So for this first assignment I browsed around thoughtvectors.net and read some blogs. I have to admit I was a bit confused at first because reading “backwards” is a little strange, and some of the posts made no sense because I didn’t know what their prompt was. Anyways, after hopping around links for a while I found a blog by a UNIV 200 professor, Jessica Gordon. There weren’t a lot of posts, but she writes long, but easy to read, entries.
On one of Jessica’s posts, she discusses why is it important that students take classes like Focused Inquiry while in college. She says that these classes teach us critical thinking and how to communicate effectively, and these are skills that any profession needs. I couldn’t agree more. Learning how to seek for information and how to distinguish between good and bad sources of knowledge is crucial for making informed decisions in our personal and professional lives. A personal example comes to mind: I’ve been trying to lose a couple of pounds, and a quick search online will show you that everyone and their mothers has a theory on what’s most effective. There are thousands of diets, exercise plans, detoxes, etc etc etc. However, only by looking for information on reputable places, from professionals with real credentials you can be sure to be on the right path. It’s easy to get lost in the midst of thousands and thousands of articles about weight loss, but having the right tools to navigate all this information makes it a little easier, and this skill can be used in many other areas of life.
Another post I found interesting is also related to applying skills learned in college well after graduation. Jessica writes about the importance of learning how to defend your own opinions and point of views effectively. She teaches this skills to her students by having them practice writing three statements that support their points of view. Well, that’s a lot easier said than done! Her post got me thinking about my own opinions and why I think this or that way, and I’m embarrassed to say I can’t come up with three good arguments for a lot of them. Reflecting on my own behavior and how I form my own opinions, I noticed that sometimes I don’t read whole news articles, just the headlines and then go straight to the comments. Why do I do this, I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with my shorter attention spam, or maybe because it’s just easy to see how others feel about the article and its contents so I don’t have to come up with an opinion myself. I think we as a society are growing so used to not having to think for ourselves that it’s a bit of a shock when we are forced to do it (as in when we are taking a college course that requires you to write argumentative essays).
Thinking is hard. Expressing our thoughts in a cohesive and clear manner is even harder (and even worse if it’s in writing). Defending your thoughts and convincing others to think like yourself is a herculean task! I guess that’s why so many students dread writing in college. Myself, I wouldn’t say I hate it but I don’t love it either. I need to take my time and review, review, review. Having someone else read and criticize my writing is not too pleasant for me, so forgive me for being a little wary of this whole blogging thing. Nonetheless, I can appreciate the importance of taking this class not only for improving my writing but to become more comfortable with thinking critically, arguing and defending my views. After all, as “thinker” Jessica says, it will be a lifelong process.