Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Today I'm sitting in my office working on a keynote lecture I'll be giving later in the day, and a student introduces herself. She is a 5th year senior, majoring in Chemistry, and she tells me she is taking both her upper and lower division theology courses with me next semester so she can graduate. Here at Xavier students must take an upper and lower division theology course as part of the core requirements. Anyway, she tells me she is nervous because there will be papers to write for my courses and she has never written a paper. This shocked me, and we spoke for a while, and she was as amazed about this as I was. I asked about English, and she said she had to take one ENglish class, and while papers were required, she didn't turn any in, and still got a B in the course. She explained this by saying it was the teacher's first year here at Xavier. Then I asked about philosophy, and she said she is taking logic to satisfy this requirement and no papers. It miraculously seems like Theology is the only place here on campus that is teaching students to write. This explains to me partly why students have such a difficult time with these assigments, and why the writing suffers from so many errors, including subject verb agreement, possessives, and misspellings. I think this student will have a hard time in my class, when suddenly she will have two classes with four papers in each class. We talked about the writing center and other resources. Anyway, I was amazed that someone could complete four years of college at Xavier (or anywhere) and never have had to write a paper. Incredible.