Thursday, December 10, 2009

I for I did it!!

I am proud and relieved to tell you, dear reader, that I finished the Interpersonal Communications Competency! I missed out on Thanksgiving with both my family and my in-laws (which, just between you and me, wasn’t really much of a sacrifice; sure I missed some of the good food and desserts, but I didn’t miss the noise or drama or fake niceties.), and stayed up ‘til 3 a.m. this past Friday, but I finished the damn paper. I think I did a pretty good job on it too. I had been worried that this assignment was going to ruin “When Harry Met Sally” for me, but it didn’t. I’m always happy to have an opportunity to watch one of my all time favorite movies, and because I know the movie so well (and love it so much), watching it made the assignment seem like less work. Saturday was the actual competency, so I had to go to a group discussion and turn in the paper.

I had gotten an email a little over a week ago reminding me that I was scheduled to complete the competency at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 5. I just about had a heart attack Saturday morning when I double checked the competency schedule that was mailed to me at the beginning of the semester and saw that Interpersonal Communications was scheduled from 9-10 a.m. It was 9:30 a.m. when I looked at the schedule, so if it was correct, I had missed the competency. I nearly cried. Had I dreamt about that email? Was the email wrong? Panic Attack: OhmygodwhatamIgonnadonow?!?!?!??! I double checked me email, which did indeed say 1:30, and decided I’d show up at that time and hope for the best. Thankfully, the evaluator and a small group of students were there when I arrived at about 1:15. Apparently over thirty people had signed up for the competency, and the evaluator didn’t think a good group discussion could happen in only an hour with over thirty people, so they broke the students into three separate groups; I was lucky enough to get the afternoon timeslot.

The competency evaluator was great, and I thought the discussion was actually kind of fun. It was interesting to hear how other people approached the movie and what concepts of interpersonal communications they found. The one hour discussion flew by! The evaluator had told us at the beginning that we’d know after the discussion whether or not we passed the first part of the competency, and we found out that everyone passed. I’m glad to know that I’m good for 40% of the competency, but I was never worried about the discussion; I knew I’d pass that part.

I’m worried about the paper, which is 60% of the grade; it will take 4-6 weeks for me to find out how I did on that, which kinda sucks. The grade won’t affect my GPA at all, because competencies are graded on a Pass/Fail basis. However, a letter grade equivalent is given on the final evaluation form, and that’s the grade that Big College that I plan on transferring to for my bachelor’s degree will look at. I need a C or better, and just in case you haven’t quite figured me out yet, I’m shooting for an A. Grades are due by December 22, so I’ll know by then whether or not I passed. Then, I’ll just be left to agonize over how well I did on the paper until I get it back.

I’m soooooooooooooooo glad this competency is finished!!! It was my first one, so it was quite nerve wracking, because there's really not a lot of guidance as to what’s expected of you. I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted, and I’m thankful that I only have three competencies left in my degree plan. I should take the public speaking one next semester, but I’m not going to finalize that decision until I get the results of this competency.

In other news: English class is almost over. Next week is the last class, and then I’ll have a three week break, which I’m wicked excited about. It’s not that I have any grand plans or anything; it’s just that it will be nice not to have to worry about homework for a while. If I want to be completely and totally lazy on a weekend, I’ll be able to. I can't wait!!!!

In class this past Tuesday, we did peer-review of the drafts of our last papers. Once again, I was assigned to a group that gave me little to no feedback while I gave them pages worth. I’m a little pissed that, just because I write a good paper, I don’t seem to deserve feedback. The instructor openly admitted to me that the reason I was paired with the individuals that I was paired with is that I have lots of great knowledge to share and help to provide. Well whoop-dee-frickin’-do!!!

Though I do have to say that the way the instructor’s admission came about was entertaining. We had been discussing logical fallacies in class, because this last paper is an argument paper. Logical fallacies should be avoided if you want your argument to be taken seriously, and include things like: Hasty Generalizations (i.e. all men can’t cook), Ad hominem (attack on a person rather than their opinion; i.e. Green Peace isn’t effective because they are all dirty, lazy hippies), False Authority (i.e. I’m not a doctor; I just play one on TV. This headache drug is the best!), Exaggerated Appeal to Emotions (i.e. This poor starving child will die if you don’t support this tax increase.), and others. [Side Note: You are most welcome for this incredibly useful and valuable lesson on logical fallacies. Go forth and use it wisely! Or, you know, don't, because you have no use for it; just like the other, oh, about 90% of the population.]

