Reflect

Experiencing Emotional Discourse is a reflection that I wrote as a literacy narrative in emotional discourse. This autobiographical piece is very important to me and was extremely cathartic to write.

The following excerpts are some of the reflections that I wrote as a part of a writing course that I took during my second semester at Baruch. They are equal parts responses to prompts and my own unrelated reflections.

08/31/2021
“I’ve always been fond of creative writing. One of my best ideas for a story came from my semester in Colorado. I had this concept for a story about a man who had spent his life with crippling hallucinations. He would see the same people, and they would talk to him as if they were standing right there, participating in whatever he was doing, always making comments and giving him helpful suggestions. They never put him in harm’s way, but his fixation on proving their validity to the outside world did. The journey he takes begins when he is suddenly kidnapped and sedated. He wakes up and finds himself in a beautiful office, high in the air in a skyscraper, face-to-face with one of the main characters that he had been hallucinating.

I never got past that part. It ended like many of O. Henry’s stories– suddenly and with a shocking twist. That wasn’t my intention, but that’s what I say to make myself feel better about losing the drive to develop the plot. I encounter this creative wall incredibly and frustratingly often, in all facets of expression– writing, painting, drawing, fashion… except for when it comes to talking about my own experiences in life. I wrote a literacy narrative last semester for ENG2100 on emotional discourse that I was very proud of, and have written many lengthy, senseless journal entries, reflecting on my own traumas and flaws. Maybe I should see a therapist.”

09/25/2021
“Money has always been a sensitive subject for me. I grew up in Westchester county, which is one of the most affluent places in the entire world, but my family was slightly below middle class. I actually read an article recently about the neighborhood I grew up in, a small area called “Dublin” in homage to the many Irish immigrants that moved there in the 19th and 20th centuries. The article discussed how the neighborhood, despite it’s “neglected appearance”, serves the community of Rye, my town, very well in that, to this day, it provides housing to low-income families. My family has come a long way from then, and I think it’d be ignorant to say that we are currently anything but upper middle-class, but reading that article really made me reflect on how ostracizing it was growing up in an extremely affluent neighborhood while surviving on free lunch and being raised by a single mother. Now, I’m far more fortunate, but the anxiety I associate with money (or a lack thereof) is just as strong as it always has been. It’s not as ever-present, but when it does rear its head up, I still feel like the little boy anxious to ask his friend if he could borrow a few dollars for lunch.”

10/10/2021
“In 1998, Andy Clark and David Chalmers wrote “The Extended Mind” which includes a notion called the “extended mind thesis”. Essentially, Clark and Chalmers claim that the mind does not purely reside within one’s physical mind or body, but extends into any physical object that can be a part of the cognitive process in a way that functions like the mind itself. Examples include journals, notes, maps, calculators, and computers. The argument being made is that people are capable of using these references so seamlessly and naturally that the differentiation between referencing them and referencing one’s own memory is purely egoistic. Clark and Chalmers dismiss the idea of the “superiority” that comes with strong recall somehow makes it more useful or valuable than being able to reference external databases and come up with the same answers.

As a 23 year old just starting his second semester at college, I’ve had some time to reflect between periods of education. I’ve done very well academically, I test well, and my recall is strong. If all tests in life required me to use nothing but the information I have in my brain, I’d likely do above average. Despite this, I recognize and accept Clark and Chalmers’ thesis.

My father is a Senior Data Engineer for a very successful market analysis firm called Trepp. He is self-taught– he doesn’t even have a bachelors degree. He swears that the reason for his success is his ability to accept when he doesn’t know the answer right away and to consult his databases (which is his pretentious way of saying “I google it”). He’s been very successful and has been working in data engineering and programming for almost twenty years. Clearly, there is no difference in outcome between how he obtains his information and someone who “knows” the information.

My main argument that I’d like to research and argue is that most testing models have become obsolete in the 21st Century due to the ability of nearly everyone in a privileged society to find information at a moments notice and their ability to remotely communicate with someone instantaneously. There is no longer a need to memorize the definitions of dozens of different terms in order to succeed. Jamming your head full of information in preparation for an important exam (just to throw it all away as soon as you move past the course) does not prepare any student for the “real world”, because the “real world” that these exams were designed to prepare you for no longer exists.”

10/21/2021
“Earlier today, a department head for Computer Information Systems replied to a petition that my classmates made regarding our exams in CIS2200. The group of students argued against the style of testing being used: 75 multiple choices questions to be answered in 75 minutes. They felt that this forced them to simply memorize answers and regurgitate them as quickly as possible to complete the exam in time; however, my professor would often throw in a “NOT” or some other negating word to make it the opposite of what students were expecting. The students felt this was deceptive, and that the method of testing did nothing to further their own knowledge. They had other issues with my teachers style of instructing, mainly regarding her frequent verbatim reading of slides that we have access to anyways.

In response, the department coordinator said that our teacher’s testing and teaching was in line with the departments requirements, and ultimately dismissed the students’ concerns as displeasure with their performance in her class. He even suggested that students take fewer classes at once going forward as this class is “introductory” and classes in the future will be even harder.

As much as I agree with my fellow classmates, it’s hard to read what the department head replied and form a counterargument. She did everything by the books and she has not failed to provide us with what we were promised. My issue here is not my professor, but rather the fact that the pedagogy does in fact state that this method of testing and instructing is acceptable. Personally, I got a B+ on the exam in question, but I don’t think it’s because of any advanced understanding of the subject– I just grinded, studied, and memorized as much as I could without concern for its application.

This instance has strengthened my distaste for traditional methods of education and furthered my belief that these methods are no longer relevant in a digitally advanced society. Like I said in my past retrace, technology, namely the Internet, has given anyone with a Wifi-enabled device the ability to search for and find any information they want if they look hard enough. In any real-world situation, if someone is stuck and does not know how to approach a task, there are so many resources available immediately because of the internet. Whether it be combing through Google or using Messenger to contact a colleague, technology has enabled people to no longer rely solely on their memory but their ability to search for the answer when they don’t know it. I think this provides grounds for a remodelling of testing. With more research, I’d like to write a paper and assert/support my opinion for a change in testing to take society’s strong advances in information technology into account.”