“you just can’t fly on off and leave a body” – Toni Morrison, our course epigraph, one of the first things we talked about in INTD 105 writing seminar. We were told to analyze it and say what that epigraph meant to us and how it relates to our own lives. I saw it as you cannot grow as a person and leave your past self behind, instead you must embrace that side of you and grow as a person as you gain new knowledge and reflect on past experiences. For me to do that I must embrace my past and take what I’ve learned and reshape or recreate a way of doing things to become a better scholar. In the book “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison One character named Milkman faces the exact problem defined in the epigraph, he wants to live on his own and become his own person but his family and experiences where he was born stops him from leaving. He is unable to fly on-off without confronting the problems left back home similar to our own lives.
The book “Song of Solomon” is easy to get lost in, there are many instances of time jumping from one event with a character to another. Because of this, it is very easy to lose where you are in the story of Milkman our main protagonist. Compared to high school I had to use a deeper thought process to understand the premise of the story. For instance, At the beginning where the mother, Ruth, gave birth to Milkman and Mr. Smith jumped off the building and committed suicide (Morrison, 8). All of this was happening at once and the way Toni Morrison did such a good job mixing those ideas together made the reader question what was happening at the beginning of the book. But if you took the time to analyze and take a deeper look at the text the reader would be able to understand what was happening. In another instance in the text it says “let me tell you right now the one important thing you’ll ever need to know: Own things. And let the things you own other things. Then you’ll own yourself and other people too” (Morrison, 55). At first, I thought this passage was just a father trying to teach a kid a lesson about growing up, and it is, but if you look deeper at the history behind their family and the setting of the book you see it is related to their family pasts as enslaved people and how that influences how they view possessions. They have grown up knowing that owning things means power and that with those things you build up a reputation that others acknowledge. Doing this causes a part of them to die inside and makes them heartless and more closed off from their emotions.
The Syllabus provided by Dr. McCoy talks about what the course will look like this semester, what assignments we will have, and what is expected from us. But more importantly, it talks about self-grading and how it reflects our self-growth in the class stated here “Practicing how to perform meaningful, good-faith, principled self-assessment and accountability is an important professional and personal skill.” (McCoy Syllabus). I thought this was interesting because no other class that I’ve taken so far graded like that. In high school, it was all about getting good grades and remembering the information until the next test then it would fade away over the summer, but one thing that I remember Dr. McCoy saying is “I want you to learn something instead of remembering it”. What she said really piqued my interest because in school we really were just told to remember the information given instead of learning it by heart. For me to grow as a person and expand my horizons I need to take what I am taught by heart. I can’t do what I did in high school and just retain the knowledge until I didn’t need it anymore. The self-assessment is graded under many different categories scaling from 1-4. How much you look back at the documents provided to answer a question or improve your writing, participation in class discussions, using evidence to support my claim or my interpretation of the text, applying feedback from my peers into my writing, and giving feedback to my peers so they can grow as a person also. All the things listed might seem small and insignificant separated but together they are skills that people can use to improve their writing or advance the way they think. And taking what advice others give me I can use that to change what I have learned and break bad habits and improve my skills.
In the writing seminar class, there are about twenty people along with Professor McCoy, each with their own background that makes them think differently. One part of the syllabus talked about self-reflection and improving myself through our peer’s feedback and helping them with my own feedback and thoughts. It has been about 6 weeks of class but in that time, I can tell that each person has their own way of thinking and approaching information given to them and from that, I can use that help to me improve how I write and hopefully I can do the same for them. During each class, we get into discussions about either the book, vocab, a topic, or all three sometimes. But each time I get to understand how the people in my group think about a topic and I can use that to help me understand the topic better or understand their point of view better.
“you just can’t fly on off and leave a body” – Toni Morrison, For me to grow better and achieve higher heights I need to change and embrace new ways of learning. And the first step is knowing what I have learned so far and taking that, improving on it, and growing as a scholar.