How should Grammar be taught?

As I am a student aspiring to be an English major and one day earn a degree in Creative writing, I guess I should have a voice and opinion on the matter of how grammar should be dealt with, especially with how it should be taught. (Author note to self: Okay, that’s stereotyping man! Just because I want to have a degree that says I can write good doesn’t mean I have to have an opinion on anything about writing…) Anyway, let’s talk about grammar.

In my experience with grammar growing up, I hated it. I’ve mentioned it in previous blogs, so I see no point in going to grand details on the matter, but suffice to say that I hated English and reading as an adolescent and found it all pointless and/or a waste of time. Nowadays I do see an importance it, but I also feel that part of why one learns the rules of English is to learn how they can break those rules to create an impact on their audience; alas, I’m kind of getting ahead of myself.

As a student now, I don’t know if there should a set-in-stone way for writing, as I myself am still learning the importance of grammar. However, I do believe that there should be multiple ways to approach grammar and writing and that when it comes to revising and helping others with their writing, that it is easier to help another when they at least have something for me to evaluate (versus trying to help them stay grammatically correct as they write).

See, in my experience of being a writing consultant at my previous college (Centralia College), one of the major issues I felt that occurred with students was that many were so focused on having their grammar correct for the first time that it would take them hours upon hours, just to write a 2 page paper. I’m not kidding, there was one time I sat down with a student to help them with a paper, and because she was trying to keep the piece grammatical throughout the entire piece as she wrote, she struggled with getting the content which she wished to have in her paper there. And this wasn’t an issue with just this one student, it was an issue with many students. However, something that I saw that helped these students as I spent the quarter helping some of these students with their issues, was that I kept drilling into them that they should just try to get their ideas on the paper and worry about grammar last. What happened in some cases (I cannot say all, some people really are just different and have to do things their way), is that these writers were able to start getting their ideas out first at a faster pace, and then revise afterwards (both personally and through the writing center I worked at), and in the end, most of the writers were able to improve; and I believe this is because they were able to get their ideas out on paper first and because they didn’t spend each moment worrying about grammar.

I guess the point I am saying when it comes to teaching grammar, is that while it is important, I believe it should come second to content and that after a first draft, a writer should then shift their focus on making it grammatically correct; and that is where they can learn how to improve their writing.

Other places I have seen writing improve through the placing of content over grammatical rules first and foremost is in my friendships with random strangers across the world who try speaking English, and in my own life actually. The reason I actually started to find any value in grammar was because I started writing stories and drawing pictures (basically I was making a personal comic book and I think I’ve mentioned this story before); but the point here that I wish to make is that had I focused on the grammar last because I just wanted to write a story, and it was after I had written the story that I realized “Holy crap, this is a cool story, and I want it to make sense for my friends… I guess grammar is important huh?”
. . . Okay, so it wasn’t quite a thought like that, it was definitely more gradual. But like I said, content first, grammar second; that’s how I believe it should be taught.

Side note: Of course during the early grades of education where one is trying to teach children how to even write, yes, grammar is important. But not grammar to the university or college levels of academia.

Advertisements

Stop looking away.

I sometimes wonder if I am a ghost. No one looks me in the eyes. Well, a few people do, but only seconds before they turn and look away. “Is something wrong with me?” I wonder as I look myself over. Maybe I have I got syrup or ketchup on my shirt from breakfast, or my zipper is down. Is there something on my face? I don’t feel anything… I’ll brush it off just to be sure; nothing. Did I forget to comb my hair? No… I did that ten minutes ago. Why does no one notice me?

I don’t want to be the center of attention.

But I’ve spoken roughly 200 words this afternoon. A third of them to myself, another third to my roommate. A sixth of those words went to the waitress at Lucky Fortune, a Chinese restaurant several blocks from campus; she gets paid to see me. I went to the cafeteria this evening and spoke another sixth of my words trying to say hello to faces I know from different classes; nobody notices (except Kyler, who said hello as he walked out of the cafeteria, so shout-out to him). Everyone just turns their faces. I eat alone in silence, as I look around the room for somebody.

I am not the center of attention…

I am the center of inattention.


