The purpose of this portfolio is to reflect my abilities, understandings, progress and achievement in Reading and Writing about Literature. I choose the Title of my portfolio to be ‘Critical Thinking’ because during class discussions the Lecturer would often say that we ‘need to think’. Therefore, reflective writing was used to show how we are thinking about a topic or situations. Reflective writing requires us as students to dig very deep when analyzing stories such as ‘Luis and The House on Mango Street’, and various poems, in an effort to find the deeper meaning.
According to Kelley Griffith, ‘A Strategy for interpreting literature, especially those works you can’t seem to get into or can’t seem to like, is to relate them to your own life and so this course has taught me to do exact that.
Here is a list of possible information to include:
According to John Locke, ‘Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.
’ Being a person who doesn’t read a lot and also been out of the classroom as a student for so long, the beginning of this course was quite a challenge for me. I had to relearn writing by breaking out of my old habits and finding something new. LIT1007 forced me to develop time management skills in order to balance home, work, and school. I created a ritualistic habit of going to bed between 1:00am and 2:00am trying to read and complete assignments on time.
I must admit that my first attempts on class assignments were very depressing especially writing Reflective Essay. The first essay I submitted I got a grade that I considered to be unacceptable and I felt dunce. However, luckily I got a chance to send a second draft, so I tried to improve my writing and my grade increased a bit. Poetry Analysis was also a challenge for me because of the figurative languages used by writers, sometimes it is difficult to see things through their eyes but with continuous practice my writing improved more and more, enhancing my writing skills and enabling me to understand literature, reading and writing. LIT1007 has taught me how to read and develop my critical thinking ability. The course allows me to thoroughly examine Cisneros book The House on Mango Street. In the book Cisneros weaves several delicate literary allusions into many of her vignettes highlighting a number of social issues with racism been the major. By reading these vignettes I engaged more deeply with the story itself. I also realized that in analyzing the different vignettes and putting them all together to form a complete story, I was reading against my own personal thoughts about the story and integrating the two through my writing.
LIT1007 showed me the relevance of team work. With the understanding that there is always going to be a lot more room and need for improvement in knowledge, this course has shown me that this improvement can be done with the help of others. The discussions I’ve had in class have also shown me how to engage with others in good intellectual discussion and how a single text can be approached and analyzed from a variety of angles. No one could escape these discussions, everyone had to participate whether or not we wanted to because Miss Brown was going to make sure that everyone has an input in class discussions. Even when I thought I was saying nonsense she made me felt confident. The course assigned everyone to work with a peer. This assignment should focus on questions that were given in class and we should choose the question of our choice. That experience was good because we did our thesis statement from in class and we got to share and I realized that, even though we had chosen the same questions we had different view and that helped me to recognize that when interpreting there is no right or wrong answer. From that experience when the big task came for me to complete my essay it was easier due to my growth at critical thinking because of this course. According to Henry Ford, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again intelligently”. I approached this task the same way I did my essay. I did multiple drafts and reread and proofread. However, there is still room for more improvement in my analysis skills and I know that with my strong determination and God’s help I will make it.
As a student majoring in English Language this course has set the foundation for me to move on to my course feeling much more confident. The writing, reading, and critical thinking skills I have learned in LIT1007 will be crucial, as academics will literally become my life in the years to come. However, I feel much more prepared for life in general than I did at the beginning of the semester. Not only have I gained new perspectives on literature and writing, I have also learned an enormous amount about myself and my capabilities.
My major challenges are:
Time management – even thought have created a plan for now, I still have to ensure that I get enough sleep so that I will be able to function all day at work without been stressed. Right now, it is working for me but this is just the beginning. During my breaking I am planning to develop a better time management plan because I know that next semester I will have to do more courses and that requires more time. I also have to take into consideration time for myself and for my family as well.
Reading on a wider scale – I do not read a lot anymore, in fact it is very hard for me just to pick up a book and read for reading sake. I will if I have to do it for school or something of importance but not for leisure. This course has made me realized that if I want to achieve very good grades I will have to start reading and not only reading but understanding the text, take notes and do research.
Strengths – patient, good communicator, very assertive and enthusiastic about learning.
Action to move forward – This course has boosted my confident and I am ready to take on whatever challenges there is for the future. I am aware that this is just the tip of the ice berg but I always remember that I cannot do it alone so I will seek help from knowledgeable source when needed.
(Discuss how a poem you did before this course has new meaning).
Before doing this course I have never really thought about a deeper meaning in any text. I would just read a poem and take it literally. Maya Angelou’s poems are always full of rhymes and repetition. Caged Bird by Maya Angelou was one of the poems that I read and I just thought of a bird in a cage that wanted to be free and go back to the hills where it fly and be free. This course has taught that title usually is of some significance to the poem and the cage bird is not really a bird, (like the House in Mango Street) but rather, it is used as a metaphor to speak to freedom for the African American women. The melodious singing of the bird despite its circumstances of having clipped wings, tied feet, and bars of rage; yet he still opens his throat and sings. This poem represents issues of racism among African American women. Even though they were not literal captured but they fell imprison surrounded by white people.
The poem paints a picture of racial discrimination and racial segregation that existed at the time. It shows how the white people would have power of the African American. Maya Angelou wrote from her heart and her own experiences and one cannot help but feel that Maya also felt trapped as a black woman and long for freedom and uses poetry as a voice to speak out and to speak for the African American society.
In the future I would recommend that this course be longer so that students do not feel pressured, since were out of school for a while and need some time to adjust especially since it the at the beginning of the course. We are English major students and this course I think is very important for us because we will be doing more writing and reading and needed more practice in analyzing text.
Ford, Henry, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again intelligently”.
Griffith, Kelley. Writing Essays about Literature A Guide and Style Sheet. Fifth Edition. Harcourt Brace, 1998. Print.
Angelou, Maya. The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)