Writing: The Evolution of Thought
Advanced English Writing and Critical Thinking
First and foremost, I want to start out by saying how much I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in your Advanced English Composition and Critical Thinking Class this Semester. It has been a bittersweet experience, in taking what should be my last English class at FLC, which ironically enough, takes place within the same room as that of my first writing course during my first semester. Having said that, I would like to move to my theme of the cover letter, which is that of how, in essence, I have always viewed the writing process, and critical thinking for that matter, as a type of evolution of the thought processes. Throughout my studies as an English major, there has for the most part been a general reiteration that writing is a work in progress, much as the human species is in that it is subject to growth. This fact is seen in how the master’s of this craft, such as Hemingway, King, Dahl, have all made observations alone these lines as to how writing is essentially rewriting, or a constant work in progress. In this way, what is considered the most prolifically written masterpiece, can still be made better through the various stages of the writing process; namely that of prewriting, writing, editing, and revision. Consequently, a writer can say the same thing in less words, or create an entire backstory out of a quirk that they realize in one of their character’s depending on the context of what the individual writer in question is writing about. As for critical thinking, this idea holds with it some relative truth. For example, I mentioned in one of my quick writes this semester that I had read a book on logic, more specifically, Logic, by Wesley C. Salmon, as a means to prepare myself for the semester, and that I felt that in it’s simplest form, that an English class was basically a class on logic; a quick write that I will make sure to include within the context of my portfolio. One clear exemplification of this is in the way students within an English class undergo a process of in-depth analysis of the information that they are subjected to, at which point through the processes of deductive and inductive reasoning, postulate an argument and come to a conclusion. It is also evident in the context of the very first reading assignment that you have us this semester in Paulo Freire’s, The Importance of the Act of Reading, and even more specifically, as is seen in his statement that, “Reading the world thus precedes reading the word and writing a new text must be seen as one way of transforming the world.” To further elaborate on this point, I draw attention to the general observations that you have made regarding my writing, which have been that I provide excellent synthesis and analysis. For the most part, Freire’s point serves as a type of illustration of both the empirical and rationalist debates within the philosophical field of Epistemology, which concerns as to how we come to understanding. Thus, by and large the act of reading and writing typifies the actions associated with the rationalist side of the debate, which is that we learn through the observations of the mind. However, the more empirical applications come from what Freire describes as reading the world, and thus transforming it, as it demonstrates an understanding of how to apply the information that we encounter. On a microscopic level, my ability to analyze and synthesize is observable in the paperwork that I have turned in this semester, and thus illustrating to read the written word as Freire would say in his own words. On a much more macroscopic level, it is seen in my ability to do draw said synthesis from my life experience, or from my ability to read the world. I do believe that there was a class in which you challenged us to make connections between the various classes that we’re taking, and I have tried to do precisely that. The Station Eleven essay was a way of combining elements from my English Literature course this semester, in which I am so grateful that we went through an extensive study of King Lear at the same time as this reading, as it was this that gave me the idea to read the two books next to each other and look for the parallelisms; something that has allowed me to see even more clearly as to how vastly important the connections and relationships we make are. Consequently, it allowed me to have a better understanding of the themes presented in my various classes, as I continued to reiterate them in the assignments, while simultaneously making as many connections as I could. Similarly, it is illustrated in the way that I gained further insight into my Sign Language class by observing the delicate nature of the contact zone created by the language barrier, and in being aware of the many different contact zones that I take places within, such is demonstrated in my first essay of the semester. Consequently, our writing, and critical thinking skills grow in unison with the individual in particular; branching out in many different directions than was originally intended upon based upon experience, and in this way, writing is very similar to evolution, or at the very least, evolution of thought. On another note, that brings up my own thoughts on what this class reflects about my own writing and critical thinking processes, as reflection is a characteristic of intellect. I don’t think that it is possible for three months to gather enough insights as to the progress of a writer’s development; although I am aware that this may be a biased opinion coming from someone who intends on making a career out of the craft. I could argue that I’ve learned that I provide detailed analysis, synthesis, great ideas, and could put some more effort into some surface level grammatical issues, or make some other general observations about the readings we have encountered this semester; but, that wouldn’t necessarily be an honest account, when considering that I have encountered the vast majority of the readings in my previous classes, and have been conscious of these remarks pertaining to my writing, such as that it is somewhat wordy as well. No, development means being aware enough to recognize those qualities, and empower oneself to go beyond those