The World on the Page

Lately I’ve been thinking about learning. It happens in so many ways outside of traditional classroom instruction, but I think we’re rarely aware of it when it occurs. So I’ve been taking stock, taking time to notice how I’m learning – whether it’s by reading recreationally, surfing internet articles, or driving through an unfamiliar part of Dallas. Of all the ways I learn new information, discover new ideas, and encounter new perspectives outside of the classroom, reading students’ papers in the Writing Center has to be my favorite.

There’s a common myth about academic services (like the Writing Center, the Math Lab, and so on). The myth says that learning in a place like that is a one-way street – that students learn and tutors/consultants teach. It is true in the Writing Center that we as consultants teach students certain academic skills, and we truly hope that students learn how to improve their writing. However, it is also true that students teach us new things, and personally, I learn something new every day in the UWC.

At this point, you may be expecting me to launch into a lecture about how teaching others teaches me how to teach. But that’s not where I’m going with this.

I’ve worked in the Writing Center for three years now, and in that time, I’ve probably read 2375681736846 papers. (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea). With every one, I’ve done my part – I’ve kept my eyes peeled for grammatical errors and searched for ways the paper could be improved – but I’ve also listened, as students read, to what the papers were about. And I’ve learned so much!

I’ve learned about cell death from biology students.

I’ve learned about sports injuries from kinesiology students.

I’ve learned about the Minor Prophets from religion students.

(I could go on and on for days).

Even when I’m not encountering totally new information, hearing new perspectives is so refreshing. I’ve read about a million English 2302 papers about Tartuffe, and every student has a new insight about Molliere’s work. It never gets old.

Every new writer who walks through our doors has something unique to share, and it’s such a privilege to be the student body’s audience. We get to see the world on the page while helping students polish their papers, hone their skills, and boost their self-esteem. What could be better?

Students, it’s a blessing to serve you. So bring us your rough drafts, your outlines, your ideas. We want to learn something new from you.

Written by Caitlin

Photo credit:

A Return to Truth

So there’s this concept called ‘communication.’ Apparently humans do it in order to relay ideas to one another, and it baffles me sometimes. You see, most of my life, I’ve done my best to blend in and be unseen. A lot of that involved learning how to internalize any sort of ideas and emotions so that nobody else sees them.

But there’s more to this than just being quiet and hiding all the time. In a way, that’s the opposite of blending in, because people notice whenever you refuse to respond or have trouble answering during a conversation. Thus, I learned not only to be quiet when I could, but also the responses people look for when talking, so I could be as normal and inconspicuous as possible. In short, I learned to lie.

For a while, this worked. In fact, I was praised highly by everyone around me because I made good grades, I always played well with others, and I did my best to never upset anyone. I mastered the art of blending in, wearing a mask, and making everyone around me smile.

It did not make me happy.

That might be surprising. My mask was effective. Everyone loved me. I had a generally good effect on the world, despite how small my role in reality is. Being loved is what everybody wants in life, right? Right.

But in this case, I wasn’t the one being loved. It was the lie of myself I’d spread that made everyone like me. But love requires true understanding, and lying about who I was hindered that process. People didn’t know me; therefore they couldn’t fully love me.

Now I’m in college, on my own with a bunch of different people. I’m learning that acting like a likeable person isn’t enough, because I’m not acting like myself. I never learn whether people will actually accept me or not.

Some of the people around me most are my coworkers. I’m grateful for my job here at the Writing Center because I’m encouraged to write (this blog, for instance). Writing causes me to actually think about what I’m saying, rather than going with the gut reaction I think is socially acceptable. I appreciate the chance to develop what I want to say; to truly sit down and think in my own thoughts about how I view things

So here are my real thoughts; the ideas of a strange kind of liar who, for once, is going to say what he thinks. While it’s good to think about others around you, it’s also important to review what you think and feel. Truly thinking of others isn’t just quieting oneself so the others can be happy; it’s communicating with love. Misgivings about situations and such can be voiced without being rude or offensive, and in most cases, people appreciate the input.

So don’t partake of my habit. Talk things through with your friends and family. If you need to, write down a few paragraphs and sort it all out so you can think clearly and concisely. I know it helps me.

Written by: Isaac

For the Love of a Word

Popular culture has destroyed the meaning of the word “love.” Instead of embracing love as a constant gift from God that needs to be shared with the world, we wrongly reserve it for one of two extremes. We say that we have love for menial, materialistic objects and with people deeply close to us such as a spouse or parent, but rarely anything or anyone in between. We love football. We love tacos. We love three day weekends. We love country rap (I sure don’t, but for some reason people actually do). What we don’t always love are people outside of our families. We don’t love co-workers. We don’t love friends. We don’t love teammates. We don’t even love our boyfriends or girlfriends. Oh sure, we like them, we appreciate them, and we enjoy their existence, but we rarely tell them that we love them. I don’t deny that Christians show love in their actions and indirectly through their words, but when it comes to using the word “love” to describe our emotions, we often fall short. Just as Christians ought to use the word “love” when they mean love, so should writers consistently chose accurate words to represent their ideas.

