“No way! You’re so lucky you got it!” My friend Chase told me that he heard the food CTW class was the best class ever. Being the best class ever was his expectation, which then became my expectation. Chase told me “all you do in that class is cook, eat the food you make, and try foods the teacher brings in.” Wow. Can a college class get any better than this?
Now, for the question of this essay: did the expectation meet reality? Look at that gif again.
I’m not saying it wasn’t the best, but it just was not what I was thinking. I thought of making filet mignon, crème brûlée, and everything else in between. So as you can tell, that’s not what it was. What Critical Thinking & Writing class in college would have you cook and eat every lecture? Not this one or anyone probably (unless you’re in culinary school).
We started off the first quarter of the class with shocking videos from PETA, documentaries of factory farms and problems with the U.S. food system, and other similar content. Not really interested in these topics and disappointed that my expectations didn’t become a reality, I felt like I might get sick of the class real quick, especially with it being from 5:40 to 7:20. We debated the morality of killing animals for food and other factory farm practices.
So what was this class actually meant to be? Critical Thinking and Writing.
My favorite part? The critical thinking part. It made me think a lot, especially during class. Discussions in class made me think about my stance on issues like animal abuse, factory-farmed meat, environmental issues, lying, cheating, and how money relates to power to name a few. While I may not have been extremely interested in all of the topics, I found these discussions really interesting as they opened my mind to other people’s points of view. I find it hard to take stances on controversial issues because I like knowing the whole story before taking a stance. I like to know what I’m standing for and how I can defend my stance. I also enjoyed playing devil’s advocate by trying to make other people open their minds to different perspectives even if I did not agree with what I was saying.
The other part of the class: writing. Writing is something I have never really been skilled at. I like to think that I have good thoughts, but I don’t do well getting those thoughts out, especially in essays for school. I expected this to be another English class, where I may not do well because my grammar meets class expectations but my essay delivery or clarity does not. Reality: not that. I learned that I can write like I’m talking to somebody. In fact, being conversational in an essay could be more effective. Ya know what I mean? If not, look at Dan Ariely who wrote The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty writes directly to the reader. To prove his points, Ariely talks to the reader like “Imagine yourself on a soft, sandy beach” (Ariely 141), so he can set the scene and later prove his point. Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals was yet another example of an author talking to his/her audience. For example, Foer asks “What does organic signify?” Right after that question, he goes on to explain what organic means.
Professor Nicholas Leither’s Slant really surprised me when it told me to provide an argument to the opposition – TOWARDS THE BEGINNING OF THE ESSAY!
Ok, maybe it’s not that surprising, but how was I supposed to do this? I have been writing five-paragraph essays for a while now, and not once did I bring up an opposing argument, let alone argue for it IN THE BEGINNING OF THE ESSAY. I’m sorry, but my teachers always told me the thesis goes in the beginning of the essay, and my first English teacher at Santa Clara University tells me to put an opposition argument before my thesis/slant paragraph. Alrighty then. But guess what? It turned out to be really effective. After practicing (and hopefully mastering) the Slant method, I appreciated its effectiveness more and more.
If someone were to ask me what I thought of the course looking back now, I would say I learned a lot about how to write, how to create an argument, and how to back your argument up. I have found out a way to get my thoughts on to the paper – by doing it without much thought (there is thought that goes into it though). I now know better ways to think; take a stance about topics, especially difficult, controversial, or confusing ones; and write about topics like these. I have a question, though. If the typical five-paragraph essay was the “correct and most effective” essay to write in high school, and a couple of my other college professors have also preferred a similar structure, buy my first English college professor taught me to write essays with the guidance of his book Slant, what is really the correct and most effective essay to write? The expectation of writing in school is to learn how to write the best essay, but the reality may be finding out that the do-it-the-way-your-teacher-wants-so-you-can-get-the-best-grade essay turns out to be the best type of essay you can write in school.
Ariely, Dan. The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone-Especially Ourselves, 2012. Print.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. Print.
Leither, Nicholas, and Barry Horwitz. “Slant 2.” Heteroclite, 2016. Print.