In all honesty, I can’t believe that this semester is already coming to a close; it feels like it’s just begun! As a pre-medical student, I never though that I would be excited to take yet another writing class, but this semester has changed my mind drastically. Professor Manis has given us the freedom to develop as writers in the way that we see fit. This freedom has allowed me to explore different types of writing that I have never been give the chance to experiment with otherwise.
As we are nearing the end of the term, I can speak for every single one of us when I say that I have an unreasonable amount of work to do. We all have exams, papers, assignments, and presentations due left and right, which makes it very difficult for us to succeed academically. Unfortunately, that’s the Michigan Difference. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the University of Michigan and everything this school has to offer, but I often times find myself so worried about a letter grade that I forget what is truly important: learning. In my English 125 course, I catered each of my essays around exactly what my professor wanted me to write about. I hated writing papers for that class because I never felt as though I was truly expressing myself. In Writing 200, I have felt more than encouraged to experiment with different types of writing, whether it is serious, personal, or even satirical. This freedom has allowed me to forget about a letter grade and focus more heavily on the act and art of writing itself.
Although professor Manis does grade us based on our performance, and give us A/B/C/D grades on our essays, she makes it very clear that she just wants us to write, and be comfortable writing. That in it of itself has been the single most important experience that I can take away from this course. I have always been driven to excel in school, which in my mind often correlates to obtaining “A’s”…but what does an “A” really mean? It means that you were able to recite a specific fact on a specific day. There is no way to truly gage one’s knowledge of a subject, and because of that, grading seems rather silly doesn’t it? Professor Manis has done an incredible job of making me feel like I can write about whatever I want, without the fear failure (which, if any of you have taken organic chemistry, the looming fear of failure is almost always present).
We all are in the process of developing our writing skills, and it’s scary. It’s scary to get to know yourself on such an intimate level. It’s scary to feel insecure about your writing. It’s scary to try new techniques. But that’s what we’re here to do- to push ourselves. So, just remember:
So I guess I will leave you all with that fact that grades are important, and I’m not trying to abolish the grading scale. But at what point do “grades” start having a negative impact on the creativity and expression of students? Debate.