Looking Ahead

Hi everyone,

This is my first post on the Gateway Course blog, and I’m already intrigued by the variety of entries I have read. I am enjoying the freedom given in the Intro to the Minor to Writing course so far, but I also see it as daunting. What should I post on this blog when there are so few guidelines? In being used to strict curriculums in other classes, the freedom of contribution found in this course poses its own unique learning curve.

One of my favorite parts of this course so far is our discussion style. Professor McDaniel starts each class by asking a question that is seemingly unrelated to the process of writing. I saw this approach in the first few classes as being an icebreaker, but as we continued to follow this format, I realized how our individual answers would tie into that day’s subject on writing. For example, one day Professor McDaniel asked us about if we plan to get married, and if we know the person we would marry. This seemingly random conversation starter led to us discussing the conventions of marriage the majority of society follows and how some people follow these norms without question. We then applied this acknowledgment of marriage standards to the conventions of academic writing.

After realizing how most of our class discussions were set up, I try to guess what we will eventually be talking about just by hearing the question. I love this format because it is in stark contrast with other college discussion sections in which I have participated. I normally know what we’re going to talk about in other sections because we will just review the lecture notes. I’m curious if anyone else tries to guess where the conversation will lead to in each class. Does anyone else do this?


Joseph Kiessling

3 thoughts to “Looking Ahead”

  1. Joseph –
    I was just talking to my parents about this! I absolutely thought it was an icebreaker as well, and then when it kept happening I realized that this was really Professor McDaniel’s approach for getting us thinking about our writing. I love the way our class is structured. I feel so comfortable speaking up because I know everyone is engaged and truly enjoys what we’re discussing. The lack of structure was pretty scary to me at first as well, but this has by far been my favorite discussion or small class of college thus far. I have tried to guess where the conversation is going to lead every class and I haven’t been correct even one time yet! I’m glad I’m not the only one who does this, and I’m hoping some day I can figure it out.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Joseph,

    I was a little unnerved by the lack of structure as well, but now I’m actually realizing that there is a purpose to everything we discuss in class. It has made me realize that concepts we normally apply to writing are all around us and vice versa. Who knew that getting married had anything to do with writing? Certainly not me. Now, however, when I think about marriage I can’t help but think about boilerplate! I wish that I had been writing down the question every day so I could recall all of them, because they pretty much blew my mind. I really like how this class is less about teaching us writing conventions and more about teaching us how to think in this way. I won’t I will be able to think about marriage, comfort food, or my favorite netflix shows the same way I did before this class…

  3. Dude, McDaniel is already my all-time favorite professor. I’m not just writing that for my weekly summary document in the hopes that he’ll read it. I mean it. The way he runs is this class is the most intelligent thing I’ve ever been exposed to in my education. I constantly try to get in his head during his class and I failed miserably at first. I think I’m starting to understand his philosophy on writing…but I’m definitely not sure how to put it into words yet. This is such an inspiring class and the program as a whole makes me want to become the best writer that I possibly can.

Leave a Reply