All posts by Cindy Rodrigues

“Rhetoric & Composition” by Janice Lauer

Honestly, just from the title I thought this was going to be a difficult read. But my assumptions were wrong. Overall, it was a very insightful chapter. I enjoyed jumping through time periods where rhetoric and composition were evolving and being comprehended. I appreciated what Janice Lauer mentioned on Page 3 of Chapter 2 ,“ In most cases, if students decide to major or even to do graduate work in English, they assume they will be studying literature. What these students often do not realize is that “English” also encompasses the discipline of rhetoric and composition”. Whenever I tell anyone that I am studying English, they always assume I am going to be a High School teacher who just reads books to students everyday. English is such a broad subject, where people emerge and become scholars, authors, and enlighten other curious scholars. It is beyond belief considering we’re in the 21st century where people have PHDs in this subject. Janice Lauer touched on the emergence of writing, the composing process, teaching of writing, different styles of writing, and even disagreements when it comes to the topic of rhetoric and composition. Many inventions such as journaling encouraged students to explore connections within themselves to make their writing more originative and authentic. 

As an Asian American student, born in Bangladesh, I had the opportunity to be raised in the United States at such a young age I was not put into ESL classes. However, many of my peers lost out on opportunities because of the diversity aspect of their education. Lauer had cited that scholars have made it more accessible for ESL students to be taught rhetoric and composition based on their culture. I highly support this approach, as it involves the students’ culture, hence comfortability in understanding writing language and composition. Since we’re on this topic of students, I was scrolling through TikTok this weekend, and I am on the side of Teacher Tok. Multiple educators have been bringing awareness to the fact many students are struggling to read basic words. A 7th grade teacher mentioned that his student could not spell “Window”. He was appalled at the lack of students knowing how to formulate sentences at a 7th grade level. This brings me to the topic of Foundationalism. I read that collaboration and making students evaluate their peers’ work makes their knowledge of rhetoric and composition stronger. Perhaps teachers can start making groups for students who are struggling to read and compose so they know that they are not alone in this struggle. Maybe they can even jump off of each others ideas when coming up with stronger sentences. 

I can fully agree that textbooks do not help students whatsoever. Majority of the time in High School, I barely understood what the reading was trying to say. I would read the pages assigned and wait for the teacher to explain everything because I had little to no idea what was being discussed. This issue continues today because there are still a set of rules on how a person is supposed to read, and how it is supposed to be comprehended. I read very fast, and I pretend as if I am reading a script because it helps me understand better. Whereas someone else may read very fast, and monotoned but understand the text a lot more differently than I did. Teachers and sometimes even scholars need to understand that rhetoric and composition is still being studied today. More theories are being brought to light, new research is emerging and students are eager to learn about these new discoveries. As a writer, this insightful reading has just proved to me that English is not just teaching Gatsby to a bunch of 11th graders. So much dedication goes to understanding this broad subject. Traditions are changing, diversity helps comprehend everything so much better, and simply understanding that everyone has a different way of taking in information and formulating it. 

A pen, paper, and an empty room

On August 1st of the year 2000, a barely alive Cindy Rodrigues was brought into the United States, New York to be exact. I grew up in Queens, the most diverse, hardworking, and ambitious borough of NYC. I went to school with people just like me, but not really because I always fell in the middle. My fellow Bangladeshi people thought I was Latino, whereas Latinos thought I was faking my last name. Thus, started my fear of crowds, public speaking, participating in anything and ultimately growing up with severe anxiety. To the point where, as an adult  I would order my Dunkin coffee on the app to avoid speaking to anyone. I’d then proceed to panic in my car because I’d have to walk in and grab my drink in front of everyone. What a way to live am I right? 

I went through a lot of phases in my life in terms of career and aspirations. My parents are hardworking immigrants who moved to this country for a better future, basically the whole spiel. You know it, I know it. As the honorary black sheep of the family, I did not become a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or lawyer that I was bred to be. Instead, I struggled with figuring out my passion until a literal global pandemic came rushing in. I was locked in my house with my very sick mother, two teenage  siblings and a father trying to handle this overwhelming situation. During the first few months of Covid, my mother was one of the first personal cases we were dealing with. We really thought she was going to pass away. Thankfully, she charged through this illness. Anyways,  I was locked up in my house, also working at Walgreens at the time, which was next to a hospital that literally had dead bodies outside because they ran out of room. I would write and write my days away. I do not like talking about my feelings ever, with anyone. So, I revert to writing them. My dark humor and rough upbringing definitely adds a lot of soul to my poetry. Oh, did I mention I write poetry? I currently work at a High School in Queens for students who are on the autism spectrum. I absolutely adore them; they’re one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. I wanted to share my love for writing so a colleague and I decided to start a writing club. We teach the students how to use their creativity and put it into words; some of them even publish on WATTPAD. It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to help any students who may be struggling like I did, and also for the students to know that they are never alone. 

Now here we are, at the end of my first blog post. This was truly a hard one because talking about myself is something I despise doing; I never know where to start. I always think no one really cares and my life is not that interesting. Although, I am excited to come back to this post when I am a published poet, teaching my Intro to Creative Writing course with all of my anxious students. I will share this post with them, as I did with my High Schoolers and once again show them that they are not alone. I just hope whoever reads this post understands that not all people are shy and mysterious. Some people truly cannot make the words to participate and initiate conversations. Not all people have the social battery to keep engaging and making sure everyone is entertained. But at the end of the day, we do have thoughts to share. We just might need a pen and paper, and an empty room.