 

You may or may not want to disregard what is written above, it doesn’t matter too much. I’ve got an annoyance with the world right now, and it’s the modern behavior of looking away.

I don’t know where it came from and when it came to be… but for hell’s sake, why does everyone avoid looking at other people? Twenty yards down the bridge, you were looking forward, but as soon as you and I looked at each other, boom, your neck turned left like you’d been punched by a professional boxer! If your neck were like an owl, you’d try spinning it the opposite direction of me. It’s so freaking obvious you don’t want to see me. And I’m well aware that this isn’t the first time you’ve looked away, and I also know that you’re just looking into space! I know you sit a couple rows back behind me in one of my classes. We’ve even interacted before! And I know I didn’t do anything that made you believe that I’m suddenly the anti-christ, so what gives? Am I really that undesirable? Why the hell do you look away from me as though by doing so, I’ll suddenly poof out of existence, and that it’s something desirable?

You might say “Well you’re not my friend, and it feels awkward looking at a stranger.” Well jeez, maybe we could be friends IF you actually looked at me and said hello, instead of making a wall between us that would make Donald Trump proud. Maybe all we do is say hello to each other and then walk our own ways; I’d honestly be fine with that. However, when you make it so obvious you don’t even want to see me or try being friends, it honestly feels like you’re saying “Go stop existing.”

What annoys me most about this whole modern behavior of looking away is that almost everyone does this. It isn’t just one person, it’s a lot of people, and when a lot of people just choose to ignore you, it just feels crappy.


 

I don’t know where that leaves this blog really. Mainly I just wanted to write about my annoyance with that behavior, and now that I have, I don’t really have much else to say on the matter. So to end this blog on a higher note than saying people make me feel like crap, here’s a picture of my character Aufnaher that I got to draw in my free time last week!meh-arms-behind-my-back

A week with a phone and I’ve become lazy

Now that I have that last blog finished, let’s get to a fun announcement! I have a cell phone!

… Now I know, that probably sounds like a silly comment, especially to make the focus of a blog. “So what? Everybody has a phone, why is it so special that Anchor has a phone?”

Well, for 19, almost 20 years, I’ve gone without having a phone. Why? Because I hate phones and have known that as soon as I get one, I’d get addicted to spending too much time on it… Especially if it were a smartphone…

And now I happen to have a smartphone…

And I happen to be spending too much time on it…

And I hate my phone.

Why did I get a phone, and a smartphone at that, if I know I would hate it? Well, because the phone was free, and because Facebook sadly is inadequate to keep in touch with family. That seriously is the only reason I chose to get the phone… But now, I am being sucked downward into a black hole of perpetual internet checks and procrastination it seems, all because I have this beautiful piece of technology that keeps me well connected with the world.

I miss being disconnected from the world. I miss having an excuse to say “Sorry, I can’t get a hold of you, I don’t have a phone.” I miss being free of iFUNNY and Imgur, where I spend too much time looking at dank memes. I miss being free to look up and observe those around me.

Alas, now that I have a phone, I feel this compulsion almost every second to check, because maybe somebody sent me a message, or maybe there’s a new thing to see online. It’s a quick addiction, and I hate it. It wastes time, yet I need it now…

So yeah, I have a phone now, and I’m in a love/hate relationship with it. It gives me good laughs, but at the cost of time that could and should be used elsewhere.

Does my gender influence my writing?

Great blog title, I know; totally isn’t cringe worthy or like something a tri-gendered demi-asexual pan-romantic otherkin from tumblr would post… *Heavy sarcasm is heavy*

In all seriousness, I feel I need to preface that the reason why I write this blog is because it’s assigned. Additionally, because I’m the kind of person who hates having to discuss gender and its influences on things, especially when I have to specifically talk about mine, there is a high probability that I’ll be pretty snarky, sarcastic, and probably come off as a total douche canoe.

So, the short answer to the question of “Does my gender influence my writing?” is yes.
.
. .
. . . And no.

