something out there is a document or a book that can help me solve my problem. I put faith in the books that are assigned for me to read because my professors, authority figures, defer the power that they have onto the books that they recommend. I question what people claim to be “fact” until I can find hard evidence for myself. For this dependency on proof in the form of written evidence I thank the guy who said hey, maybe we should write this down.

Longo, B. (2000). Spurious coin: A history of science, management, and       technical writing.SUNY Press.

Getting it out

Alder Favorit Typewriter

I am in a Non-fiction class this semester and the only assignment that exists for this class is to write a thirty page portfolio. That’s it, any type of non-fiction, any subject. I chose to write about the death of my mother when I was nine years old and my attempts to save her, and at the risk of sounding like a cliche, I must say that maybe it chose me. Writing this portfolio has been crippling , nearly impossible and all over enlightening. I have written about a subject that I cannot verbally talk about. My professor, who has more confidence in my writing than I do, has led a couple of conferences with me, each of them more difficult than the last. Today was exceptionally hard. I found myself in a bad mood later that I cannot explain. Part of me regrets writing the pieces in the first place and the other part of me is just happy to have it out there. In the end I’m just so grateful for the power of words. I am able to write what I can’t say.

Growing up

I’ve been told, as I am sure we all have, that growing up is hard. Suddenly you are responsible for keeping the power on, and paying rent, and buying groceries. These things that, for years, had all been taken care of by someone else are suddenly your responsibility. They, those older and wiser people that we thought had no idea what they were talking about for many of our young years, tell us to try to stay a child as long as we can because being an adult can really be tuff sometimes.

What they don’t always tell us is that one of THE hardest parts of growing up is watching people pass in and out of your life. When I was a freshman I was lucky enough to meet a really great group of people. We had a pretty big group and did almost everything together. By the second semester of my freshman year it became pretty obvious that not everyone that was in the group would stay in the group. But that was okay because those of us that continued to hang out realized how much we really valued each other’s friendship. I am still friends with two of those girls today and I am so happy that I met them and got to experience college with them. But one of those girls graduated last May and the other will graduate in this coming December, whereas I will not graduate until May 2015.

We are all headed in separate directions and while we promise to keep in touch, the fact is that more often than not, people in our situations eventually lose touch. People get married, and have children, and life just happens. My best friend and I have been really talking about our future plans lately because this is my last year at the university. I plan to try to find a job in Atlanta after school and then hopefully someday in New York City. She doesn’t plan on leaving the state. And while I am happy that she has possibly found that someone, I would be lying if I said that the thought of all of that change didn’t scare me. When you have a person in your life that you see everyday, and that knows you better than anyone in the world, and gets your odd sense of humor, and shamelessly gushes over a tv show with you it’s hard to think of not being around them anymore.

I consider myself lucky to have already met so many wonderful people, and to have gotten to learn from them and experience great friendships. But, for me, the hardest part of growing up has been learning to accept the fact that people come and go in your life, and that you just have to enjoy the time that you have with them and be grateful that you had that time. Change is a good thing. And who knows, maybe someday I will be in New York City celebrating my bestseller and my friends will be right there by my side.

Started from the bottom now we’re here.

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     I would have used a better quote had this one not been so fitting! I promised myself when I started this blog that I would never bring football into it because here in the south especially, football is it’s form of religion. However after the recent turn of events i.e. the Marshall Miracle that took place in last night’s game against Georgia, I can’t help it. With the usual 7 a.m. start I was excited to get back out to tailgate after having missed the last home game because I was out of town.

     Everything was going according to usual, we were eating and drinking and everything was great. The game against Georgia was set to begin at 2:30 but the topic of discussion was instead all about the Iron Bowl. “If we can just fight through this, we can focus on Bama.” people would say. I confess even I was a bit skeptical about our chances against Georgia especially with some of their players that had been hurt coming back.

But I had faith, I had faith that we would battle and whether we won or lost our team would give em hell.

     Once 2:30 rolled around the town was still, the stadium was full and those who weren’t at the game were glued to a television. I sat at our tailgate with a group of friends cheering and shouting during the first half. And then the second half rolled around. If you watched our game you know that for Auburn, shit got crazy. Suddenly the win that I was so sure we had clenched had slipped right out of our fingers. To say I was nervous would be a massive understatement. Our Georgia friends of course were elated but every Auburn fan stood hands on head terrified that we were going to lose this thing.

And then there was a miracle.

     Nick Marshall with the help of Ricardo Louis pulled off a catch that will go down in football history as one of Auburn’s greatest football moments. The moment Louis crossed into the end zone everyone went wild. I am an Auburn Tiger I have loved and supported my team when they were winning and losing, and in a year from now I will be able to call myself an Auburn Alumni. I think most people know what it feels like to be an underdog and when you have a season like the one we had last year, having a season like the one we are in now makes it all that much sweeter.

I am proud of our tigers, I am proud to be an Auburn tiger and I am ready for Bama, win or lose! War Damn Eagle!

College sucks.

college boundWelcome, beware, and lighten up, because I can not promise that you will agree with everything that I say but I’m going to say it anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way a pessimist or an ill natured person. I am a college student and if that doesn’t explain it I don’t know what else will. I love college! Ok let me rephrase that I love being a student. Not quite, I love Auburn! Yeah that sounds better. I am a student at Auburn University and I have loved every second of being here. That being said, I’m sure those of you reading this who are currently students, or have not so long ago graduated, can attest to one simple fact. College sucks! And while that statement might sound harsh it, in my opinion, it is true. Now before you all become outraged let me explain. I came to Auburn in 2010 which just happened to be the year we won the national championship. I will never forget that year, the spirit around campus was electric. Weekends seemed to be a never ending extravaganza from the moment Friday began. Everyone was happy and school pride reached a whole new level. I remember thinking how lucky I was to have been accepted to a school where people cared about strangers just as much as they did their blood relatives. I was definitely feeling the love. And then life hit, sophomore year came and I remembered that I was in school and needed to maintain the GPA I had secured the year before. And as they should the courses got harder and harder. This I expected, but what I didn’t expect was that what was even harder than my classes was life. I had been under some naive assumption that the people I met freshman year would be the people I would retell drunk stories with when my grandchildren asked about their grandmother. But oh was I wrong. That’s life I have learned and college merely filters the toxins. So here I am watching my friends prepare for graduation and setting my eye on similar plans for next spring and all I can think is how much it all sucks. Most people in this day and age believe that to be successful and to have a career that is worthy of your mothers raving to her friends at church and lunch dates, requires a college degree. Most that is, but alas that is another story for another post. But really I have come to this wonderful institution, learned amazing things, picked up numerous skills, and yet as an English major in the field of Professional and Technical communication I fear that I will still never obtain that dream career. That is no fault of the university for which I owe my eternal gratitude, but life, life instead is the culprit to my squashed dreams. So that brings us full circle college taught me so much and made me the intellectual that I am today but I fear that once it’s over I will be left with empty memories and a job bagging groceries. I came I saw and I would like to think that I will conquer life but my future is unknown. When they drop you of at college they tell you how great it will be but they don’t tell you that it sucks. It sucks to make a life to get into a good rhythm and learn who you are, and just as you have erase it all because college is over and the world awaits.