All Posts Tagged With: "writing"
Universities help first-year students with mentors and more
Shari-Ann Baker, who was born and raised in Jamaica, moved to Toronto in 2010 to attend York University. Her first assignment was an essay for a Canadian studies course. Baker got a B, a mark she was able to improve after learning about the school’s Writing Centre: Her next assignment, for a sociology course, received an A. York’s various facilities, programs and clubs, such as the Community of United Jamaicans, were invaluable in helping her get settled. “People say you’ll get worse grades than in high school,” says Baker, now 22, in her fourth year of a linguistics degree. “If you take advantage of resources on campus, I don’t think it’s a problem.”
First year is a precarious time, fraught with new challenges and responsibilities—both academic and personal. Suddenly, “the world sees you as an adult,” says Barry Townshend, manager of the Centre for New Students at the University of Guelph. “A lot of responsibility comes with that,” from getting to class on time to paying rent, not to mention choosing an academic direction that will help with a future career. It’s a lot of pressure, all at once. Universities are increasingly finding a way to support students through this transition with writing centres, advisers, academic coaches and mentors.
Students should learn to build arguments, not write entries
All professors have to deal with what Noah Geisel has recently termed The Wikipedia Dilemma. With the online encyclopedia now the largest in the world, freely available, and ubiquitous on the web, the problem is evident. Should a prof forbid students from using Wikipedia or embrace it as a modern research tool without equal?
The case for Wikipedia is obvious: it’s easy to access, simple to use, and covers a far wider range of material than any other reference work. And though it may occassionally be subject to error, as all reference works are, its eminent editability keeps it relatively accurate and incredibly up to date. I once read an article about quicksand, and curious to know more about it, checked Wikipedia, only to find the article I had just read, an article that had been published that very day, cited among the sources.
Annual contest publishes the most hilarious examples
Each year, Times Higher Education, Britain’s premiere authority on universities, holds a contest. Lecturers submit the most egregious — and hilarious — mistakes that they’ve read in student essays and exams. Next week they will choose a winner.
But they’ve released the first round of entries already. Our favorite so far is that submitted by Ann Wood from the department of biochemistry at King’s College London. In a food science and technology course, a student advised on a test that it was necessary to use a “genital mixing action.”
We’ll report the winner next week. In the meantime, read a few more entires here.
Are you a TA or a professor? Have your students written something dumb? If so, please share in the comments section.
Want to get to Hollywood? Start writing, start shooting, and don’t ever stop networking
After a tough day of classes, you’re sprawled out on the couch watching television. In a flash of inspiration, you suddenly realize that you hate your chemistry classes and would rather be a writer on a television show. You think to yourself, “Heck! I could totally write an episode of Heroes that is way better than this one.”
So you sit down at your laptop, fingers poised delicately over the keys, ready to become famous. But how can you actually make it happen?
“I think to be a writer, you have to write,” says Michael Baser, head of the writing for television and film program at the Vancouver Film School.
“To be a director or an actor, you have to be hired to give yourself validation. You can’t be up in your room doing Othello at night and say, ‘Ok, I’m an actor.’ But you can be in your room at night and writing a script, then having a script in hand – you are now a writer.”
Once that script is written, though, it needs to go somewhere. Ultimately – and perhaps unsurprisingly – that somewhere is Los Angeles, where who you know will make a big difference.
“The key thing in T.V. and film is that it’s a highly nepotistic business,” says Baser. He says his own career, in which he produced and wrote for shows including Three’s Company and Full House, started because he was talented but also because he knew the right people.
For someone sitting at home in Canada, making those connections might seem impossible. The key, according to Laura Doyle, screenwriting teacher at VFS and the British Columbia Institute of Technology, is getting your foot in the door.
“I started out in Television Production at BCIT learning to produce, shoot and edit. After I graduated, I got myself some jobs as a production assistant on set,” she says. This ultimately led to a job as a script coordinator and the opportunity to co-write an episode of Neon Rider.
From there, Doyle wrote for MTV and CBS, during which she lived – you guessed it – in Los Angeles. Her career blossomed to include music, some of which was featured on Dawson’s Creek.
What’s important for young writers to remember, say both Baser and Doyle, is the idea of being prolific – to keep writing, and if possible, producing lots of your own original content. The Internet can provide a perfect showcase for your blossoming genius.