Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reflecting on Fred's Reflections

Where has the time gone? Just a couple of days ago I was thinking to myself, "Fred, you have never read a blog, let alone written your own. Will I like it? Will anyone read it? Will it feel like a diary? Will it hurt?

I am happy to say the fear of the unknown was mostly unwarranted in this situation, as now I feel reasonably competent in this type of informal writing. To critique my blogging, I would say that my strengths were grammar, using coherent English, and getting a point across with structured and logical writing. My big weakness was the lack of originality and blandness of what I wrote for the most part. I chalk a lot of this up to my engineering-type personality of wanting to be precise, concise, and straightforward as possible when communicating. Unfortunately, this turns out to be not a very creative way of writing, which fails to hold most people's attention outside of discussing technical subjects of math, science, and engineering. There were a few pieces that I was more pleased with than the rest, mentioned below.

In The Motivation of Numbers, I took the counterpoint to what most of our class discussion implied. Instead of lauding the implementation of grading systems, such as the Apgar score, I focused on the corrupting influences of numbers to our motivations. I thought by going against the grain of most of our discussion and not following the writing prompt I could reveal a fresh look at the subject. Although it did this somewhat, the best I could come up with for examples was the overly-typical and mundane "No Child Left Behind" initiative.

As the semester progressed, I tried to make the subjects from our readings apply to my personal experience, as shown in Alignment of the Saltshaker. Here I tried to explain how the house I live in functions as a unit, and analyze whether we are aligned as a group and how we can improve alignment. I felt it was successful, but could have been expanded to putting our house in perspective of our whole lives, including the volunteer work and group activities we do together with our church, and the involvement we have with Saltshaker alumni after individuals graduate as a consequence of alignment.

Writing as a Sinking Ship made good use of metaphor. Writing in this way taught me that for someone as logical and boring as a chemical engineer, a striking metaphor that has multiple dimensions of interpretation can greatly improve my essay. Going down with the ship is like holding onto close-minded writing, and jumping off the ship into the icy water is the painful but freeing decision to open up my writing. I think it was a good analogy that helped me stop and reflect about how to pull myself away from the narrow methodology of writing that I have been indoctrinated with for the past umpteen years.

Shared Vision at Illinois and Elsewhere seemed to flow more than any other posts this semester, maybe because it felt like I was preaching against the evils of bureaucracy, large class sizes, and alcohol. I felt like the product of class discussion and learning over the pasts semester made this piece quite a bit more than it would have been at the beginning of class. I was able to see more clearly the types of things that promote and inhibit change, and point out what these might be at U of I.

Fortunately, I do have high hopes for my future blogging, because I have pretty much overcome my fear of blogging (long and hard as it was). And I vow to blog on topics of interest to me, eliminating the forced feeling of a class blog- perhaps a combination of poetry composition and energy technolgy practice and politics in the United States? However, it does not pain me one bit to say that the blogging for this class was a valuable experience and I am happy to have worked through it.


  1. Peotry? Now that I would love to see! Good synopsis of your blogging experience.

  2. There was an engineering student named Fred.
    Of blogging for this course, he did dread.
    But then he gave it a try
    And his ideas did multiply.
    Now it seems it's all gone to his head.

    This was not to dissuade you on the poetry, just to set a floor for you to rise above.

  3. Thank you both for the encouragement!