To elaborate, I believe everything in every person’s life influences who they are, how they view the world, and how they interact with the world that they view. Furthermore, I am of a similar mindset to that of B.F. Skinner, in his views of behaviorism and operant conditioning, which put simply, is the belief that every time somebody does something and is rewarded, they continue that behavior; while adversely, if somebody does an action and is punished for that behavior, that reduces the probability of that action reoccurring (of course there’s more detail to his theory, but I won’t go into all of it).
Basically, I believe that everything that is in my environment affects me, and my responses in my environment affect me depending on the result of those actions (positive results or negative results), resulting in changes to my future actions, behaviors, and mindset (and this is how it has also worked in the past, resulting in my current actions, behaviors, and mindset). As such, as my gender is male and I have had positive results of identifying as a male because my sex is male, I continue acting male and following the stereotypes of being male (somewhat… but I’ll get into that later). And because I am a believer that writing reflects the author’s life and worldview, and overall is just a portrait of the author metaphorically speaking, my being a male does indeed affect my writing.

However, to counter my own point, I also believe that my being male does not have any impact or influence on my writing; or at least, not an impact that is massively intentional. There are a few points to this, so forgive me if this sounds confuddled a bit.

First, what I mean by this is that I write with and for different inspirations than my gender, and I try my best to keep my writing original and inspired by other things that I love and enjoy. I don’t write for the intention that I am a male and have never written something a certain way because I am a male. On the contrary, part of why I write is because I don’t fit all too well with the standard idea (or at least the stereotyped idea) of men in the articles read for the class.

This leads me to my second point, which is that growing up, I had a more heavy influence of females in my life than men. Both my grandma and mother have been major influences on my character and personality, and they are often times the people I go to for advice. In the education system, I honestly didn’t fit in all too much with other guys, and I actually hung out with girls more than guys, especially in high school. And once I inevitably got a job, for the first few months of my job, I was the only male. Most of my best friends are female, most of the people I look up to as my idols and most of my role models are female. The point I’m basically trying to make is that I have probably been more influenced by the opposite gender than my own, and as such, feel my own gender has a lack of influence on my writing. Thusly, I believe my gender doesn’t influence my writing, at least to any major degree.

Thirdly, I believe in free will, and as such, if I say that I choose to not let my gender identify my writing, I won’t. And that’s that.

I’m going to end this blog here, because I really just want this reflection to be over. Like I prefaced with, I dislike talking about influences of gender… But to summarize all of what I said, basically my gender influences my writing to some degree, but not too much really.

 

Someone who has influenced my writing

Per this week’s assigned blog topic, today’s writing will be about someone who has influenced my writing. This is an interesting question in my opinion, mainly because I feel that almost everyone I know has influenced my writing in one way or another, ranging from authors whose stories I’ve read to random strangers who I’ve only met once and had been forced to interact with. As such, it is difficult to name just one person who has influenced my writing to a degree to a major degree that I’d write a whole blog post in honor of them.

However, with that being said, there is one person who I feel has influenced my writing quite a bit that does deserve the honor of being written about, and that would be my mother.

My mother is no great author or writer. A matter of fact, she didn’t even go to college (though she is probably more educated in grammatical concepts and ideas than I am). She merely is just a mother and a great one at that.

So how has she been one the greater influences to my writing then? Well, there are multiple parts that factor into my response, but to keep things brief, I’ll break it down into two main points: being homeschooled, and having similar interests.

As I was homeschooled, my mother was the one who taught me to write for most of my life up till high school. Because of this, she is the one who helped me simply begin learning how to use words and write them (though while growing up, I was pretty reluctant to use them; as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I didn’t like English then). The odd thing I find funny as I look back on this, is that my writing voice is very different from my mothers, and is more similar to my fathers, though it is different from even his writing voice; so while I learned writing from my parents and specifically from my mother, my voice somehow ended up quite different from hers. But I’ve digressed somewhat…

The other aspect of my mother’s influence is our similar interests. See, I love fantasy stories, and I also love science fiction stories. And these were things that my mother loved while I grew up. Chances are that the reason I fell in love with these forms of fiction and stories was because of my mother, because by the age of 6, I was watching shows like Stargate, playing games like Halo or Elder Scrolls, and so on. I was engrossed in the world of fables and otherworldly ideas, and these are the things that inspire me to be a writer today. In other words, my love for these things influence my writing and my desire to one day be a novelist, and it is because of my mother that I fell in love with these things that influence me.

