Lakeland Faculty – Joanna Whestone, Ph. D., Composition
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Lakeland Faculty – Joanna Whestone, Ph. D., Composition

August 23, 2019


When I was in my bachelor’s degree,
I was — I got a bachelor of science in writing, and I always thought I wanted to do advertising and marketing. I always loved the writing piece, but didn’t realize there were all these other moving pieces in order to understand all of that, I also had to understand some of the math and business stuff that — That I wasn’t really something that I was passionate about. So, the one commonality from year to year, I always loved the writing and so then I realized, wait I can I could actually do that as a career and help other people be passionate about writing. But I love the college atmosphere. I love the freedom of the classroom. I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to be able to really engage older minds and get them to think critically and play around with some of the essays and just ways that I wouldn’t have been able to do in an elementary school. I love the idea that I can do that and having some freedom to shake it up every semester, picking different texts and them excited about things that are going on around the world and getting them to express their thoughts about it. So I think the college classroom
is an opportunity. It’s like a little playground for critical thinking, so I just enjoy it. For composition I always feel like no matter what your journey in life, it’s always important that you know how to express yourself thoughtfully and critically and carefully. Whether it’s in email or an essay, I feel like being able to teach students how to identify what the purpose of their writing is and how to best express it is helpful regardless of where they’re going in life. So what we try to do is these kinds of brainstorming sessions and what do you really think about those issues and so we do have them kind of flush out their own ideas and kind of take ownership of those ideas and then translate them into writing. Part of what we do is to make sure that they do have a refined sense of not just sentence structure but putting — putting their thoughts together clearly and concisely, creatively to be able to take that out into the workforce. Without having writing skills, I think, they might know the information but if they can’t express that information, then that doesn’t give them that leg up from other people in the field. I mean the origins of college, initially, were to create civic-minded human beings, well-rounded individuals, who know a little bit about everything and they delve into their degree because it’s something they’re particularly passionate about, but they leave college with an arsenal of sorts that they know something about all kinds of things, and writing is certainly a component of any kind of career that you want. So, rather than thinking about it as why they need one course or another course, I think that we all kind of feed off of each other and that we support each other through, you know, the writing and the math and the humanities and — the most well-rounded individuals can come out so that you know — you know about the world around you. It’s not just writing, it’s so many other things. It’s about learning to critically think. It’s about learning to share ideas and exchange ideas and talk to people who don’t agree with your own positions and what does that look like in writing, and what does that look like in a dialogue in the classroom? And those are all skills I think we can take into other classes and our careers no matter where we go.

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