Here’s one thing I learned this semester: applying a theme to a required composition course makes the course more enjoyable for my students AND for me. It turns out that “The Pursuit of Happiness” is a topic that matters to all of us. Because really, who doesn’t want to be happy?
One of my students, Saskia Romero, was so fired up about writing during the semester that she began a blog (musclesndmascara.com), where she posted her research essay and which I reblogged here yesterday. I hope you’ll appreciate her essay as much as I did. She told me that she’d forgotten until this semester how much she enjoyed writing and has had a ball sharing her thoughts on a healthy lifestyle through frequent blogging. In addition, if you’re interested in some really interesting and wholesome recipes, check out her site; I’m gearing up for a batch of her avocado hummus as I write this.
It was rewarding for me to help inspire the variety of conclusions my students reached about the ways in which we pursue happiness. Students wrote about the importance of relationships, pursuing a rewarding career, leaving a legacy for others, composing or listening to music, spirituality, or engaging in healthy life habits like exercise or helping others. One surprise was the many comments I received from the men in one of my class sections. I think men are less likely to reflect on what brings happiness than women are, and several of them commented at the end of the semester on how much they enjoyed the opportunity to consider the source of happiness in their lives.
I’m so pleased with the results of the theme-focused course that I think I’ll use this theme again for my Composition I classes in the fall. As an instructor, I’ve always wanted my students to enjoy writing, because it’s an activity I’m passionate about. This spring I think I came closer to that goal than ever before. I couldn’t be happier.