The State University of New York at Albany

English 303Z
Section 1
Fall, 1996
Instructor: Robert Yagelski

Essay #2: Reflective Analysis


The focus of this assignment is on your reflections on the experiences that you and your classmates described in Essay #1. In effect, this assignment asks you to think carefully about those experiences and write about what those experiences tell us about schools, education, and our attitudes toward both.

You have some flexibility regarding how you might proceed with this assignment. You might, for example, select one or two of the essays you and your classmates wrote for the first assignment that seem to you to focus on similar themes; in your essay, you could explore those themes and how they play out in the essays you chose to write about. Or you might choose to write about a dominant theme that emerged from your reading of all the essays for the first assignment. For instance, if you were struck by how many students wrote about a specific teacher for the first assignment, you might write about the apparent importance of teachers in education and their role in shaping our experiences in schools. You are, of course, free to write about your own essay or about any of your classmates' essays for this assignment.

Whatever you choose to write about, keep in mind the primary purpose of this assignment: to explore important issues or themes that are emerging from our discussions about education and our telling of our own experiences in schools. In this essay, you should focus on the things that seem most important, most crucial to you about our various experiences in schools. Your purpose is NOT simply to give your impressions of your classmates' essays, but to look carefully at what they've written and try to see what their essays, taken together, tell us about schools and about education. What similarities and/or differences do you see in the experiences your classmates have written about? What do their experiences say about schools, about education, about our cultural attitudes toward education? What do they tell us about our beliefs regarding education and how those beliefs affect the way schools work. What do they reveal about how we think, in this culture, about education? What conclusions can you draw after reading these essays? You should try to draw conclusions about how schools work--and about how we think about schools--where appropriate. Also, feel free to refer to any of the readings we've done so far (for example, Kidder's book or the selections by Angelou, Rondinone, or Malcolm X).

Your essay should explore these issues is a focused and organized way. Do not simply write a paragraph or two about each essay. Look for connections, themes, patterns, issues that arise throughout these essays. And look for insights that these essays have for us.

Like the first assignment, this one should be about 1000 words in length. Keep in mind that your primary audience is composed of your classmates and that your purpose is to help further our collective inquiry into the nature of education.


A complete draft of this assignment is due by Friday, September 27.

The final version of the essay is due in class on Friday, October 4.

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