Since I'm meeting with the school's personnel committee tomorrow (remember, I'm applying for a job teaching writing), I thought I'd dig out some of my old notes from grad school, just to jog my brain a bit in what I've learned about the teaching of writing. It was a very beneficial activity. I laughed until midnight. I didn't like many of the exercises in the textbook (they were too humorlessly politically correct), so I'd made up a bunch of my own. I'll shed modesty for a moment and say that some of my exercises were laugh-out-loud silly.
At LSU, all new teaching assistants (TAs) had to take a semester-long practicum called "Analysis and Evaluation of Expository Writing." Other classes were for the reading of theory; this one was hands-on. Not only did we learn to write goals and lesson plans, run a well-organized class, and assign and grade papers, but we got to work through some of the very exercises that we'd assign our freshmen.
One such exercise was The Apple Exercise, which focused on teaching the student to use vivid descriptions in writing.
We were all assigned to get an apple (Red Delicious variety) and write a short description of it. We all brought our apples to class and put them in a big pile on a table in the middle of the room. Then, we each read our descriptions to the class ... and the class had to select our respective apples from the twenty-odd other apples on the table.
My apple description was buried in all of my practicum notes. Here's what I wrote:
As I traveled the long, bumpy journey from Washington to the Perkins Road Bet-R in Baton Rouge, I was feeling pretty blue. I know it sounds strange that a bright, shiny, red-and-yellow apple like me should feel blue, but consider my circumstances: I had been prematurely wrenched from my apple tree mother, and the other apples made fun of me because I was smaller, harder, and more lopsided than the rest of them. They laughed at the garish yellow streak that runs diagonally up my side, and they humiliated me further by tattooing it with five tiny black dots. They ridiculed the faint yellow check mark to the left of that yellow streak, and they made fun of the little hole between the two yellow marks, where a tiny bug had chewed its way into me. They opined that the yellow marks close to my stem are even more offensive than my other blemishes.
So, there it is. No use writing immortal words about an apple if no one gets to read it. So I've blogged these immortal words to be read by all. Hee hee.
Now, back to the wonderful world of technical writing. I'd rather write things from the point of view of an apple. Wouldn't you?