04 October 2010

Goofus & Gallant in College Writing Class

Goofus skims through the reading—
when he actually does the reading.
He’s never taken a note, nor has he
ever once looked up in the dictionary
a word in the text he doesn’t know.
Gallant reads with a sharp pencil in hand.
He underlines passages that confuse, impress,
or trouble him.  He circles words he doesn’t know and looks them up later, writing the definitions in the margins.
Goofus strays into class, usually
around starting time.  He often brings his book, but usually doesn’t open it.  If he is talking in class, it’s off-the-cuff,
without much thought or reference
to the text.  Goofus usually finds school
texts boring.
Gallant arrives a few minutes early to class to look over the reading, his notes, and some ideas he wants to work on for his paper.  He
uses class discussion to test his ideas; he also
listens seriously to what other students say.
The more familiar Gallant gets with the texts,
The more interesting they seem.
Two minutes before class is over, Goofus readjusts his baseball cap and puts his untouched  text and note book back in his pack,  then heads out for the next class.
Gallant takes a minute or two to make notes of
the discussion points in class, to mark the
passages the instructor pointed out, and to ask
the instructor any questions he has.
Goofus begins his work for class after
Classes, practice, dinner, and a little
“me time” (four hours’ worth).  It’s
usually pretty late, so he’s tired and
not real patient.
Gallant actually schedules his work time.  He
always spends at least an hour in the library
when the sun is up.  He browses the stacks
and gets to know the reference librarians.
Goofus writes his “essay” a day or two
before the due date.  He never revises,
because he wants it “to be real.”
Goofus has never understood
paragraphs, so he just indents every
four inches.  Goofus finds ANY
source that mentions the title of
the book he is writing on and sticks
a quotation in—without explanation
or context—at least once per page.
Gallant has been thinking and jotting down ideas
for his paper since the class began reading the
book.  He has visited the professor  few times
to help work out his ideas and plot out his
thesis statement.  He has revised his paper
four or five times before the first edit
session.  He knows whether his sources
support, challenge or locate his thesis.
Goofus thinks that the formalities of
a Notes page and a Works Cities page
are so twentieth-century.  His paper has no notes, and a Works Cited page that is like a jigsaw puzzle missing half the pieces.
Gallant learns how freaking simple the Works
Cites and Notes pages are, so he does it
mostly right the first time, and gets it
perfect the second time.
When Goofus gets his paper back, he
ignores the marginal notes and
comments at the end and looks only at
 the grade, which he knows is far too low for the paper.  This confirms his sense that the professor doesn’t like him.
Gallant reads the comments and marginal notes, trying to figure out where his paper worked and where the logic was flawed.  Once a grammatical error is pointed out, he learns how to correct the problem.  He makes an appointment
with his professor if he has any questions.

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