I knew from the day the course began things were going to be difficult. The teacher arrived late; he was perspiring and gasping for breath. His tardiness was inexcusable and his disheveled appearance reduced the sincerity of his apology. “What a douche”, I muttered under my breath. The semester and his reputation were tarnished in a matter of minutes.
As time progressed my initial assessment of Mr. Gasparo was confirmed. Classes were a waste of time, and I cannot recall an instance where I thought otherwise. Much, if not all, of what was done in person could have been completed at home. It is unnecessary to have a teacher read assignments aloud when they are posted on Blackboard or presented in print. Peer critiques were seldom helpful and rarely graded, so there was little incentive for other classmates to participate. It would have been more beneficial if students were to email each other their drafts and actually spend a reasonable amount of time editing them in a more comfortable setting. In retrospect the emphasis placed on attendance held little value, because missing class was never missing much.
The time I had spent in class was made more unpleasant by meaningless lessons and activities. Mr. Gasparo’s lectures were disorganized and oftentimes irrelevant to English composition. Days were spent discussing healthcare reform and watching Michael Moore movies in a haphazard attempt to introduce rhetorical appeals. While his intentions were good, his methods were ineffective. I believe introducing ethos, logos, and pathos in literary context would have made it easier for students to integrate it into their writing. His affinity for the overrated musician, Bruce Springsteen, also led to several unproductive classes. I can understand Mr. Gasparo’s reasoning for incorporating Springsteen’s work into the class; to illustrate different writing processes, however I’d suggest studying the creative processes of authors, not musicians. Overall, I found his lectures to be obstructive to improving my writing.
Assignments throughout the semester were anything but beneficial to the advancement of my writing. Recently, my class was prompted to complete a well-constructed argument essay. I found the research process to be informative, and ultimately it changed my perception of my topic. However, the accompanying presentation we are required to give to the class falls outside the boundaries of a composition course. Being judged on how well we argue and present information in a speech should be saved for a public speaking class. Forcing students to endure these insignificant and likely erroneous arguments is a waste of everybody’s time, and will not improve the way we write in future courses. The ultimate affront was the decision made by Mr. Gasparo to allow our fellow classmates to determine the grade we received for these presentations. It was because of this that I could no longer take the class seriously, and my work and motivation began to deteriorate as the semester ended.
Reflecting on this semester I would have to suggest that the greatest issues I had with Mr. Gasparo were his organization and communication skills. The constant changes to the course calendar left many students, including myself, to become oblivious of revised due dates and new assignments. It was almost weekly that I was informed of a new calendar update via email. These revisions became so commonplace I stopped checking unless Mr. Gasparo or my peers explicitly stated it in class. The communication, or lack thereof, severely inhibited the effectiveness of his teachings. Mr. Gasparo’s inability to convey exactly what he wanted in his prompts hindered the quality of my work. The argument prompt for example, was five pages long and was overflowing with obscured requirements. This paper I am writing now was another unseen requirement for a larger assignment given to the class months earlier. It is as if you are wading through a tub of shit in order to find something meaningful at the bottom. Admittedly, his shortcomings in initial explanations are made up for by his willingness to answer questions outside of class.
While it may appear that I am belittling Mr. Gasparo, I still retain some amount of respect for him. Honestly, I doubt I could do any better as a teacher. He is learning how to best do his job, and his efforts must be commended. Despite my respect for him, and all teachers for that matter, he still does not earn my recommendation for future students. Perhaps in time he will mature into an effective and admirable professor, but from my experience it won’t happen anytime soon.