Monday, April 9, 2012

A student's perspective: at the Writing Lab

Below is a short essay written by one Melanie Hoshall for a Writing 1 class.
A High Rate of Distraction

     There are people sitting on the floor working on laptops. No, this is not the latest venue for the Occupy Wall Street movement. It's not a protest, although maybe it should be. There is just no room for these people to sit at the crowded hardwood tables shared by up to six students at a time. There are no available chairs for them to sit on.
     This is the IVC Writing Lab and it is simply inadequate to student demand.
     Aside from a lack of seating, there's also the noise. There are constant "excuse mes" as elbows are bumped or a bag knocks into someone's chair when a person squeezes down the narrow aisles. Whispered conversations accumulate into unintelligible babble. Add the conversations with the teachers who are there to help students, and the room is a living study of distraction.
     I fall into the "easily distracted" group. If two people are talking at the same time near me, I have to watch the mouth of the person talking to me to understand what he or she is saying. For me, the noise in the Writing Lab makes writing there like trying to write in the middle of Times Square on New Year's Eve.
     While I acknowledge that my concentration ability is impaired, that does not get the Writing Lab off the hook. It is one seriously uncomfortable place to study, even for people who aren't easily distracted. I worked on fulfilling my time requirement in the Lab by plugging in my earphones and listening to soothing music while I was writing. My impairments also allow me to use one of the two workstations reserved for challenged students and a butt-friendly chair on wheels placed in the Lab. Why on earth a person should have to be challenged to get such common-sense seating is beyond me. Those students sitting on the floor may be more comfortable than the ones sitting on the hostile hardwood chairs. No wonder people avoid the Lab until the end of the semester. Okay, to be fair, they would do that anyway. But the Writing Lab does not have to provide so many excuses.
     On the other hand, the average age of most students is less than half of mine. They are also a generation already living life at a high rate of distraction. They appear unable to walk, drive, eat, or go to the bathroom without their cellphones. The conditions in the Writing Lab might not even register with them since there’s no app for it.
     Those students sitting on the floor of the Writing Lab are trying to sneak in their required hours before they are discovered and tossed out for being a fire hazard. Maybe they are not aware they have cause for protest. After all, it's the end of the semester and it's only for a week or two. Who would they complain to and who would care if they did?

   – Melanie Hoshall

The passing of time leaves empty lives
Waiting to be filled
The passing of time
Leaves empty lives
Waiting to be filled
I'm here with the cause
I'm holding the torch
In the corner of your room
Can you hear me?
And when you're dancing and laughing
And finally living
Hear my voice in your head
And think of me kindly

21 comments:

  1. whine, whine, whine........

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    1. Get a life...hope you are not a writing instructor.

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  2. A thoughtful, honest and careful complaint. And with the lovely adjectival phrase "butt-friendly," too! Thanks.

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  3. Yes, the writing center could benefit from more space and yes younegr sdtuents are often plugged into a variety of devices but I have never seen any students sitting on the floor with their laps tops in the writing center and I am in there almost daily. Of course there is a buzz of activity and discussion - it is a classroom after all - teaching is going on. The student who wrote this might be better served by the lirbary study spaces if silence and distraction-free study is what she wants.

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  4. I nominate 9:22 for whiner of the year.

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  5. It is too crowded at some times.

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  6. Melaine was one of my students...really sharp and down to earth individual. She understood both the concerns of young students and adult students. Wish she could talk to administration.

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  7. It's a really nice essay: great tone, funny, careful (as 9:47 said), and quite well-written.

    Why is it that all possible critiques and careful objections are met by some as "whining"? This comment always makes me suspect (a) complacency, (b) nastiness, and (c) really limited vocabulary, not to mention (d) absence of thought.

    MAH

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  8. p.s. Did you do the hilarious graphic, BvT?

    And: where is this magnificent, green-topped cliff that you've used as your background? Spectacular.

    MAH

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  9. MAH, the cliff scene is among the templates provided by Blogger. Looks like Spain to me, but I dunno.
    I adapted a cartoon (cropping off some of its complexity) for the purpose of the student's post. The naked cowboy is a fixture at Times Square. He looks distracted.

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  10. Nobody whines as well as a "conservative." They are all so horribly put upon.

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  11. Wow. I was not expecting such hostile responses to what was received as not only a good essay, but a funny one, as well. FYI, I am not a conservative (which makes me an endangered species in Orange County) and I am not a teacher (although I am also underpaid in my field). Apparently, I was much too subtle in expressing my desire to see the Writing Lab get more resources. But, hey, thanks for the feedback. Melanie Hoshall

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  12. Wow is right. I enjoyed the blog and thought it was pretty darn funny. After reading the other comments, I guess I must worry about my sense of humor. LOL

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  13. I see a range of comments here. And if someone doesn't "get" a writer's "humor" it could be the writer hasn't fully anticipated the audience. I think some readers appreciated the points made while other responded to the content in ways I thought were reasonable. RE: hostility. The trolls always add that. No surprise there.

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  14. 8:09 - You are right, there are a range of responses and I did not mean in any way to minimize or slight the ones that got the point (and the humor). I am now also aware that just because there aren't any "Troll Crossing" signs posted doesn't mean that there aren't any trolls. Melanie Hoshall

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  15. Ditto to 8:09.

    Both colleges have difficulties in this area even when we are feeling the hot breath of "Student Success" breathing down faculty necks.

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  16. I believe the background image is the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Wikipedia ranks it a top suicide site. Yay Blogger!

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  17. The conservative "whining" comment was meant for the initial poster, Melanie. Your essay was amusing and incisive.

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  18. I think this is an accurate description of the writing lab. But there is a greater concern on campus. What is that nasty smell in the B200 building. It smells like someone buried their grandmother in the walls.

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  19. If we were in Chicago, I would take 9:54's comment more seriously! Melanie makes a number of good points. One of the current challenges at IVC is the limit on resources in the face of increasing needs...an apt description of the state budget, I realize, but worth noting.

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  20. The expressions of the characters in the cartoon are funny.

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