Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm Tired, But I Learned!

I really like to write. I'm not saying I am good at it, but I do like it. The process of getting information, reflecting on it, and then writing my own thoughts about it is rewarding. ENG 240 has reinforced that fact for me, however, fitting an eight week class into four weeks has been brutal. With that said, here are my answers and feedback on the class.

Did my performance meet my expectations? Based on the assignments given and the time we were given to do them I would say yes. I am extremely grateful that the instructor was organized and included many tools to make sure we could stay organized as well. I completed every assignment on time and was glad that each assignment prepared me for the next one. I wish I could have spent more time researching and learning, but the demands of life can force flexibility.

What would I do differently if I did this course again? This question is tough to answer. To be honest I think I got a little burnt during week three while researching and writing the rough draft. I spent many hours reading and searching for that one piece of evidence that would support my ideas. By the end of the weekend my mind was shot. I should have started the research process earlier in the class so I was not so overwhelmed in week three.

What would I have done the same? I spent a lot of time reading the discussion boards. I enjoyed and grew from reading other people’s experiences and opinions. I will definitely continue to do that in future classes. I guess the discussion boards are like going to class since there is not physical classroom, almost like the social part of school.

My grade? I worked hard. Am I perfect? No, however, I think based on my effort and the work I produced I deserve an A. If the professor’s opinion is different, perhaps we can meet somewhere in the middle :).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail

Newspapers have an editorial pages. In these, anybody can submit their thoughts or feelings about modern day issues or concerns. The problem with these pages is they are limited in space, and the editor ultimately decides what is published and what is not. Blogs are like editorial pages, but anyone can publish anything on their own site with unlimited amount of space available.

Martin Luther King's letter from Birmingham jail is a very well written essay describing the difficult position of black American's before and during the civil rights period of American history. Had this letter been written today I am sure it would have been published as a blog post, in fact, I am sure many people would have responded to his blog post with posts of their own.

The letter takes on a blog's tone. He has studied and more important, he has experienced many of the atrocities he describes in his letter. He gives his opinion of what he observes, makes an emotional connection with the readers, and gives a rallying call to encourage others to join in the fight. Many blogs today take on similar issues with the hopes of gaining support for their cause.

Martin Luther King has been dead for more than 40 years, but I am sure, were he alive today, he would be using a blog to define, educate, and recruit people into his cause.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Remembering Week Two

I started school at the University of Phoenix in September of 2006. The final assignment was a 700 word statement. Getting the words out was hard, but much harder were the citations. I spent what seemed like hours making sure I had every thing formatted correctly. It was painful. After writing many papers APA now feels like second nature and I am happy to report that the citations are the easy part. The research, however, has been brutal. I have many opinions about the topic I am writing about but finding people who agree with me and have data to back up their opinions has been difficult. In writing my paper, I have taken the strategy of just getting my thoughts out on paper. They do not sound right, in fact, many of them seem out of order, wordy, and confusing, but editing for me is a much easier than getting thoughts out on the page. Wait a minute, this is supposed to be about week two.

Okay, back on target. In all the papers I have done during my college career, I have never done an annotated bibliography, but I found the exercise very helpful in learning my research. I also found it helped a great deal in finding my research again when I need to reference it. The work load in this class has been very difficult, however, every single assignment has been an important stepping stone in the learning experience. I have really enjoyed that part of it.

I think this post was a bit of a ramble, but sometimes rambling is good, writing just to write feels good.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

English Rocks

I am not a wordsmith. I do not have a exceptionally strong understanding of the English language, but I do know English is one of the most versatile languages for writers. So many different words and phrases can be used to describe the same thing, each with a subtle difference that brings an incredible richness to this language. The Orwell essay, written more than 60 years ago, prompted some deep reflection about my own use of the language and how often I revert to taking the easy way, instead of taking the time to think and write.

I thought of an experience I had with a friend in discussing the writings of the founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Payne and Benjamin Franklin. They carefully chose words that would be firm and yet leave some room for future interpretation. Had they not mastered the English language would their writings have been so world changing? I don’t think they would have. Statements like “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” have become a solid foundation for American life and a dream for many others around the world..

In my spare time, when I have some, I like to write songs. About eight years ago I wrote a song for my daughter who at the time was not yet born. I have not done much with it since that time, but recently decided to revise, record, and add some videos of her growing up and give it to her for her birthday. I have a friend with some music writing experience so we decided to work together to arrange the song. During our first visit we worked only on words. He pushed me hard to determine exactly what I was trying to say and then to say it in a way that would flow and not be too wordy. We spent about 4 hours doing small edits and during the next week I spent another 3-4 hours working on my own to create words that would best tell my story to my daughter. It was exhausting work, but in the end, my song was clear, concise, and said just what I wanted it to. What is the point of this story? I learned that if I want to write well I have to be willing to spend the time to make it right and don’t give up on the first draft

Words, especially English words can be used to tell a powerful story that can create real emotion or take readers to a place across the universe. After reading Orwell’s work I have committed myself to use it to its full potential, or at least I will start the process of learning to do so.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Done for the Week

Whew!! I am finally done with this weeks assignments. I have to admit, when I was looking forward into the week I felt a bit overwhelmed, but spending time everyday working on the assignments helped a lot and now I am done, ready to start all over again.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Writing Assessment

After high school I decided to skip college and go right into the work force. Before I knew it I had a wife, two kids and a pretty good job. I had not really ever considered going back to school, in fact, I was quite proud of myself for being successful without a college degree. Four years ago I was having a discussion with my boss about my career path, goals, and where I hoped to be in five years. As our conversation progressed it became clear that at some time in the future I would hit the ‘can’t move past this point without a college degree’ ceiling, and therefore halt my progress. He said, “If you only had a college degree you could go as high as you want in this company.” That was enough for me. I decided at that moment that I would make the necessary sacrifice now, so I would not have to sacrifice a potential career opportunity in the future.

The actual degree I earn is not as important as simply having a degree, however, I wanted to get a credential that would give me as much versatility as possible, so I chose business management. My current position is sales director for our Sacramento office. I have six inside sales personnel and one admin that report to me. I looked at the classes that would be required for the degree and they seemed to fit in very well with what I was doing and what I may be asked to do in the future. Some of the classes I have taken have been Human-Resources, Accounting, Economics, both micro and macro, and most recently Leadership. I knew having a degree would help me in the future, what I did not count on was how much it would help me be a more effective employee and manager. The knowledge and skills I have learned have been invaluable in my career path today; I have not had to wait for the degree to appreciate its benefits.

Many people go to college right after high school to avoid many of the common distractions people face as they get older. I was not ready, and although having a family, a full-time job, and assignments at church can make free time rare, I am getting much more out of school now than I would have if I were younger. Waiting gave me a much broader perspective and has allowed me to augment my workforce experience with indispensable knowledge.