Tuesday, May 6, 2008

On Thinking

On Thinking

“Thinking…is a solitary but a lonely business; solitude is that human situation in which I keep myself company. Loneliness comes about when I am alone without…being able to keep myself company… [In thinking] I am both the one who asks and the one who answers.

“According to Kant, thinking is ‘talking with oneself…hence also inwardly listening.’

“Thus the criterion for action is ‘whether I shall be able to live with myself in peace when the time has come to think about my deeds and words. Conscience is the anticipation of the fellow who awaits you if and when you come home [to yourself].’

“The manifestation of the wind of thought is not knowledge; it is the ability to tell right from wrong, beautiful from ugly. And this, at the rare moments when the stakes are on the table, may indeed prevent catastrophes, at least for the self.”

- Hannah Arendt, Thinking, Volume I of The Life of the Mind [1]


Thomas Merton, “Rain and the Rhinoceros”
Sarah Orne Jewett, “A White Heron”
Linda Elder, “Looking to the Future with a Critical Eye: A Message for High School Graduates”

After Reading:

As Americans, we sometimes take your freedom of speech for granted. For this essay, you are not writing about “What is thinking?” Instead, you are writing a persuasive or cause-effect essay on the topic of your choice. You need to carefully select your topic, plan your method of development, and use a minimum of three sources to support your thesis. You will need to use Chicago style for referencing and citing your sources.
[1] Ballata, Phyllis. “On Thinking” Writing from Life: Collecting and Connecting. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing, 1997. 56.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

On Excellence

On Excellence

“All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare, said a wise man. If so, what happens to excellence when we eliminate the difficulty and the rarity?”

- Edward Abbey, “Down the River” in Desert Solitaire [1]

“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word - excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”
- Pearl S. Buck

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

- Aristotle


Benjamin Hoff, “The Crooked Tree”
Mark Donald Ludwig, “Look out for more Blairs”
Bill Puka, “Student Cheating: As Serious an Academic Integrity Problem as Faculty-Administration Business as Usual?”
Nancy Gibbs, “Reading Between the Lies: A young reporter who stole and made up stories forces the New York Times to take stock”

After Reading:

Where does value come from? What causes something to have value? How do we achieve excellence? Or do we ever achieve excellence? Do you feel pressure to achieve excellence? Is cheating a result of these pressures for excellence?

After considering the readings and the previous questions, write a 1-2 page essay on the topic of your choice dealing with concept of excellence. Use quotes or ideas from the articles to support your position.

[1] Ballata, Phyllis. “On Excellence” Writing from Life: Collecting and Connecting. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing, 1997. 60.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Rubric for Education Essay

Stimulating Ideas (15 points)
The writing…
____ contains a clearly stated thesis statement.
____ supports the thesis with facts, examples, and/or quotations.
____ thoroughly supports the writer’s position.

Logical Organization (15 points)
____ includes a clear beginning, a strong middle, and an effective ending.
____ presents ideas in an organized manner to best support the thesis statement.
____ uses transitions to link sentences, paragraphs, and ideas.

Engaging Voice (5 points)
____ speaks clearly and knowledgeably.
____ offers a unique and engaging discussion of the topic.

Effective Sentence Style (5 points)
____ flows smoothly from one idea to the next.
____ shows a variety of sentence length and structures.
____ balances the level of discussion, quoted material, and variety of sources.

Correct, Accurate, Copy (10 points)
____ exhibits the basic rules of writing.
____ uses - MLA, APA, Chicago, other - documentation properly.

____ Total Points (50)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Week 1 - Rubric for Resume, Cover Letter and Personal Statement

1. Accurate spelling:
a. no spelling errors = 5 points
b. 1-2 spelling errors = 3 points
c. 3-4 spelling errors = 1 point
2. Accurate capitalization:
a. no capitalization errors = 5 points
b. 1-2 capitalization errors = 3 points
c. 3-4 capitalization errors = 1 point
3. Accurate punctuation:
a. no punctuation errors = 5 points
b. 1-2 punctuation errors = 3 points
c. 3-4 punctuation errors = 1 point
4. Includes all required components for each (resume, cover letter, personal statement)
a. resume: name, address, phone number, e-mail address, statement of goal/objective,
education, activities and skills, and work experience = 35 points.
b. cover letter: heading with date; inside address includes person's name, title/department
name, address; salutation; body(includes a statement of the position you applying for,
evidence of your qualifications for the position, expression of interest in an interview;
closing; your typed name = 35 points.
c. personal statement: catches reader's attention; provided appropriate evidence of why you
are qualified for the position for which you are applying; evidence of uniqueness; succinct
(not wordy); adheres to stated word limit of 250-500 words; tailored to the job or position
you are applying for = 35 points.
Total of 50 points each for the resume, cover letter and personal statement.

