CONNECTIONS

Connections with texts
Body Rituals Among the Nacirema by Horace Miner was an eye-opening read. This satire on American culture made me realize how important it is to view other cultures through a relative lens because we are all unique in some way. Visiting a holy mouth man annually and calling their utensils prods and probes sounds strange to us, but it is a reference to our trips to the dentist. The way it is worded makes us question how normal the Nacirema really are; we are quick to judge other cultures as being peculiar because they don’t have the same habits that we do – but who is to say that our habits are normal? Cultures are supposed to be different from one another. That is what makes the world diverse. I have met many people this first semester at college. Everyone is not from the state or even the country. People have different holy days of obligation in the church, customs around the holidays, and fasting rituals, for instance. Having friends who practice various religions and observe certain holidays is a great way to gain insight into how other types of people live. Nobody’s way of living is better than anyone else’s; they are all relatively unique. Another text with ideas that sparked my attention was Ken Bain’s What the Best College Students Do. I find it ironic because throughout this English course we were always questioning who makes the rules, how did the standards come to be what they are, and who has the final say; here Bain is telling readers what the best college students do, assuming that this is how the ideal student acts. Rather than applying all of his advice to my own studies and personal habits, I like to determine which students’ anecdotes relate most to my life. Bain tells the story of one girl named Eliza who found meaning in an education in her freshman year at Columbia. Known as the “walking question mark,” she would seek out answers to a plethora of questions. College was different than high school because she was in an environment where people focused less on
Melissa McGrath 1 | P a g e

CONNECTIONS
competition and more on learning. She began to think of education as being personal, and I have begun to do the same. While the extrinsic motivator of getting good grades is still present, I see the value of learning rather than making honor roll just for the sake of being on what is regarded as an important list. These two texts made me look at myself in the context of my surroundings. There is a world around me that is full of diversity, and there are people eager to share their knowledge and learn new concepts. I have taken a step back to examine where I stand in all of the change that has happened this semester. I have realized that there is much to experience and learn, and that I am just beginning.

Connections among ideas
While writing my literacy autobiography, I paid close attention to my literacy sponsors, my flute and piano teachers. They were both encouraging when I decided to take up the flute. My flute teacher sent me home with strict instructions on how to hold my flute and position my mouth in order to achieve the sound of a B flat. I reviewed the instructions and tried to follow the pictures, but nothing would work. I brought this problem to my piano teacher and she suggested that I just practice with the head joint. It was interesting to see that the teacher who I would expect would hear my first sound on the flute was not my flute teacher. I shared my love of music with these literacy sponsors, but in the end, it was the teacher who knew how to play piano who more directly contributed to my success. At first I had thought that my paper would be about how I learned to play the flute and how I struggled but eventually mastered it. Rather, I was able to delve into the significance of my literary sponsors and their roles in my literacy. In addition, I discovered something about
Melissa McGrath 2 | P a g e

CONNECTIONS
myself during this writing process. While following the rules can be a good thing, I was able to accomplish something significant when I strayed from the precise instructions of my flute teacher. I feel more comfortable having structure and abiding by the rules, but in certain instances it is necessary to stray from the letter of the law and to give someone else’s advice a try. The connection I drew between my analysis of my literacy sponsors and my adherence to the rules happened over time. I initially thought that my music teachers were only significant in encouraging my decision to learn a new instrument. However, once they took on the name of literacy sponsors, I thought more critically about how they enabled or discouraged my literacy. Once I decided that both women contributed in supporting my new literacy, I analyzed how I came to achieve a sound on the flute with their teaching methods. I realized that I was only able to achieve a sound when I strayed from my flute teacher’s strict instructions and took my piano teacher’s loose but would eventually be golden advice.

Connections with other classes
Many of the terms that were mentioned in English, such as rhetorical appeals, audience, and purpose, reminded me of the long list of terms I had to be aware of in an AP English class I took in high school. In an AP class, the teacher must follow a certain curriculum in order to prepare students for an exam that happens later in the school year. The lessons were structured because that was the way AP was supposed to be taught. AP English was a good class, and I learned a lot about being an active reader, dissecting pieces of literature to understand them more fully, and writing cohesive analysis, argumentative, and synthesis essays.

Melissa McGrath 3 | P a g e

CONNECTIONS
In this English course, there was no pressure of an AP exam. While there is a syllabus to be followed so that we stay on track, the classes were much more focused on discussion and examination of literacy, inquiry, and genre. In these topics we talked about language, reality and perception, visual argument, media, education, and social class, just to name a few. While some deadlines approach quickly, for the most part I did not feel like I was in a race. We could spend a full class period talking about how some people live off minimum wage jobs and struggle to survive and the implications that has on relationships, education, and health. The classes were focused on a particular topic, and we could spend a good amount of time discussing it and asking each other questions. In a course that is designed to have a specific result, such as an AP class, there is sometimes little time for discussion because there are certain formats and page layouts that need to be learned for the exam that terminates the course later in the school year. In high school teachers would say that we could relax after the AP exam. There was still work to be done, but we weren’t as pressed for time. In college we strategically work right until the semester ends, and there is no ultimate exam that determines whether or not one receives college credit based on how well he/she did on one test. I like to compare the past with the present, draw similarities and differences, and examine opposing viewpoints. It is natural for me to take what I learn in one class and see how I can apply it to another, so trying to connect AP English and English 1103 was bound to happen. It is hard to go into something new having stripped oneself of prior knowledge or preconceived notions. I have been in English classes before, so I think I know what to expect. English this semester was more far-reaching. We covered a variety of topics and were able to inspect different scenarios in an open setting. We were able to delve into some deep topics in AP classes, but the time constraint was something to be aware of each day.

Melissa McGrath 4 | P a g e

CONNECTIONS

Melissa McGrath 5 | P a g e