Saturday, January 07, 2006

I am in a painfully foul mood.

And I'm not sure why. I suspect the components include:
  • Getting my legal writing grade back.
  • Not enough break in my break.
  • Dirty house.
  • Having to be around law students again.
  • The fact that law students, at least in their/our schooly interactions with one another, are notably lacking in humility and a sense of humor.* Self-deprecation? Bah! That's not funny! That's for weaklings!
  • Feeling kind of raw and therefore finding other people's egos both tiresome and painful.
That last bit seems to be related to something I've been noticing for the last couple of years. I've become weirdly sensitive to primate ego posturing. I keep having these moments where I'm interacting with someone, and they start doing that, and it's like I suddenly see a schematic of the person's weird psychic machinery, and it makes me feel sad and disconnected and odd. I'm having a hard time describing this. It's like I'm Keanu in some kind of psychological Matrix. Time even seems to slow down a bit. Very disturbing.

As to the legal writing grade, for this 25% of the year's grade, I'm somewhere in the B+ zone. Which is fine, given the (very low) level of (non-)effort I put into the class. But I am finding it frustrating that although we had about a million stupid little required (but ungraded) assignments over the course of the quarter, this is the first time we've been given any substantive feedback on anything. I'm also annoyed because the points I lost, I lost on format and on legal writing conventions. Which I'm having difficulty internalizing. Why? Um, could it be that over the entire quarter, we were shown ONE example of the kind of memos we're writing? Could it be that we never workshop student writing in class? Could it be that we have no idea of the audience we're writing for? Could it be that we don't write enough to actually learn anything? Could it be that the course's instructional goals were never mentioned prior to the end-of-quarter "self reflection" exercise? Could it be that this course ignores every major principle of writing pedagogy AND of instructional design for adults? Yeah, that might be a factor. (Along with my disengagement, which I'll own.)

Without experiencing this format as a reader (as a member of the discourse community) and seeing how it works, it's not really possible to adopt it as a writer, except in a "because I said so" way, which isn't particularly effective. As a former writing instructor, I can think of about a dozen ways get this stuff across better. None of which will ever be attempted in this course. Sigh. But for myself, basically, if I put more effort to starting drafts very early, and just kind of phone it in on the silly ungraded assignments (most of which don't require any meaningful writing), and make some effort to scrounge up about 8-10 good memo examples to see how they work, I'll be fine.

*Do "humility" and "humor" share a root? Perhaps with...human? Just wondering. This guy suggests they derive from "humus," since we all rot.


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