English & Communication

In the first chapter of Toward a Composition Made Whole, Shipka discusses the debate on the role of the first year English class. I believe that the typical freshman English class tends to be static and does not strive to be relevant. Most of these classes tend to be linear and abandon the need for a dynamic communicative approach. Shipka continues by referring to a paper written by Harold Briggs called “College Programs in Communication as Viewed by an English Teacher.” In this paper Briggs warns readers that “the traditional mind is always a closed mind.” I disagree with this bold and generalized statement, but I do agree with Briggs that a teacher of communication needs to have an open and receptive mind. Come to think of it, I believe every teacher should have an open and receptive mind. If a teacher has a closed mind, he or she is teaching what has been previously known and are choosing to neglect the array of new information that becomes available every single day.

Another point that Shipka touches on is the need for a more broad approach to writing and communication. The major that I am studying for my undergraduate degree is called Visual Communication Design (VCD). Although it is often referred to as Graphic Design, VCD is intentional about developing every students ability to visually communicate, relate, and persuade. Communication should be viewed as a tool that has the ability to present and exchange ideas and information. I think that VCD is a great example of one of the tools that is being overlooked by the traditional first year English classes. By abandoning the use of visual, audio, and other multimodal communication tools, teachers are limiting their students education instead of broadening it.

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Bridging the Gap

After reading the first few pages of Jody Shipka’s Toward a Composition Made Whole, I already felt like there were a handful of things I wanted to write about. In the introduction Shipka discusses the role that multimodal teaching and learning plays in our everyday lives. I am taking a Writing & Digital Media class this semester and we are also discussing the potential multimodal education has. I have only been enrolled in this class for a week, and have only read the first few pages of Toward a Composition Made Whole, but I am already starting to realize just how hesitant I am to change my preconceived notions of what education is.

In the introduction Shipka also discusses efforts to bridge the gap between students’ curricular and extracurricular literacy. I believe that branching out and pushing the boundaries of education will create more effective teaching and learning. However, in my classes that are using many different forms of education, I sometimes struggle keeping track of and fully utilizing all of the tools I have been given. I have become accustomed to having no more than two or three educational “tools” (such as my professor, textbook, and other miscellaneous readings) for each of my classes, so adding more modes of education to this is going to take some adjusting to. I think that, if I am able to adjust to this type of learning that is new to me, I will be able to better incorporate and intertwine my curricular and extracurricular life.

I have noticed that, although I did not automatically accept or instantaneously feel comfortable with increasing the types and amount of learning tools, I am already starting to combine and incorporate what I am learning in each of my classes (this is a start, right?). As I am reading Shipka’s text for Writing & Digital Media, I am making notes in my sketchbook for my Graphic Design class on what defines a composition, and about the significance of the process that goes into creating a composition. As I continue reading, I am hoping that Shipka will continue to provide insight on how to incorporate all of the education I am receiving and apply it in my academic and everyday life.

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The Scared is Scared

In class, we talked about our Digital Narrative projects. Our homework assignment was to watch some narratives on Vimeo and YouTube. I came across one called The Scared is Scared, and it is such a unique story! The film maker asked a six year old what her narrative should be about, and she filmed the shots after the child’s story was developed. I think it’s such a creative way to make a short film and I definitely recommend watching it!

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A Response To Jody Shipka’s Toward A Composition Made Whole

The first chapter of Jody Shipka’s Toward A Composition Made Whole opens up many questions about not only what is composition, but how it plays a key role in our everyday lives.  Shipka does a great job explaining how composition has evolved from penning thoughts on to paper simply for the enjoyment of writing to extensive projects that include not just writing, but research, visual design, and much more.

In her introduction, Shipka talks about the importance of bridging together the curricular and extracurricular uses of multimedia and composition.  At one point, she wonders about the potential of students if they were to put as much time into their school work as they did into Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.  This is an interesting point for Shipka to bring up, as it applies directly to our Writing & Digital Media class.  After the reading, I am anticipating that this class will provide students with ways to make their time online more useful.

Another part of Shipka’s book that I found intriguing was her analysis of determining if a writer is “good” or not.  The conclusion she seemed to come to was that, other than grouping writers by genre, there really is no way to determine how good or bad a writer is. Why? Because it all depends on the reader. For example, someone who enjoys reading fluffy romances by Nicholas Sparks may not enjoy horror, sci-fi novels by Stephen King.  Or a person who loves Stephen King and his sci-fi novels may not think a heralded sports writer like Rick Reilly is a good writer.  However, if you were to group writers by genre, it is much easier to determine what is “good”.  For example, Dan Brown and James Patterson are some of the best when it comes to thriller genre.

In regards to the language that Shipka uses, I thought it was maddening to read, especially from a person who is an expert on composition and rhetoric.  Then again, I am a student reading a book written for professors.

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