My Final Reflection Letter

Dear Professor Cook and UWRT 1103 Peers,

I am writing this letter to you as a conclusion to completing the UWRT 1103 course this semester. As I enter in to unraveling how I have developed as a writer, I will share with you some past moments that have impacted my journey. When I look back on these moments now, I can see how I have grown as a writer and that my views have further developed and expanded on the given subjects. My development, like writing is progressive and contextual. I have realized and acknowledged more about writing in this past semester than I have in my entire life with my writing experiences.

The first moment this semester that had significant meaning to it, was when we as a class evaluated literacy. We talked about what it means to be literate, what literacies in writing are, and how the terminology and definition may be evolving to suit our given place in time. Almost everyone in our county these days is by definition “literate”, so how might we expand upon that definition now to reflect today’s society? Well, originally when I asked myself this question in class I decided that my understanding of being literate meant, “to be able to read and write well and with proper technique”. After reflecting back on this moment I still agree with this more in depth definition, but I also want to expand upon it. After analyzing all that it means to be literate and applying it to my experience throughout this course, I realize that being literate is more understanding what good writing is and how to be a good writer, rather than something as narrowed as following technique or format. I consider myself to be more literate now than I ever have been; I believe literacy is progressive. To apply this concept to my life and writing, I would say that understanding what it means to be literate, is growing and developing my writing in such a way that I will always strive to be more literate. Now that I have this new understanding of literacy I can apply it to my writing and work towards a goal of mastering literacy. I now perceive literacy as something personal to each writer and each writer has their own level of literacy of which they hope to achieve.

The next moment that really made an impact on my development as a writer was when context became a topic of in-depth discussion. Before talking about context and what it meant in terms of writing, I never really thought twice about it. I always viewed context as something that pertained to vocabulary being interpreted in a sentence. I never saw the bigger picture that context aids in developing. When I think back to when context was first explained in class and in terms of literacy, the understanding I formed was “literacies are contextual, and context is interpretation”. I remember thinking to myself that context really just meant the situation or position of what was being written and how the readers perceive it. I have come so far since that first initial understanding and have really embraced the meaning of that statement. My biggest new understanding of context is that, it is something that should be mutual between the reader and the writer. The context of which something is being written should ultimately be the same for which it is being read. Or maybe the reason someone is reading the piece isn’t the same reason for why it was written, it may just be a requirement, but that’s where the word interpretation plays a major role. The writer’s context should always be the reader’s interpretation. If something was written with intended purpose, the context should be the framework by which that purpose is articulated and interpreted. After analyzing context and forming this new understanding I have applied it to my writing and will continue to take it into account every time I write. Context is so important and is the difference between just reading, and really understanding a piece of writing. I will continue to work on improving my use and presentation of context in every piece of writing I develop.

The last moment significant to my development as a writer this semester, was when we talked about genre. For so long I had always thought about genre as a title or category for a specific type of writing, movie, or song. It wasn’t until our group discussion one day in class, that I was enlightened on the real meaning and context of genre in writing. There are a lot of different ways genre can be looked at in writing. Most people think of genre as a “type”. Well they aren’t completely wrong because genre can be a type, but instead of it being looked at as solely descriptive, it can also be viewed as its own thing or way of doing something. A genre is its own unlimited descriptor of other things. When I came to this understanding, in that moment, I remember thinking to myself, “but how is genre a thing?” It wasn’t really until completing my group facilitation project, doing research, and making connections of my own, that I fully grasped this concept of genre. Even now I still believe that genre can be viewed in a couple of different ways, there really is no set definition. If there was one thing I learned about genre after analyzing this moment and forming this new understanding, it’s that genre is very commonly misunderstood and overlooked. Often times we don’t consider the genre for which we are writing or forming, we just write and then try to match our writing to a given genre or category. What I have come to realize is that genre is actually its own production. It develops and evolves throughout ones writing and can sometimes work to contradict itself. What I’ve come to realize is most important when analyzing genre, is simply to remember it is not a type of category that shapes writing; but rather it presents a new form of which to classify writing and all of its attributes. Genre works to present both understanding and question. After developing this new understanding of genre I have realized that our typical misconstrued definition of genre actually limits our writing; and if we have this set “genre” in mind to which we are trying to fit our writing into, we are only restricting the potential of our work. Now that I have come to understand genre in this new and unlimited way, I can apply it to my writing by working to create and form new uses for genre, and challenge myself and my readers, through uses of this commonly overlooked concept. Genre will always be an influential aspect of writing and should never be overlooked or misinterpreted as this common definition of it being a category. My goal as a writer is to keep investigating all aspects of genre, and try to further understand its importance and usefulness in my writing.

