Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Self-Reflection, Professional Development and Verbage

My graduate classes started up again last week.

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension

Seriously - I'm stoked. I've got three classes this semester instead of my usual two, so I'm going to be busier than usual. But it's a good kind of busy.

My first assignment is a reflection of myself in the program so far. It's supposed to be kind of informal - no real page limit. It's billed as a chance for me to look at how far I've come and what I still want to learn. Which is nice to start off the semester with a little fluffy assignment - just to get myself back in the groove of working, but it's not enough to send my brain into over-fried-overdrive.

But... (yes, there's always a "but," coming, isn't there?)

When I start to actually writing this reflection, I can't help but get into the high-stilted, beat-around-the-bush, take-a-million-years-to-say-hello, writing style that I inevitably land in when I write for a class. I can be informal and relaxed on my blog - even with a SERIOUS BUSINESS topic - but sitting down to pen any kind of academic writing turns me into Wordy Wanda.

For example, this is an actual excerpt from the rough draft of my reflection:

"I find that kids who are good at academics, sports and/or arts get lots of recognition and encouragement for their talents, as well they should. But I’ve noticed that kids who have less-traditional talents, such as construction, welding, family-consumer sciences or other so-called vocational fields, get less encouragement – they may not see their interests as something practical in life."

Mmm 'kay - so, what I was trying to say is that there are kids with talents that almost always get recognized while there are kids with other talents that are just as good that sometimes get overlooked. Sort of like "You want to be a cook for a living? Why?" Part of what I want to do is encourage kids with those "secondary" talents to work at it and develop where their interests lie and never mind what chess club, piano lesson or dance class they're signed up for this week. But I can't say it like that in my academic writing because... I really don't know why.

I hate, hate, HATE when I want to just write one sentence or phrase and it turns into a long wordy piece of crap. One thing that I can't stand about writing business emails for my dad is that I think the people he's writing to must be idiots because he's had to tell them THE SAME STINKING THING at least three or four times, just with different wording. Good grief, how many different ways are there to spell "cat" before you realize he's talking about a small household pet that sheds all over the furniture but is still pretty good at catching mice? (that's a metaphor, JSYK) Personally, I just want to shoot them one line - "Can you please lend us this much money? Our credentials are attached. Many thank yous" - and be done with it (given, I left out the gratuitous butt-kissing these emails often include, which I'd be happy dispensing with altogether).

So, back to my writing assignment - I should just go back and rewrite it. I'm no where near being done, but what I have is crap. Make no mistake - the ideas are fine, it's the execution of the idea that sucks. At least I have until Friday to finish.

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