Friday Dialogue from
Your Two Favorite Educators
As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to assess their innermost feelings about helping students writing analysis.
How would you describe yourself as a writer in high school?
Aubrey: Dramatic. I was very overwrought and used lots of adverbs. There is this paper that I wrote over Faulkner’s Light in August that I keep in the bottom desk drawer of my desk at school. It is the worst paper I have ever read. It is probably the worst thing I have ever written either. And I’ve read a lot of bad papers, things like AP essays that make up fake professors with fake research. This far surpasses the badness of all of those and is primarily a result of me trying to use big vocabulary and I was trying to make my sentences as complicated and emphatic as possible.
Emily: I was madly in love with a boy in high school and that seemed to find its way into everything I wrote. I very distinctly remember a piece I wrote for DJ Nell, the best English teacher to live, with the directions to write a narrative. I wrote about my boyfriend coming around the corner as a big hulking specimen of a man (you know you love the allusion, Gatsby lovers). I constantly remark now at how embarrassed I am of the person I was in high school. It is amazing I turned out halfway normal after high school. And, yes, I realize I am running a big risk with my students who read this blog for admitting this narrative topic. I’ve learned to accept and embrace my flaws as a 17-year-old!
I argue that developing analysis in writing is the hardest thing for students to do. What is their “go to” strategy they employ because it’s the easiest?
Aubrey: They are very good at using rhetorical questions. Really terrible rhetorical questions. They also spend a lot of their time using phrases/words like “throughout history” or “epic” when I’m not sure they even understand what those mean.
Emily: I want to throw up every time I see a quotation as an opener to an essay. It never fails. Students think it is engaging their readers and insightful when, in reality, it is just copying someone’s else genius idea to trick their readers into reading. Jokes on the students though…all it does is signal they have to rely on someone else’s ideas to write an engaging piece of literature!
This week I introduced my “Add the Commentary” exercise. To practice what I preach, I would like you, Aubrey, to add the commentary to the following example:
Claim: Lindsay Lohan is a bit hot mess.
Evidence: Lohan has not completed any of her required community service and as a result is now required to complete her hours in the morgue.
Aubrey’s Commentary: Clearly, Lohan is struggling to meet the expectations of her parole agreement. However, it seems as if ending up with “morgue” duty is indicative of a larger problem. First, it isn’t clear how this forces her to interact with people in a meaningful way. Second, it seems to send a message about morgues that flies in the face of what CSI: Las Vegas teaches. Regardless of these two large issues, Lohan is still, if nothing else, a complete disaster. Any person who uses fingernail polish to send inappropriate messages, steals jewelry and forgets to wear underpants is truly has no shame.
Emily: What do I say to that. First, you wrote the word “underpants.” Hysterical. Okay, I’ll take a stab at it but know my commentary cannot hold a flame.
Emily’s Commentary: Lindsey Lohan’s transfer to the morgue signals a move of intolerance against idiocy. If Lohan weren’t so dumb, she could actually avoid the whole scenario of jail/no jail that she is currently facing. Let Lindsey Lohan serve as an example to America’s youth that you can weasel your way through situations, but, eventually, the man will always win.