Thursday, November 5, 2009

Best. Papers. Ever.

While my kids sorted and traded their Halloween candy on Sunday, I finished grading my community college students' papers. This is the last writing class most of them will ever take. It's critical thinking/persuasion.

Our topic was a tough one: terrorism. And the readings were even tougher: essays from the American Spectator, from National Commissioners, university
professors, politicians.

This was the question: How have the events of 9/11 shaped the American perspective on terrorism.

Now, give that a second or two. How have the events of 9/11 shaped the American perspective on terrorism?

There is fear. There is stereotyping. There is public policy. But there is no more invincibility.

It took my class three weeks to find that out. By picking apart tomes on "terror," we could define it, identify it, analyze it.

We read. We talked. We asked a lot of questions. In fact, we came up with more questions, harder questions, than the one we were given.

Then we wrote.

My paper began with the last lines of the Broadway musical "Cabaret": "It was the end of the world. And I was dancing with Sally Bowles. And we were both fast asleep."

My conclusion was what one of the authors coined "a wake-up call": how the United States' oblivion collapsed with the Twin Towers.

"Terror" is not a pleasant topic. But these papers were an absolute joy.

Every student took a stand and supported it--well.

Titles were carefully chosen, and transitional phrases were used. There were accusations, projections, calls-to-action, not to mention miraculous editing.

Every several terms, a class emerges from out of nowhere with wisdom, effort, and intelligence.

It just makes the job so worth doing.


Christy Raedeke said...

You are such a great teacher. They're lucky to have you.

Jennie Englund said...

That's kind, Christy, thanks.

In this job, gratitude means everything.

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