During our last unit in English 9, I learned that writers use various literary techniques to achieve humor for a reader or audience. By analyzing the plays from Alan Ayckbourn’s Confusions, I learned that not only can humor be presented in dialogue, but also in stage directions. For example, in the play Mother Figure, I found this scene particularly interesting:
Lucy: “Look who’s watching you.”
Lucy: (picking up a doll) “Mr Poddle. Mr Poddle’s watching you. (She holds up the doll) You don’t want Mr Poddle to see you crying, do you? Do you?”
Rosemary: “(lamely) No…”
Here, Ayckbourn effectively employs humor by using the literary technique of irony, and stage directions. In this situation, Rosemary is being comforted by a toy named Mr Poddle, a doll clearly intended for a child. Because the context of Rosemary’s problems is quite serious and mature, the effectiveness of using a doll to cheer up a grown adult is incredibly ironic and humorous to the audience. Ayckbourn also carefully selects actions to convey humor, by having Lucy repeatedly holding up the doll. The constant use of the prop reminds the audience of Lucy’s odd yet effective method of cheering up another adult.
In the second stage of the unit, we wrote a CER paragraph on a selected humorous poem from the Poem Anthology. I learned that poetry can be equally as amusing as a play and serve the purpose of the poet through the use of literary techniques. In the poem We Oppose Pockets for Women by Alice Duer Miller, the poem focused heavily on the use of sarcasm and irony to effectively achieve a humorous result and express the poet’s purpose. Miller purposefully uses a very pleasant tone when expressing very obvious absurd and unreasonable statements, which helps her imply that anti-feminists and anti-suffrages are ridiculous. By simply saying, “pockets are not a natural right” (line 1), she achieves humor because the audience is able to recognize that of course, pockets are a natural right. Not only does make the audience laugh, but it makes anyone who denies her seem illogical. Although it was great to experience analyzing a new text type, I certainly have a lot of areas to improve on that I hope to apply in English 10.
I’d say that I achieved my SMART goal to a certain extent but struggled a lot during the process. At the beginning of this unit, my SMART goal was to write a clear and organized CER and dialectical journal while meeting the deadlines I set for myself. As the unit continued, I learned that it was very difficult to meet these deadlines with concise and quality work because I wasn’t initially aware how long each assignment would take me to complete. I initially planned to work on both the dialectical journals and CER paragraph at the same time; however, I found that the quality of my work improved when I focused all of my attention on only one assignment at a time. I extended my dialectical journal entry deadline because five journals took longer than anticipated to complete. In addition, because I found it difficult to overlap assignments, I extended my CER paragraph and blog post deadline so that I could offer all of my focus to each assignment at a time. Therefore, I didn’t meet my original deadlines, but because of the buffer time I gave myself initially, I was able to meet my extended deadlines.
In this unit, I found it particularly challenging to be concise and straightforward with my writing. When analyzing both Alan Ayckbourn’s play Mother Figure and Alice Duer Miller’s poem Why We Oppose Pockets for Women, my first instinct would be to write down all of my ideas and then revise and cut down after. The only problem was that it was very challenging for me to revise and reduce my writing. Because of this issue, sometimes my writing became very repetitive and incoherent. However, after gaining feedback and advice from both teachers and classmates, I gained new insight on how to analyze my writing for its important points, and to be more explicit with my reasoning.
For the Student as a Learner criterion, I think I scored satisfactory for both responsibility and attitude. In regard to the responsibility standard, during the unit, I sought feedback from Ms. Wong about my dialectical journals that not only helped me improve my writing for the specific assignment but also helped prepare me for English 10. I also requested feedback from three other students in hopes to make my writing as clear and coherent as possible. I tried to utilize all the sources provided – such as videos of Ayckbourn’s plays and CER paragraph exemplars – in order to have a better understanding of the project and to take advantage of the materials given. I think I planned ahead and took initiative of my deadlines for the unit because I gave myself buffer times before the last deadline date. However, I think there were still areas for me to plan my time better, because I did end up having to extend many of my submission times during the unit. In terms of the attitude standard, I think I set realistic goals to complete my work by my intended deadlines and pushed my boundaries even when I found certain aspects of the unit especially difficult. However, one thing I could improve on for the future is to contribute more ideas to English lessons to enrich the learning environment. During lessons, I try to provide as many ideas as I can, but I often hold myself back in fear that my answers will be wrong.
As the school year comes to an end, it is time to look forward to English 10. After reflecting upon my experiences and challenges in English 9, there are many aspects in the English classroom that I would like to improve. However, my main goal for English 10 is to continue to push myself to my best abilities, while setting boundaries on my work’s level of “perfection”. This year I learned that although it is important to turn in something you pour your heart and soul into, it is also important to be kind to yourself and understand your limits.