Overall this course has taught me a lot about myself as a writer and bettered my understanding of what it takes to be a good writer. After reflecting back on these very pivotal moments throughout the semester it is my understanding that writing has no limits, only guidelines to help making a piece of writing easier to understand and interpret the way it was intended to be. Things like literacy, context, and genre are only but a few of the important components that make up great writing. It is my goal to continue to develop my writing skills through better understanding of these concepts.

Understanding Literacies

When it comes to understanding literacies, there are many aspects to writing and interpretation along with discourse communities and what swale’s has to say. I am still a little confused about the whole concept and fully understanding literacies and discourse communities. If there were one thing swale’s says that pertains to understanding literacies in todays generation its that discourse communities are heavily influenced by a persons specific level and acuteness of literacy.

Understanding of Schooled Literacy and Gatekeepers

At the start of this blog prompt, we were given a definition of a gatekeeper. A gatekeeper is defined as something or someone “used to signify either a person or force that creates protocols for entry into physical or abstract space.” To me, I was a bit confused by this definition especially because I have never heard this term used in context of writing. I have come to find that often in this course we are relating terms not typically thought to be related to writing, to our writing and inquiry pieces. After Addressing the chapter of The Elements of Literacy and evaluating the different perspectives on literacy and how it is used in context of education and schooling, It is clear that literacy can mean many more things than most people may think. When left open to interpretation and context, there really is no exact definition. This is something that can be used to address the five paragraph essay. After reading he Five-Paragraph Essay and the Deficit Model of Education by Lil Brannon, I felt enlightened that there has actually been something of renowned and legitimate writing that supports the negative impact of writing curriculum based off of the five paragraph essay. In this she talks about how this style of writing is hardly a style at all and hurts more than helps anyone who is originally taught this way. One main reason for this is because is real life no one actually writes this way or is able to properly articulate a good piece of writing while being limited to this format. Due to the fact that this is unnecessary and incorrect, we as our own gatekeepers must take matters into our own hands my gate keeping our minds from this wrong information.

It is important to keep in mind that we have the ultimate control over ourselves even if we are forced to write in this manner. We must allow ourselves to fulfill this task because of its appropriateness in context of requirement for our class but then we must do away with the understanding that this is the “proper” way to write. Another article, Teaching as Un-teaching backs this opinion of the five paragraph essay and also addresses the important point that students are literally having to work harder and undo what has been done in their minds and understandings of writing because of misgiven information about how they should write. They are being taught one set way to write and like said in the article Teaching as Un-teaching, this will not always be the type of writing needed in the future.Schooled literacy overlooks the fact that writing is limitless, or at least it should be. Limits may need to be put in place in context of providing a specific or more narrowed point in your piece of writing. However, though there are limits, what the limits are will most likely be different for every bit of writing you do throughout your life, and that is what the five paragraph essay lacks to inform.

Two more articles that can be addressed in this new understanding of literacy and gatekeepers are Deficit Model of Education, and Blaze’s Experience. After reading through both of these articles, I found many other supporting point of the negativity impact of the five paragraph essay and how it relates to the struggle of teaching as un-teaching. To bring all of what I have come to learn through these reading and my personal experience in this class I have come to raise the question, how can we become better gatekeepers of our own minds, and how do we become as literate as we can when the schooled literacy we are being taught from such a young age could actually be considered illiterate? This is something I hope is addressed and further looked into in hopes to change the government regulated state-wide writing curriculums.