I was sitting at a table with two of my friends, Cam and Mel, and we wanted to be a peer-review group. I was interested in reading Cam’s paper about stem cell research and Mel’s paper about early childhood education. Mel had also been in my first peer-review group and had given me good feedback on my first paper, so I was looking forward to getting feedback from her again. After a class exercise on identifying logical fallacies, the instructor announced groups; she could see that we were visibly upset that the three of us were not paired together. She said something like, “Oh, I’m sorry! Were you really looking forward to working together?” I said, “I was just really interested in their papers and was excited to read them.”

She started trying to explain her reasoning for groups, and I jokingly said, “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. I’ll just cry about it later.” The class busted out with, “LOGICAL FALLACY! Exaggerated Appeal to Emotions!” and everyone started laughing. The instructor hung her head and said, “I know!!! See how well it works?!?! I’m sorry, Frazzled, it’s just that you have so much knowledge and wisdom to share with others who need a little help.” I told her that I understood as I begrudgingly got up to join my assigned group. (Perhaps you didn’t find this little story as entertaining as I did; I guess you just had to be there. I’m sorry if I just wasted a couple minutes of your life.)

In a way, it made me feel good that she was announcing to the whole class that I was that good. On the other hand, I was upset because I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to get any decent feedback, because I hadn’t gotten any decent feedback in the last peer-review, which was also assigned groups. I will honestly admit that the draft I brought to class yesterday was a piece of crap—really, total garbage—partially because I was busy finishing up the competency rather than working on the first draft of my argument paper, and partially because I hate writing arguments. I was really looking forward to some kind of feedback on this paper, because I didn’t feel as though my argument was strong, and I felt like my paper went in too many directions. I thought it turned out like more of an educational piece than an argument paper.

This is the feedback I got: The girl reviewer wrote that my argument was “domestic violence.” HOW exactly is that an argument?!?! Domestic violence was the subject, yes, but my argument was: society needs to quit blaming victims of domestic violence by asking rhetorical questions such as, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” because leaving a domestic violence situation isn’t that simplistic; instead of perpetuating the stigma and shame of domestic violence by blaming victims, we need to educate the public on resources available to help victims of violence. She thought that my argument was good and that my conclusion was strong, but she said that I needed to focus more on addressing the con (or counter argument) of the issue. I didn't disagree with that last bit of feedback, but when I asked what she thought the con was, she didn’t know. Well, that’s really helpful, isn't it?!? The guy reviewer handed my paper back to me after he’d gotten halfway through and said, “I think I need to start reading more to develop my vocabulary. I don’t understand a lot of what you’re saying.” I was speechless. I mean, really, just how am I supposed to respond to that?!?

I’m so thankful that this is my last paper and that next week is my last class. I’ll have another one or two English classes in semesters to come, but I’m going to space them out, because they are brutal. In fact, I think I might try to find a class to replace creative writing, which is currently in my degree plan. The only thing is, I don’t think there’s another class that will meet the state transfer curriculum goals that I can replace it with. It’s hard to explain, but suffice it to say I may be stuck taking creative writing, which means I have that writing intensive class and another writing intensive English class left in my degree plan. Wonderful!!!

Hopefully, by the time I have to take the next English class, I’ll have forgotten the pain of this one. I’ve never had children, but I’ve heard the phenomenon of childbirth; wherein a woman soon forgets the pain she went through to deliver a baby, and thus is able to repeat the process (if she so desires) more than once. It must be true, because I doubt that so many women would have more than one child if they were still perfectly capable of remembering the pain of labor from the first one. If you truly remember that kind of pain and still want to repeat it, there has to be something wrong with you, and you definitely shouldn’t be having more babies. Instead, you should probably be locked up in a mental ward or science lab somewhere, because it’s just not normal to openly welcome and accept excruciating pain.

I will return soon, dear reader, to regale you with stories from my last English class. Until then, is there anything you want to know about the adult student experience? Is there anything in particular that you want to know about me? Don’t be shy! Leave any questions in the comments, and I will address them in an upcoming blog.

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