Monday, February 20, 2006
Men in Hats, or, I'm Glad I Don't Teach Composition Anymore
Seeing two movies back-to-back prompted the inevitable comparisons, which, in turn, brought back memories of those awful “compare and contrast” essay assignments from my days teaching composition 1. What follows is a compare-and-contrast essay, in the style of a freshman composition student, about the two movies. I did my best to get the prose style right. For those who’ve never taught a class that involved grading freshman papers, you might want to take a stiff drink before reading more...
Although Curious George and Brokeback Mountain share many similarities, they also share many differences. Both involve men in hats, but the meaning of the hat changes.
Curious George is the story of a monkey and the man he adopts. The Man in the Yellow Hat works in a museum, where he never figures out that Drew Barrymore has a crush on him. He must be gay or something. He gets sent to Africa to find a statue that could save the museum. He doesn’t, but he could of if he had figured out how to read the map. A monkey steals his hat, which is like stealing his identity, but it’s a hat. It’s an example of nature’s inhumanity to man.
Anyway, the monkey follows the man back to New York City. They get into alot of adventures. Just when The Man and Drew Barrymore are about to hook up, George starts firing off a rocket. This is called symbolism. Then they go around the world again and again (The Man and George, not The Man and Drew).
Brokeback Mountain is about two gay cowboys. We know they’re gay cause they have sex. Also cause they don’t like Anne Hathaway, Michele Williams, and that chick who played Lindsay on Freaks and Geeks and is on ER now. They both wear cowboy hats, but not yellow ones.
The cowboys meet when their on the same sheep drive. They hook up cause it’s cold, but decide they like it. They go back to the real world and get married to women, but can’t stop hooking up in the mountains. Heath Ledger tells his wife he’s going fishing, but he’s not.
Eventually, they break up and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s brother dies. He wasn’t a very good cowboy. He always held his cigarettes like joints. Also, Anne Hathaway had funny hair.
At the end, Heath Ledger mumbles something meaningful to the other cowboy’s shirt, which is like a hat, but it has sleeves. This is called symbolism. The theme is man’s inhumanity to man, and their wifes.
Although the two movies were the same, they were also different.
If one of your students plagiarizes that for an assignment, I’ll be oddly proud.
You are amazing! You absolutely nailed that one! (And I don't mean Drew, OR a cowboy!) Your ability to mimic that particular "style" if you will, of writing, is scary. Absolutely scary. Almost an example of man's inhumanity to freshman--while at the same time demonstrating freshman's (oops, sorry, "first year's") inhumanity to man.
I most appreciated the fragmentary thoughts that so often punctuate such writing. Random. Incomplete. And so defensible, at least to the student.
I have spent some time as a writing center tutor and this is spot on, complete with total mishandling of theme and symbolism.
Bonus points for the random CaPitaliZatioN of nouns, inserting or appending of commas and other random punctuation marks. (I've heard that semi-colons make you appear smarter! Pass it on!)
You had me at "They share many similarities and also many differences."
I had a student last year who wrote in a paper that "theory [was] hard and not easy to understand."
Woot! Imagine that!
"Could of" and the improper "their" for "they're" nearly caused spillage at my desk too.
Lovely way to being my grading week while the kiddies are off on expensive holidays I'll never afford.
Thanks for the laugh!
This, my friend, may in fact be my favourite post ever. Bravo!
"Could of" and "alot" cause me actual, physical pain. Sharing it is the first step in healing...
Oh, and it would make some grand sweeping statement like "This proves..." or "All of my friends think that..." or something along those lines.
White Bear, I would love to see any notes or handouts you may have from your Freshmanese lecture!
I love "It's an example of nature's inhumanity to man."
But this sentence could defiantly of sounded much more smarter with the transitional use of "which":
"The Man in the Yellow Hat works in a museum, where he never figures out that Drew Barrymore has a crush on him."
The Man in the Yellow Hat works in a museum, which he never figures out that Drew Barrymore has a crush on him.
I suppose what I think is missing is due to my discipline. Frehsman philosophy papers generally start with a dictionary definition of one of the philosophical terms.
I just read a stack of "compare and contrast" papers, and I really needed that.
this, of course, invites direct comparison to Babar the Elephant. a similar tale where we get to go to Africa and civilize the natives. Here colonized (elephants) become colonizers (of rhinos). And so on and so forth.
thrilled to have come across your blog! also thrilled not to have to teach composition any more;)
That said, the lack of actual comparing and contrasting - all too often read by the humble freshman to say "provide us with a linear plot sypnosis of each piece" - is spot on.
Makes me wonder if education isn't helping to create their own monsters.
You need a "X shows us" phrase - history shows us, film studies demonstrates, etc.
Very enjoyable (in a sick sort of way ... I'm teaching the C&C essay in my class right now)!
Sadly, I completely missed the "could of" and their/they're issues. I think the parts of my brain that formerly detected such problems have been destroyed by overuse.
Seriously, the only flaw in your parody was that it didn't feature "the reason why" this and "the reason why" that. My students live and breathe the reasons why.
Regarding the interchangeable forms of "their": I find the use of "there" in place of the other two to be far more common.
Also, you forgot to make ethical judgements with statements like, "this story was very ethical because people should be allowed to make their own choices even if their wrong ones."
There is nothing, nothing, nothing like turning your back on something everybody thinks you should continue to do.
"One difference would be..."
BTW, it isn't just freshman comp. I recently graduated with an MFA/Creative Nonfiction from a well-regarded program. One of my fellow students -- graduate student, writing program, right? -- turned in a piece last semester that referred to his roommate's pre-Madonna behavior.
A former ESL teacher of adults
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