Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Expanding Universe

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Expanding Universe

Article excerpt

I hate writing without a word processor. It isn't just that my handwriting is illegible (it is--if I could, I would type everything rather than use a pen). The word processor gives me the obsessive freedom to hang on to all of those false starts and, sometimes, cull the best parts of them into my final copy. In fact, what might have been false starts when writing with paper and pen, clumsy struggles that would have filled the plastic pail beside my desk, become instead self-reflection, my mind grappling with my ideas, my knowledge, my inspirations--and my insecurities. The fragments of thought staggered across my computer screen can be shuffled and re-shuffled, dealt, palmed, stacked, in seemingly endless combinations until suddenly something begins to take shape, and I have words I can live with. The word processor has changed the way I write, the way I think, and even the way I teach.

My first semester in a computerized classroom, I abandoned the lectern and sat side by side with students over their documents, helping them tease meaning from the words on the screen, helping them shape the emerging meaning into something they could accept as theirs with pride. I watched students who had been frightened of writing grow more confident. And while the computer didn't make them better writers, it did make the process easier and less painful. …

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