As a student and a new tutor, I can’t help but think about particular assignments that professors have given out to my peers and me. Sometimes I feel as though I have completed my fair share of essays and writings that have, in the end, led me to question what purpose was served to complete them. To make this feeling even worse, some of them become so structured and restricted that I feel like I am simply filling in the blanks like I would on a math test. When I am finished, I turn it in with my name on it and get some sort of grade for an assignment that I feel like the professor actually did more work in preparing than I did answering. It seems sometimes that some professors are giving out assignments that blatantly follow a set of guidelines and instruct you to do the same. Where is the productivity in that?
I know that we have all felt like this before, and will continue to feel like this many times in our life. It seems so easy to jump on the bandwagon and say that professors and the institution are trapping us in cages and taming our otherwise flourishing abstract and cultural nature into university standardized robots. It seems too easy to categorize many of the policies of the particular institution we attend or professor with which we study into an anti-progress, anti-individual expression, hugely boring bombardments of accepted rhetoric and pedagogies. I may even have been inclined earlier in my college career to jump right on and say, “Screw the assignments! We are all adults here, and we don’t need worksheet-type essays to go home with and fill in the blanks. We need the professors to give us ideas and let us roll from there, in which ever way or style we want.” I suppose this seems like a good idea, and I think it is necessary for some particular classes to let us go about this method. I am a huge advocate of individualized study and will agree that individualizing one’s work is an immensely important thing. However, when we get right down to criticizing everything the university does along with its professors, I feel like we forget the very simple fact that they are not stupid.
We have to bear in mind that professors and the policy makers are very well educated people. Most have about four to eight years of schooling behind them and are charged with a mission at the end of it. That mission is to teach. Unless a professor simply falls asleep through the class and honestly does nothing, I think we need to watch how critical we are of their assignments.
Anyways, what does this have to do with the writing center? I think that sometimes we may look at an assignment a student carries in and think how ridiculous it is that that student was assigned it. What does this have to do with this course? Why is it so structured? The student probably will agree with us on that. I just think we may need to realize that there is most definitely a purpose behind that assignment, whether we can see it or not. I remember a math teacher of mine in high school telling the class about the nursing program at BSU. Apparently there was a very difficult math class you had to take in order to graduate with a nursing degree. What the heck? Well he said that the class has nothing to do with the practice of nursing, but had everything to do with weeding out those who did not truly want to be in nursing.
I’m hoping this makes sense to whoever reads it. It is something I think about when I hear people in the halls say how worthless certain assignments or classes are.