San Jose City College Debating the Value of College in America the New Yorker

Discussion one: Materials are “Debating the value of college in America the New Yorker”, “Making college relevant”, “Search on”. After reading/listening to/watching the material for this module, post a brief (~200words) response to the prompt below.

Prompt: Pick two quotes or concepts or statistics from the texts in this module and explain why you think they’re important. See if you can connect ideas from one text to ideas from another. For instance, you might consider Louis Menand’s three ways of looking at the purpose of college–Theory 1 (meritocratic), Theory 2 (democratic) and Theory 3 (pragmatic)–and explain which theory (or combination of theories) best describes your own attitude towards college. Or you might address the idea of competency-based college, as portrayed in the first segment of the PBS report and compare it with Prof. Edmundson’s ideas about what makes for a “real” college education. You could also address the statistics on “what employers really want” schools to teach, as noted in the article “Making College Relevant,” or respond to the attitudes expressed in the “Millennials” article by comparing them to your own attitude/approach to life and learning.

Discussion two: Materials are “Where I slept”, I like guys by David”, “Ghost children”. After reading/listening to/watching the material for this module, post a brief (~200words) response to the prompt below. addressing one of the prompts.

Prompt:Feel free to address more than one of the essays in your post if you want to point out a thematic connection or highlight a stylistic device you can identify in multiple texts.

When you make a claim about a text, be sure to support it with specific examples and/or quotations from that text.

“Where I Slept” – What do you think of the tone of this essay? Does it seem like a confession? Is it intimate? How does Elliott make you feel about his younger self and about his experience? What specific lines in the text elicit a reaction from you?

“Mother Tongue” – How does your language and that of your peers differ from that of a different generation of speakers–your parents, say, or your children? How does the language you use in formal situations differ from that which you use in less formal ones?

“I Like Guys” – How does Sedaris’s tone and style and voice differ from Elliott’s and Brown’s? What effect does his use of humor have on us, as readers? Do you read the ending as uplifting or downbeat?

“Ghost Children” – Connecting the past to the present is a major theme of “Ghost Children.” It’s also a key element of the personal essay genre: the idea that you can start with a single moment from your own life and, in the course of trying to make sense of it, end up recalling stories about your parents, and your grandparents, and even the entire history that informs your own life. In so doing, you end up questioning the way you define yourself–or even the questions you ask yourself in an effort to define yourself (see, for instance, Brown’s line “I questioned my questions” when he’s going back over the inciting incident, trying to figure out why he acted the way he did). All of this makes the essay challenging because structurally it’s a series of vivid stories connected by Brown’s self-inquiry. As you read this piece, look at the way Brown moves from one story to the next–how he combines vivid storytelling (scenes, images, moments–what I call “showing” writing) with an intellectual journey (the ideas he grapples with–what I call “telling” or “expository” writing). Does the structure of the essay mirror the thought process one might go through when trying to unpack or interpret one’s own experience? That is, does the formal structure of this essay seem true to how we remember things?

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