Having accomplished this initial narrative work, Kevin then orients his listeners to the primary story he has to tell, setting it in his 10th grade English class. Revealing the complicating action of the story, Kevin tells how his English teacher assigned his Hamlet essay a score of “fifty-two out of a hundred”; how she chose seven sentences from the set of papers that were handed in from the class to use for instructional purposes; and how she evaluated these sentences as “stylistically problematic.” Four of these sentences, Kevin reveals, came from his own essay, a judgment severe enough to convince him that he was a poor writer, despite his placement in an Honors English class.

To indicate his personal and professional opposition to his teacher and her pedagogical approach, Kevin evaluates his high school instructor’s behavior from his own current perspective as a collegiate teacher of composition: “looking back,” he suggests that her instructional approach was ineffective, and notes that it negatively shaped his confidence as a writer. Offering an oppositional reading of his own 10th grade performance, he re-interprets his work as an early attempt to master academic writing by attempting a stylistic approach that was “probably beyond my capabilities.”

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