Thus, my mother is one of those few people who has influenced my writing enough that I feel I can write about her in this blog.

My experience in sharing writing…

Putting my last blog (which is totally full of extreme late teenage angst and sleep deprivation) in the past, this blog will be talking about my experience in sharing writing with others.

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of sharing my writing with others. I’m aware of the benefits of sharing writing one’s writing with others in order to improve; a matter of fact, the job that I had for a year and a half before transferring to GFU was working as a writing consultant who reviewed and looked at other’s writing to help them improve. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it feels awkward having to share my writing with others.

I’ve never been part of writing groups, where my writing is passed around from one person to the next (at least till I started attending GFU). I have, however, done one-on-one peer review with fellow students in class, as well as the previously mentioned work as a writing consultant.

One of the difficulties for me when it comes to sharing my written work with others is that I know I write in a unique style (or so I’m told), which, for the most part, doesn’t match up with how some believe writing should be done. It’s been something that has baffled some of my previous English teachers and professors, because while I might phrase some sentences oddly, they can be technically correct; in other terms, I just phrase things differently at times, and I’m aware of that. However, my fear whenever I share my writing is that people will critique most of my writing style purely due to its oddity. Granted, if my point isn’t coming across in my writing, I’m thankful to know that so that I can rephrase my writing, but it just makes sharing my writing my difficult when I know somebody might not like it for reasons of style not matching.

That being said, something I am well aware of all the benefits that come from others reviewing a piece of writing, and despite this difficulty I feel, I have complete faith in the writing process and having one’s work reviewed by others, even by others outside of the intended audience. Anyone can give input on an idea, whether it is good or bad input is up to the author to determine really, which is how I at least approached the writing groups that I’ve had to meet with here at GFU.

In meeting with my writing group for my studies in writing class, I would deem the group meeting a success, though they told me things I kind of already know about my paper. Specifically, that my paper kind of sucked (though they phrased it a lot nicer). It showed in my grade that it wasn’t that good of paper, though I’m sure that without the advice they gave, that paper would have been total trash, so I’m completely thankful for the input they gave (because I really was feeling kind of swamped looking at that paper; probably should have rewritten it entirely). All the same, while it was insightful and I was aware that my paper was crap, it still felt somewhat miserable having my paper ripped to shreds by others. This is mainly because I’m worried that since this paper is the only thing they have to know my writing by, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that they might even be thinking I’m a complete and total idiot.

Anyway, after my experience with my writing group, I feel like I want to make sure that all my writing is the best that it can ever be in my eyes before sharing it with others, that way they can see the best that I’ve got, rather than a crappy first draft essay that was rushed due to time constraints in my others classes.

With that all being said, while it is tough to remember to not take things personally when people critique my writing, I really do believe writing groups and having other’s review one’s papers is a very important process to help one improve their writing. Something that I know I need to grow in is accepting people’s opinions of my writing because I do know it’s just a matter of them giving their opinions and thoughts, not that they’re trying to destroy my writing or tell me I suck and should give up on my goals.

With that all being said, I end this blog post with an inspiring cat poster because why the heck not?

50555641ecdc038d85f7300d35df2cc4

An honest and rambled blog: Why am I even here?

*Author Note* To preface, as the title says, this blog is kind of honest and rambled… and because of that, I’m not too sure how much of it will make sense to you the reader. All the same, I just felt like I writing my current thoughts and feelings right now, as that is what is on my mind at this moment.

Why am I even here? I’ve been asking this question of myself almost every day since I moved out of my lifelong home to start attending George Fox University. Of course, in all honesty, there have been a couple curse and swear words added a few times around when I’ve asked this question. Why am I even here?

The simple response is an easy one, I’m here to get an English Degree, hopefully majoring in Creative Writing.

Of course, it’s a lot more complex than that…

The choice: Why English?

If I had a time machine and went into the past 10 years, and told myself that this was my current goal, little 9-year-old Anchor would kick me in the shin, call me a creepy weirdo, and a liar, because I would never aim for anything like that. Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but he’d do something similar to that.

