Reflective Statement- Sam Sarlo

Core Values, Schmore Schmalues

(Cutting the Crap and Getting Down to Brass Tacks)

Core Value III. Understand how texts represent meaning and how the

processes of writing and reading create and interpret meaning.

Students learn to appreciate that writing—their own and others’—is a process that creates, shapes, and conveys meaning. They learn that texts present meanings in different ways in different settings, including disciplinary ones.

–       How exactly is it that texts represent meaning? I could write a whole page full of text that is absolutely meaningless. How the processes of writing and reading create and interpret meaning, I have no idea. Through  these processes, writers and readers may proclaim and interpret ideas, but neither the processes nor the people create meaning. The idea of the writing process creating meaning implies that the topic was totally meaningless until it was written about, and that it is not the writer’s. If there is anything to write about a given topic, it must already have meaning. The writer can express his ideas and opinions, and inferences about the meaning of the content, but he cannot create meaning, which is why our professor chose meaningful topics. The last sentence of this core value is disgustingly awkward and open for misinterpretation. It could mean we learn that different texts present the same ideas in different ways but never in the same setting, or it could mean that every text presents its meaning in different ways depending on the setting, or maybe it means that each text presents multiple meanings, but each in a different way within a setting that is different from that way. They also fail to clearly communicate whether it is the setting, the the way it is presented, or the text itself that may be disciplinary.

Core Value V. Understand the role and use of information in writing.

Students should become aware of the status of various kinds of individual knowledge, including experiences, perceptions, and opinions, as information, and understand the ways in which individual knowledge is the starting point of who students are as writers. They should begin to expand the ways in which they construct their knowledge and identity to engage with external sources of information. They should develop an understanding of how external sources of information connect with and affect their individual knowledge. The kinds of external knowledge that students are encouraged to work with should include both those that allow them to most readily form these connections and relationships to their individual knowledge base and those that develop, challenge or even disrupt their individual knowledge base.

–       I believe I have found Captain Obvious, and he is writing Comp II core values. I’m not sure how a person could possibly get this far in his life without the ability to recognize individual knowledge as information. All that this first sentence really says is that every person has a unique personality and viewpoint. Writing is nothing more than information arranged in a logical progression, and learning is nothing more than expanding individual knowledge through external sources. This core value is really just a big fat wordy failed attempt to explain something that we have all understood and practiced for years, and all humans do naturally- learn.

Core Value VII. Understand the power and ethical responsibility that come

with the creation of written discourse.

Students become aware that writing is an outer-directed, meaning-making activity with personal,public, and social ramifications; that writing, is in essence, an ongoing conversation with their and others’ ideas and writing. As such, students develop the ability to conscientiously engage in topics to understand their complexity and ramifications to others and, to thus, engage in meaningful discussion.

–       Captain Obvious returns! Any kid who has ever been punished for saying or writing something inappropriate understands the “responsibility that comes with the creation of written discourse.” Just as we learned as children to watch what we say, we must choose our written words even more wisely to insure that our writing is clear and appropriate for its intended audience and context. I think this core value may have been stolen from my sixth grade English syllabus, then filled with big words to make it seem more important. The ridiculous prospect from core value I that the act of writing itself creates meaning is restated here in a massively awkward run-on sentence, accompanied by the blatantly obvious assertion that writing is “outer-directed.” Writing is not always a conversation, sometimes it is just a story or emotional expression, as in fiction or poetry. Argument writing is always part of an ongoing discussion, but if that’s what they meant they should have specified. The last sentence here claims that we should develop the ability to conscientiously engage in topics for the purpose of understanding that they are complex and what they mean to others, but makes no mention of expressing our own claims or opinions.

Upon return from my voyage into the dark shadowy realm of ambiguity and glorified proclamations of the obvious that is the CC2 guide, I came to reflect on my actual progress this semester. The concept of counterintuitive topics is a brilliant way to stir up controversy, argument, and the deep thinking that ensues. My efforts to analyze and understand every facet of such complex issues felt like a workout for my brain. I exercised my critical skills by interpreting and misinterpreting each claim made in the course reading material and I learned to test claims for clarity by misinterpreting them. I then turned this critique on my own writing to insure that my own claims are clear and concise. I’m still working on  adjusting my tone to sound more academic and less like a ranting blogger, which is a challenge to my opinionated nature. Through making and analyzing compelling arguments, I learned how to make quotes mean what I want them to mean and how to successfully and respectfully demolish and incorporate into my own argument even the best rebuttals of my stance. Best of all, I have greatly improved my ability to instantly recognize unclear, ambiguous, wordy writing and check my own writing for such symptoms.


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1 Response to Reflective Statement- Sam Sarlo

  1. davidbdale says:

    Well, that was certainly “outer-directed”! 🙂
    Thanks for both the entertaining rant and the sincere (or at least sincere-sounding) reflection that followed. I’m glad but not surprised that you accepted the challenge to question the questions you were asked. Maybe it was you who set yourself that challenge! Nice work, Sam.

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