Meredith Butler Dec.

3,2012 Dear Malcolm, Well this is it I guess… my last assignment for you before I move on. It’s fitting I guess: my first assignment was a letter to you and now my last is one as well. I can’t really explain how I felt at the beginning of the semester; I think at some point I repressed the memory. I know for sure I got lost, I didn’t know anyone, and in my very first class of my very first semester of college my professor walks in wearing a helmet with a video camera on top… in which he proceeds to videotape us. Yes Malcolm, I’m talking about you. I can’t say I was looking forward to an English class; in fact I was excited for it to end since I’m not required to take any more English or writing classes in my college career. High school English classes, at least for me, consisted on reading book after book and doing thematic essays, setting essays, character analysis, and historical background essays for each book. While many of the books became some of my favorites, English classes boiled down to busy-work assignments and writing essays just so my teacher had something to read (you would think English teachers had better things to read then mediocre high school papers!). But my idea was thrown out the window when you mentioned we were going to focus on curiosity and creative ideas without ever mentioning the “T” word… thesis. But I survived with most of my sanity intact, although at times during class I was a little worried about yours. However, here you go sir! I really do hope you enjoy my website and specifically my EIP research paper. I really feel like I put a lot of effort and long nights into both the website and the paper so I hope you feel the same. I will give you a

disclaimer though: technology and I don’t see eye-to-eye and I usually end up losing, but I really tried on this one!! You started our class off with daybook entries, which was very interesting for an English class. I had done these before in a class and without trying to sound like I’m tooting my horn, writing is a passion of mine. While I’m not quite yet an author I’m also not the worst writer I’ve ever known. Overall I really enjoyed our daybook entries and while I couldn’t see it at the time, looking back now I’ve been able to see some of the changes I’ve made and how it actually has helped my writing. By far, the creative ones were some of my favorite even though I have a more analytical mind. From there we progressed into some assignments that were less personal or artsy perhaps. Throughout the class we had peer revision, class discussion, readings, and more. Out of all of them, class discussions were most interesting and peer revision was the most nerve-wracking. It was nice to see different opinions on certain things we discussed in class such as the “From Grading to De-Grading” discussion as well as the “Growing Up Online” documentary. I know I was personally very opinionated about the online documentary, and my daybook entry will prove that, but even so it was nice to see some contradiction and other people’s perspective. And never once was it uncomfortable or hostile; I felt we could all explain our opinion without judgment. Because of this, I feel I was able to effectively use opposition in my final EIP paper without making it sound forced or hostile. And the peer revision really helped. Admittedly, I never liked opening up any of my personal writings to anyone but I’m glad I did with my paper. Olivia and Collin were extremely supportive and helpful; they helped catch sentence structures that made reading it awkward but also gave suggestions on more content which I did end up using. I’m

really grateful we revised each other’s paper and looking back I really do believe my paper is 10X better than it was before their suggestions. And then came the monster… this EIP project. Honestly, I had just gotten though a similar project senior year of high school, and it was a nightmare. As soon as this project was mentioned I was positive I was going to regret ever taking this class. I can write, but when it comes time for a research paper I shut down, as much as I hate to admit it. But I was going to push through and cross my fingers for a C. The inquiry process was alright; I was able to find a few things I was really interested in but I still could never imagine actually writing 7 pages about it. I was extremely worried about this project which is why the inquiry process and topic proposal were so rough for me. It was along the same lines and instructions as my senior project: find something that interests you and go from there. And that was my first problem I think; I kept comparing it to my nightmare in high school. I hate making decisions and I can never find much that I’m interested in to the point where I research it, but I like doing well in a class. Because of this I couldn’t focus on anything of interest to me and I wound up picking something I wasn’t really interested in: the relationship between young adults and mass media. But I went through the initial inquiry process anyways and I narrowed it down until I forced myself to pick a topic. The next step was the topic proposal, which happened to be the part of the entire project I disliked the most. Admittedly, I procrastinated quite a bit and I still wasn’t sold on my topic yet. How was I supposed to convince my teacher I liked it when I didn’t? I ended up throwing something together the night it was due and regretting it. Fortunately, at the last second, I was able to talk with Malcolm and switch a topic to one I had originally wanted but didn’t think

would work. So instead I was now switching my focus on whether or not college was an important/necessary step for high school graduates. I had much more of a personal connection towards this topic (I had tried preaching my idea to my parents once and they kept shooting it down) and I could definitely imagine researching it, even if it was for my own gain. I’m glad I ended up changing it and I love my paper as it is now. I actually really proud of it, but this topic proposal was still the worst and most stressful. If I could do anything over again it would be the topic proposal. It was so stressful and I went back and forth so often that I wish I would’ve just gone with my gut in the first place. Now that I had changed my topic, things got a little easier. That being said, finding good educational sources was pretty hard. I had a good amount of popular sources like CNN and NY Times or even TED Talks, but finding a scholarly journal was more difficult, especially with my topic. I was working against professors and teachers by trying to argue that college was’t important and thus they shouldn’t have a job so finding useful and credible sources was difficult. And then I had to put them in MLA format! If I could’ve gone back and put more effort into those MLA formatting I would’ve felt a lot more confident in it. But I actually ended up with an extra source and by the end of the process I went from 5 sources to 12 in my final paper. I just wish high school would take the time to teach MLA. And finally… the big paper. I kind of procrastinated on this one too but not so bad as everything else. My problem was finding a way to organize it before I actually sat down to write it. But once I got that down it was easy to write, and I honestly didn’t mind writing it as much as I thought I would. It was pretty easy actually! I was worried about getting 7 pages out but my first draft ended up being 10 I believe and then my finished paper after revisions was 12 pages long. That’s the longest paper I’ve ever written in my existence! And the biggest help with this

final paper was peer review. I mentioned it before but all the suggestions were extremely helpful and I’m really grateful for them. By the end I think it helped me show areas I could work on as well as helped make my writing/paper that much stronger. I might sound like I’m being over optimistic or positive but I’m really happy with how my paper turned out, especially considering I wasn’t looking forward to writing it in the first place. And here we are Malcolm. I’ve not only progressed as a writer but a thinker too. I hope you’ve notice my title “Question Everything…”. One of the first few slides you showed us was the same quote so I feel like it is fitting. I saw this as just another English class where I can push out papers but I’m glad I was able to actually take it and learn more on curiosity and writing. It’s really been helpful and hopefully I can take what I’ve learned here and apply it to my other classes. I’m even taking a “History of Imagination” class next semester that’s writing intensive so I have my fingers crossed I’ll survive that as well. Einstein once said “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education”. I would’ve argued curiosity doesn’t survive before I took your class. I’m glad you proved me wrong. See you around sir! Sincerely, Meredith Butler.