Growing up, I hated English. It was my least favorite subject from first grade, all the way to my first year of high school. I found the technicalities annoying, difficult, and even ridiculous at points (and at times, I still think this). I wasn’t a fan of literature either, though to continue with the full blown honesty, I’m still not the hugest fan of literature.

 

So what changed? Well, creative writing is what changed everything. Whenever my parents tried getting me to read some book, I would always tell them that I didn’t want to read some crummy book about somebody else’s story; if I wanted a story, I could make my own (or watch a movie or play a game). Of course, my parents disagreed with me on this point through most of my elementary years. However, it was in High school that I decided to take a creative writing class and tried writing a story… and it was then that I fell in love with writing, at least at the hobby level.

Jump forward a few years, and I was in college. I wasn’t sure why I was going to college, mainly because I was undetermined as to what I wanted to do with my life. To make the long story short, I took English classes and somehow was deemed good enough to land myself a job working on campus as a consultant who reviewed and aided students with papers. After getting the job, I took an assortment of classes from different professors in the English department and had even become friends with a few of the professors there (which honestly is one of my biggest takeaways from attending Centralia College in my opinion). It was through helping other students with their papers, however, and taking these other courses from the different professors at Centralia, along with my passion for writing stories, that drove me to choose an English degree with a focus in Creative Writing as my major.

———————————–

Sounds pretty nice, except that begs the question: if I know why I chose an English degree as my major, focused on creative writing, why am I questioning my choice of being here?

I question it because of three things mainly: Missing home and friends, everyone around me is extremely smart, and that I could just write the stories I want instead of taking classes.

Missing Home and Friends

I’m sure this is a commonly shared feeling that plenty of other students who have moved away from home to attend college are feeling, so I won’t go into detail on it. But what bugs me is that all the people I looked to for encouragement, advice, kinship, enjoyment, and so on, are not here. I know it’ll get better over the course of time, but that doesn’t change the fact that I feel like a cripple with no crutches or any form of support right now. Back at home, if I had any issues, I had a plethora of people I could go to for advice, opinions, and comfort, but here, I’ve got none of that.

Everyone around me is extremely smart

First off, this isn’t to say that people from where I lived a few months weren’t smart… but not everyone was smart

As I said earlier, the technicalities of English have been something I grew up hating, and today, while I am still not the hugest fan of them, I know them… kind of…  When I look at a piece of writing, if something is wrong with it, I can kind of just see the errors to the piece, though I couldn’t give the technical definition of what is wrong. However, everyone around me here at GFU seems to know these technical definitions, terms, structures, concepts and ideas and can articulate these thoughts in elegant manners with simplicity.

I’m well aware that I am here to learn. I am aware that I’m not supposed to know everything in the field that I am aspiring for because I am here to learn that information. All the same, it just makes me feel out of place at times when everyone around me seems to be smarter or better at everything that I aim to do.

I could just write the stories I want… 

I could just be at home, surrounded by the people I love who in turn love me, and write the stories I want… I know it isn’t the best life choice by any means, but I could be doing what I want to do right now. I could be writing that book I’ve wanted to write since I was 15, but have never found the time for because I’ve been busy with my education and attempting to be my best. I could start that children’s book idea that I thought of when my oldest brother and his wife told everybody that they were going to have a kid. I could get together with my friends who also want to write stories and build worlds.

But I chose to be here instead. I chose to be here.

So TL;DR answer, Why am I even here?

Here’s the kicker, you the reader might be expecting some conclusion of epic proportion, or with some thought provoking idea that is inspiring, saying how I have or am going to resolve this question that I’ve asked myself the last month. Yeah, there are things I wish were different and were like home… I wish I was home right now. But despite those reasons, I have no answer to why I’m here. None that I can give that is bigger than wanting to learn and get a degree.

The truth is that I’m writing  this blog because I wanted to get my thoughts out somewhere, kind of along the lines of the Greek idea of catharsis. And really, that’s all I’ve got to say about this subject now, cause I have nothing more to say or add or think about, at least that I wish to have published on the internet forever.