Written language needs to be just as authentic as spoken language, but this can be difficult when a professor assigns a ten or twelve page assignment. It becomes easy to gloss over the meaning of a word and focus only on the amount of space it takes up on a page. Instead of saying: “The Cuban Missile Crisis was an important event in Cold War history,” one ends up saying: “For thirteen horrendous days in October of 1962, the United States dauntlessly stood in opposition to the callous presence of the Soviet Union in Cuba, in a significant Cold War episode that radically shifted the current of history.” When writers struggle to stretch the length of papers to the minimum word requirement, quantity quickly becomes more important than quality. In our attempts to make papers long, we unsuccessfully try to explain things we don’t understand, promote ideas we don’t believe in, and teach information that is not true. C.S. Lewis was a well-graced writer across a number of genres; he wrote works that both captured the imagination of children and engaged the minds of scholars. Lewis had this to say about word choice: “Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” This philosophy of words did not just apply to the Chronicles of Narnia. Even in Lewis’s dense works, The Screwtape Letters for example, the writer was careful to use simple words when necessary and complex words when necessary.

On the flip side of that, it is also tempting to write in a way that is elementary and easy to create, although it may not necessarily be true. John Keating, the infamous English teacher from The Dead Poets Society, calls this pure laziness: “[A]void using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.” I’m skeptical about his philosophy on wooing women—usually dinner and cheesecake will suffice for me—but Keating’s observation about writing essays is spot on. “Very tired” is easy, “exhausted” is hard, and ultimately they do not mean the same thing. One is true to the concept, the other is not. The idea that more is better is not always correct in the case of diction and syntax. Keating realizes that in some situation, to remove a word, phrase, or paragraph from an essay is to be most faithful to a subject.

The beauty of words is that they can be powerful when they are short, influential when they are long, persuasive when they are few, and memorable when they are many. To share authentic ideas may require a three sentence paragraph, or it may demand a twenty word sentence. As a writer, you have the authority to make that call, and with that power comes the responsibility to make the best word choice for the situation. The duty of a writer to unify thoughts and language is almost as critical as the command Christians have to both speak and show love. When someone’s words betray their actions, we call them a hypocrite, and so should that title befall a writer who disregards the connection between thought and truth and written language. As it says in Colossians: “Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do it all for the glory of Christ.”

This photo seems appropriate… maybe not.



Written by: Savanna

Choices for Fall Break

1. Restore Yourself Spiritually

It’s no secret that the start of school is a mad dash. In the middle of all the madness, devotional times fall by the wayside. Fall Break affords us extra time to spend with God, read His Word, and talk with Him in prayer.

2. Go to the University Writing Center

Fall Break is a great time start on those pesky term papers. Here at the Writing Center, we assist students in all stages of the writing process. So, no matter how daunting the task, we’ll help you through brainstorming, organization, thesis statements, grammar, formatting, and so on. Come see us, you’ll surely thank yourself when finals role around and everyone else is scrambling.

3. Drink Seasonal Coffees

This Fall Break, checkout Starbucks’s seasonal coffees, but if you’re too hipster for that or if you’re a do-it-yourself type, take a look at this link of specialty drinks:

4. Spend Time with Family

If it’s your first semester in college, this is priority two for you! While your parents and siblings are at work and school, use this time to serve them in a special way. Make your family dinner or take your brother or sister to school. Set-up an outing or in-house event to enjoy quality time with your family.

5. Enjoy A Book for Yourself

You’re half way through the fall semester, and those incomplete summer reads are calling your name. All those books you bought at Half Price when you were feeling really ambitious are now gathering dust, but they’ve been patiently waiting. Find some free time and do some reading for yourself.

6. Take A Mini

Mini Terms are intense classes that condense the content of one semester into one week. Yes, you’ll spend your break week working away, but it is well worth the class credit and knowledge that you can gain. Mini terms allow students to devote their undivided attention to a single subject while quickly advancing in their degree.

7. Tie Up Loose Ends

If you’re falling behind academically, there is no better time than Fall Break to complete assignments that have stack up and finalize projects. Also, many finals are the week after the break, so be sure to study.

8. Select That Winter Wardrobe

It’s never too early to start preparing for the colder months. If you’re new to Dallas, try visiting some of our renowned malls such as the Galleria, North Park Mall, or the Parks Mall in Arlington.

9.Find Pumpkin Recipes

Fall is the season of the pumpkin. To celebrate, try carving some pumpkins and making a dish out of the remains. Baked pumpkin seeds are a personal favorite.

10. Mission Trips

DBU offers many opportunities to share the Gospel domestically and internationally. While the primary reason for going on a mission trip is sharing the Gospel, there are many benefits such as learning about other cultures, gaining experience in travel, and creating new relationships.



Written by: John Brock