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Personal Writing: What I Learned This Semester in English Class

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Personal Writing: What I Learned This Semester in English Class

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  • October 1999
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Personal Writing: What I Learned This Semester In English Class

I feel this semester, only the first of many I will endure, was a successful one. The objective of the course was to make us better writers, and I certainly have improved. I learned what makes a paper good or bad, what makes it easier to write a good paper, and how the manner that the class is held makes a difference.

However, I feel I should have taken my high school English class more seriously. The teacher graded rather leniently, which attributed to my lack of effort. The amount of work required to get an "A" paper in my high school was about equivalent to the work required to get a "C" paper here at Lehigh. It was a very difficult adjustment for me. I went through high school writing what I now know to be not-so-good papers, but received good grades for them. Then, I thought they were good because of the grades I got. Now, I find myself working over twice as hard for half the grade.

This isn't a completely bad thing, though. It teaches me that my writing really wasn't very good. What I used to think deserved an "A" I now realize only does deserve a "C." Now I have to take my writing more seriously, and try much harder at producing good output. Also, my goal isn't to write a paper that will get a good grade. Now, my goal is to write better papers. I write to become a better writer.

That is, I feel, a very important thing that I learned this semester. I don't think, "O.K., I have to get at least a B on this paper." Instead, I think, "O.K., I have to use this assignment to improve my work." This is a much better approach because it causes the writer to try to produce a well written piece. Writing for a grade often causes the writer to do just enough to get by.

I also learned that it is much easier to produce a good piece of writing if I am kept interested. By choosing our own topics, rather than have the teacher give us topics to write on, we often are much more...

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