limitations. Having said that, I offer my development over the last three years at FLC as an illustration of my growth as a writer. In another free writing essay, which I will also include, I mentioned how greatly eastern philosophies have helped change my life as a result of my travels through Asia. If you were to look at my collegiate transcript, you would see a juxtaposition between my first semester in which I withdrew from every class, as opposed to last semester in which I received a 4.0. In the first example, I was still challenging beliefs that I had formed as a result of my past; beliefs pertaining to how college wasn’t exactly for me, or that it was unlikely that I would be successful in the collegiate environment as a result of my experiences with IEP’s, and Special Education programs, during my high school years due to my dual diagnosis; a point that deals with several of the identity discussions we’ve had, and so I will include those free writes as well. Moreover, I think a better portrayal of my progress as a writer would be seen in comparing one of my first essays for the school to one of the one’s for your class. Only in this way could I form a better picture of how I’ve worked diligently to overcome difficulties with comma splice issues, paragraph formation, and other such problems which still makes looking at my first essays somewhat cringeworthy. Although, in terms of class discussion, I think that I have demonstrated an ability to adapt to a situation, namely that of recognizing my laptop for the safe zone that it is, and choosing to engage more in class discussion, which is very difficult for someone as far on the introverted spectrum as I am, as opposed to meticulously taking notes as I usually do. This was very challenging for me in the sense that my grades have changed significantly since I’ve incorporated typing my notes, knowing that I learn through visualization as I type, and in the repetitious process I undergo in typing them all three times over. For example, I have over four hundred pages of notes for my Literature class, which I am also doing very well in, so going away from a process that I know works for me proved to be something that was both challenging and rewarding at the same time. However, that is the general premises of what the collegiate setting hopes to foster in terms of promoting critical thinking, which is that of learning to adapt to any given situation and to demonstrate the overall capacity for lifelong learning. For instance seeing that an essay is essentially a mathematical equation with infinitely many equations, in which the answer is reached upon reverse engineering the various variables, namely that of the points that an individual substantiates in order to reach their conclusion. Or, applying such faculties to overcome real life applications such as coming up for solutions to not being able to afford one’s textbooks, leveraging one’s skills in English as a tutor in exchange for rides home at night, or using writing as a creative solution in and of itself as a means to overcome the challenges of having a degree of echolalia as is associated with autism, just as I do in utilizing what is known as scripting in order to memorize important quotes and resources for the purpose of implementing them in my papers, and still being successful despite the setbacks. That being said, writing, and critical thinking is likened to the process of evolution, in that the understanding of a concept continues to develop through prolonged contemplation of the specific idea in question. Thus, a small child learns of a sense of both basic ideas and of connection through their lego blocks, and in turn, can relate that to one’s own sense of being, allowing for a connection with the self through more complex ideas, until there is enough awareness of the idea to make connections with people, through ideas and classes, or in a more abstract manner as postulating such a theory as the great chain of being, having realized that we are all to a certain extent interconnected with one another in many different ways. It is my hope that I’ve encapsulated this fundamental maturation of the thought processes through my portfolio. On a final note, just to be very clear, the contents of my portfolio beyond the cover letter will include my essays entitled, Arthur Leander: A Symbol of Continuity, as well as that of, Folsom Lake College: For Federal Funding we Cater, in place of my formal writings. Both of these essays have been carefully chosen in that I believe they best demonstrate the theme that I have provided for you in terms of expanding on my understanding of the contact zones, as demonstrated though the analysis and the level of synthesis throughout both of them in this regards. As for the revisions that have been made, I’ve decided to emphasize making changes for the purpose of clarification, and working through some of the surface level grammatical areas. It may seem like a small change, however, I’ve come to learn that it is often the small finite details that matter most. After all the purpose of the portfolio is to recognize the extensive process of writing for what it is, and if I am going to make a career out of writing, then I might as well get in the habit of working on these ostensibly small surface level issues as soon as I can. As for informal documentations, I’ve included the group response that we did on the 26th of September, three free writes, as well as the readings which I have felt most shaped and influenced my critical thinking and writing over the course of the semester. Having said that, I know that this letter has been extensive, and surpasses the required page limit, but I had a lot to say about something I hold dearly in my heart. As my mother would say, I think to much, and it is for this reason that I provide such excellent analysis, because I innately overanalyze every situation, due to my general inclination of being curious about the world that I take part in. Also, it is the result of being a very sentimental being making an attempt to draw out saying goodbye to the FLC English Department as I prepare to transition towards another stage of my life, and I thank you for taking part in that process, and for everything that you’ve taught us in your lessons over the semester.