Week 2 - What is Education?

"Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth?"
-Aldo Leopold, "March: The Geese Return" in A Sand County Almanac
with Essays on Conservation from Round River.

"Education, I fear is learning to see one thing by going blind to another."
-Aldo Leopold, "Manitoba: Clandeboye" in A Sand County Almanac
with Essays on Conservation from Round River.

“Life is large and surprising and mysterious, and we don’t know what we need to know. When I was a student I refused certain subjects because I thought they were irrelevant to the duties of a writer, and I have had to take them up, clumsily and late, to understand my duties as a man. What we need in education is not relevance, but abundance, variety, adventurousness, thoroughness. A student should suppose that he needs to learn everything he can, and he should suppose that he will need to know much more than he can learn.”

- Wendell Berry, “Think Little” [1]
[1] Ballata, Phyllis. “What is Education?” Writing from Life: Collecting and Connecting. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing, 1997. 11 and 52.

Mark Twain, “Two Ways of Seeing the River”
Malcolm X with Alex Haley, “How I Discovered Words: A Homemade Education”
Loren Eisely, “The Hidden Teacher”

After Reading:
Define education from your perspective.

Write a 1-2 page essay explaining your perspective of education. Use your own experiences as a student, the points of view from the three readings, and Dead Poets Society to support your position.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Week 1 - Personal Statement

Writing your personal statement:[1]
Write a positive and interesting personal statement to hold the attention of the reader.
Make sure that you address any specific questions that are asked - do not ignore them or think you can get away without answering them.
Be specific and provide appropriate evidence, e.g. if you are applying for a teacher training course, don't just say that you would make a good teacher; give examples of previous experience working in a classroom and activities where you have been involved with children.
Try to make your personal statement unique or distinctive in some way. One way to make it individual is to give a detailed example of something specific to your own experience, such as an event that influenced your decision to pursue a particular course or career.
Be succinct and avoid using long and ambiguous words or overly long sentences.
Adhere to the stated word limits - personal statements are often limited to 250-500 words, or one typed page, so write concisely while still providing enough detail.
Tailor your personal statement to the job or course you are applying for - do not use exactly the same one for different jobs.
Questions to ask yourself when writing a personal statement[2]
What in your life story makes you special, unique or impressive?
What interests you about the field of work/study for which you are applying and how did you learn about it?
What are your relevant work experiences?
What are your career goals?
What skills do you have (e.g. problem solving, willingness to learn, leadership, communication skills) and can you provide evidence to back up your claims?
What personal characteristics do you possess (e.g. integrity, compassion, persistence) and, again, can you provide evidence to back up your claims?
What responsibilities have you undertaken?
What difficulties have you overcome?
Why should you be chosen above the other applicants?
For additional information and examples of personal statements, check the following website: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/pw/p_perstate.html
[1] http://www.le.ac.uk/careers/personalstatementtips.html
[2] http://www.le.ac.uk/careers/personalstatement.html

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Week 1 - College Writing – Résumés, Cover Letters, and the Scholarship Essay

College Writing – Résumés, Cover Letters, and the Scholarship Essay

Day 1 – Introduction

Read “Writing your way into college.”
Read pages 93 – 97. Answer the Critical Thinking questions on page 96.

Day 2 – Prewriting

Go to Student Services for more information on writing résumés, cover letters, and scholarship essays.

Complete Exercises 45 – 46 on pages 97-98. Begin collecting ideas for your personal statement in each of the following areas: character development, educational plans, and occupational plans.

Day 3 – Drafting

Begin drafting a sample résumé and cover letter for a job, college application, or scholarship application. See Exercise 47 and 48 on page 98.

Watch Legally Blond. What does Reese Witherspoon’s character do to stand above the crowd? Create a list of dos and don’ts for writing cover letters, résumés, and personal statements.

Begin writing your personal statement. The purpose of a personal statement is to an employer or college admissions director an idea of who you are through your past experiences, present situations, and future goals. Be as unique and precise as possible. You want your applications to stick out from the rest rather than blend into the crowd.

Day 4 – Revising and Editing

Work in groups to revise and edit drafts of résumés, cover letters, and personal statements. Use the dos and don’ts list to critique and revise each other’s work.

Day 5 – Final Drafts

Print and turn in final drafts of résumés, cover letters, and personal statement.