Assignment #1

I have decided that I officially hate Allyn and Bacon’s “problematic and significant” question and Brief Writing Project #1 from our book. There are several problems with them. One is the definition of “problematic and significant,” which I’m not sure I fully understand from having read Chapter 1 multiple times. I’ve tried to put it into terms that my students can understand (problematic = debatable, not easily answerable; significant = something your readers will care about), but that doesn’t seem to have worked 100%. Based on the results of this first writing exercise, I would say that about 60-70% of my students are getting it, and the rest either need significant help with writing to begin with or just didn’t follow. I got one student who argued that the question he had posed was problematic because it had no answer, which is not really the same thing as not having an easy answer.

Another problem I’m having is that beginning with a significant and problematic question isn’t really where I begin my writing process. I may begin with a significant issue, which I develop into a thesis, but I don’t feel that it’s necessary to have defined a question before you can begin writing.

In grading, the worst is the one or two students who are posing giant moral questions like, “Will everyone ever be equal?” I’m trying to come up with the right language to answer them, which for now is that these moral questions or questions of conscience exist apart from the problematic/significant characteristics that we’ve been considering.

I’m thinking that next semester I’ll come up with my own exercises for Chapter 1 that won’t involve this particular BWE. This seems like a clear place where it’s necessary to step away from the AB Guide and perhaps use Chapter 1 as a place for introduction to freewriting techniques, brainstorming, outlining, etc.

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