Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Choose A Topic That Interests You

When we are little, we don’t think that our teachers have first names or homes outside of the classroom. They seem to appear and then disappear.

Later in college, our professors seem have full lives that we want to Google and use to our advantage when choosing paper topics.

This is not a good approach.

I’ve had students ask wildly personal questions. They seem to be trying to guess my interests so they can choose an essay topic that will get them an A.

Of course, that isn’t how it works.

I don’t grade based on my interests, political persuasion or lack of a pet. In fact, I am often more interested in a paper on a topic I’m less familiar with because it is a chance to learn more. If you write what you think I want to read, you will quickly get bored with the topic and write a dull paper. If you are bored as the writer, I will be bored as the reader.

Your goal is to write about something that you want to investigate. Something you are curious about. Choose your paper topic wisely and work hard. Edit and revise your paper carefully.

We learn by researching and writing. As you write, your ideas will clarify in your mind and then in turn, on the paper. If you aren’t clear about the subject, you can’t write clear sentences.

In composition writing classes, students often are given the possibility to choose their own angle, if not paper topic. The resulting papers must argue a main point, the thesis, and then support it with appropriate research.

An “A” paper is a carefully constructed and well-supported argument.

That’s what is graded: not your values or mine.

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