Reacting

Journals are not the place for class notes, which are frequently mere copies of teacher's thoughts, but they are good places in which to examine what took place in class, to record your opinion of the worth of the lecture or points made by classmates during a discussion. In the following entry, Caroline, a senior English major, comments on her Shakespeare class:

2/9 In Shakespeare class today I was aware of my fellow students and wondered what each one of us was thinking— about the class in general, about the professor, about each other's comments, about Shakespeare. I could sense and see that some students were there only in body. Some of them obviously hadn't read Hamlet, many hadn't even brought their books to class. I felt they had closed themselves to literature—What, in contrast, makes me care about these plays?

Caroline's candid reaction to class will inevitably help her remember both the form and substance of that particular class meeting better than if she had not written about it. Repeated entries such as this would be likely to sharpen her powers of observation and depth of understanding as well.

After a few weeks of keeping a journal in his first-year writing class, Kurt wrote:

9/28 I am really amazed at myself! I don't ever recall writing this much in my life—especially in a journal. I write down a lot of ideas I get, I write in it when a class is boring (usually chemistry lecture) and I write in it because I want to. It helps me get things off my chest that are bothering me.

Kurt's reaction is fairly typical of students who are starting to get serious about some elements of college (not necessarily chemistry) and are finding the journal a useful companion in advancing their thought—some-times to their own surprise.

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