Dr. Ed Vavra's ENL 111: Composition Course

Statement of Instructor's Course Philosophy (continued)

To those who have, much is given;
to those who have not, much is taken away.

Matthew 13:12

     When I was young, I was often troubled by this Biblical statement. It didn't sound very Christian. I am writing this, however, in the midst of grading a set of essays for this course. I just finished a very short essay, about which I had little to say. Previously, I had graded a longer essay, and I had a lot to say. As I took a break to get a cup of coffee and light a pipe, I was bothered by the fact that I hadn't made many comments on the last, short, essay. Then the Biblical statement flashed through my mind. I felt better. In my youth, I had focused on the "given," i.e., the apparent lack of Christian charity. But perhaps the focus should be on the "have." What do they "have"? How do they "have" it? The student who had a longer paper had it because she had put in more time and effort, and had paid attention to my frequent suggestions to use a lot of examples. The shorter paper, in spite of all the help that is available here at Penn College, had only one example (and a poor one at that). Perhaps what the Bible means, in this case, is "To those who produce, much is given; to those who produce not, much is taken away." The situation reminds me of another Christian proverb, "God helps those who help themselves." If it's good enough for God, it's good enough for me.
       If you want to do well in this course, all you have to do is to produce. Because of Penn College's placement exams and its excellent academic support system, everyone entering this course has the capability to pass it. In some cases, passing will require a lot of work, a lot of visits to the Tutoring Center, and a lot of conferences with your instructor. Use these resources -- that's what we're here for.