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Jake Bradley

Amy Flick



Uncovering my Confidence

If you were to ask me what class was going to be my most engaged class when I

went to college, I would never had said an English class. But somehow that is no longer

the case. When classes first began, I surveyed them in my mind preparing myself for

what the year ahead would look like. Math we would manage to get by. Psychology and

Microeconomics looks pretty solid. Business 10 I would just need to show up. But

English Composition, that was going to be my nightmare. I had no clue how I was going

to achieve well in this. English was native language and I had always been able to

portray what I wanted to say in an organized manner when I was speaking. When I was

tasked to write something however, all of those ideas would disappear as soon as the

paper was assigned. My plan was to see how the first few weeks went and then I was

going to reevaluate things then.

My perception quickly began to change as for the first time in all of my schooling

English wasn’t the burden of school. I was an active participant in every class and my

ideas were as fluid as they had ever been. The question that I had was, why? Classes

don’t get easier in college, the coursework is more, and they expect more from you.

When I look back at this year and this course, I realize this was the first time I was

having conversations about real world topics and problems in an English class. I was no

longer required to read Shakespeare and other ancient philosophers where I never had
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any understanding of what was being said. I had gained the confidence that I had never

had in an English class and with that confidence I was ready to engage in English like I

had never before.

With this course reading was accompanied by a Critical Engagement. These short

writing pieces are what made me begin to feel that sense of confidence that I had never

had when it came to writing. For the first time I was told to write about how the piece

made me feel and any connections that I could draw from it to the world around us.

What I found myself writing about was how these pieces gave explanations and evidence

for a lot of problems that are currently happening, even if the piece was written years

ago. Michel Foucault’s Panopticism and John Edgar Wideman’s Our Time were the two

pieces that had the biggest impact for me this semester. With the assignments and how

in class discussions were guided for these pieces I became complete enticed by the

hidden meanings in the pieces. With Panopticism, I focused my response around the

Criminal Justice system, something that I am passionate about fixing in our country.

The Criminal Justice system may be one of the most corrupt systems we as a country

have in place and there is so much that can be done to fix it. Will me taking this course

change how this system works? No, but it gave me the insight that this problem is

something I am passionate about fixing and gave me the confidence to put my ideas

down on paper for others to see. In Our Time, Wideman’s interactions with his brother

and his personal honesty allowed me look at the relationships I have differently. It

taught me that a story needs to be looked at from every perspective and sometimes you

need to remove yourself from a particular perspective to see what is going on as a whole.
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The ideas that are offered my Wideman taught me that there is so much more to the

picture than what’s on the surface.

The biggest point that I have learned from this course is that previous

experiences do not predetermine future ones. I never considered myself a strong writer

or a good English student. But this class showed me that this is not the case. I just never

looked at it in the right perspective. I viewed English courses as a class where I was told

what to write and that it needed to be written a certain way. This class showed me that

writing can be done in many different ways and that my style of writing does not need to

be the same as everyone else’s. I have always been worried to show my personal views in

writing, which had scared me to write. But I know now that I am capable of writing and

that writing shouldn’t be something that I find as a burden. Writing should be used. It

should be used to add my perspective into the greater conversation. Because my opinion

does matter and if I am able to express it and show people that theirs matters too maybe

one day I can turn someone’s nightmare into one of their greatest tools like this class did

for me.