kitchen table math, the sequel: I reckon I'll pass

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I reckon I'll pass

Susan S has conducted an inquiry into the "Writing the Essay" course C. suffered through this semester, and found this question posted to Yahoo Answers:
Essay 2
Write an essay of your own in which you reckon with the original, chosen essay and its ideas. Do this reckoning in the context of other sources (written and experiential). Do this reckoning not only for its own sake but also for the sake of developing an idea of your own. Your writing task is at least two-fold: to deepen our understanding of that original source while letting us see you reckon with it across the entire essay; and to develop your own idea along with this reckoning, an idea that emerges through your analytical reckoning. You must cite the original, chosen essay and at least three other written texts in your essay. You can also use your own experiences to help develop your idea.

[The student asks]: RECKON??? do you know how many definitions there are of reckon... can someone explain what i am supposed to do.
For Christmas I ordered three Writing the Essay mugs from Urban Dictionary, one for Ed, one for me, and one for C.

Unfortunately, the one I ordered for me has a definition of "Trailer Fraud" on the side, so now that's another whole multi-step errand to add to the list.


Glen said...

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." ~ Inigo Montoya

I think the word the teacher was looking for was "diddle." Try substituting it for reckon in the quote and you'll see what I mean.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh my god!!!!

I just read your comment -----

yes, indeed!

that ***is*** the word, isn't it?!

Catherine Johnson said...

oh, man

C. is gonna love that comment

Catherine Johnson said...

stay tuned, because I'm going to post the teacher's comment on his C paper tomorrow....

I've been emailing with Susan S; they've got this going on in their high school, complete with grade deflation


Letter-grading of writing has always been highly subjective and inconsistent across teachers

So imagine the grading scale for papers that are supposed to 'reckon.'

Catherine Johnson said...

Can't remember whether I told you all that C's teacher told him explicitly NOT to write a thesis statement.

Ed and I have been struck, ever since that meeting, by the number of academic papers that include, in the first paragraph or section, formulations like "The thesis of this paper is."

Peer-reviewed, academic papers have thesis statements.

Writing the Essay forces students to spend an entire semester NOT writing thesis statements.

Catherine Johnson said...

They spend a lot of time in groups, in Writing the Essay.

Anonymous said...

"Reckon," like "interrogate" and "transgressive" is a favorite word for literature professors to use in their own work (just look at paper titles at MLA). They may or may not succeed in making their students (many of whom are not aiming to be literature scholars)the special meanings that these words convey when used in these specialized senses. Plus, they WAY overuse these words. In a way, they are just signifiers that the writer is in the in group. I don't mean to say that the points the scholars are making are invalid (they might or might not be) but merely that they use code words too much.

Catherine Johnson said...

"Interrogate" and "transgressive" ---- yes! yes! yes!

How many INTERROGATES and TRANSGRESSIVES have I spied in my day?


Catherine Johnson said...


I just showed C. Glen's comment.

"What's diddle?"

I'm going to assume he thinks his mother would not be writing an education blog where the word diddle means what he thinks it means.

He's chuckling now.

Glen said...

Le mot juste.

Laura in AZ said...

Glen is a genius!!!

I must have tried to read that entry 3 times and still did not understand it. I know I would not get through a modern high school today (or ENG 101 in college for that matter).

For some reason I kept imagining some hillbilly farmer with straw sticking out his mouth, saying "reckon," over and over again...