Monday, June 3, 2013

Define "Marinate your Attitude"

The first set of academic essays I helped grade this semester focused on "Tips for Incoming College Students." The young writers at City College were to pretend they were giving advice to someone who'd soon be in their shoes. A particular sentence has stuck with me for four months. It was clearly not written in academic English but it still holds a lot of meaning.

The sentence: 

College is a place that teaches young people to be more responsible, and it's also a place where students can marinate a better attitude.

It's an odd metaphor but it makes some rhetoric sense, right?

Marinating is an amelioration of a food that often tastes okay–perhaps just average–before the process of seasoning. Good flavor can turn a cut of meat or a helping of vegetables into something exceptional, sometimes offering the taster a flavor that's never grazed her taste buds before.

The question is, how long does the attitude have to sit in all the herbs, spices, oils, etc., before it comes out the way it's supposed to? 

Who decides the ultimate worth? The chef (student) or the food-critic (teacher)?

I think every day offers an opportunity to improve one's attitude, and I thank this student, whom I'll never meet, for his inspiration, however bizarre. Given all the institutional instability our City College students have faced the past several months, I'd say this young rhetor developed a great attitude, and I think he deserves a second helping of whatever meat he marinates at the next family gathering.

I thank him for his odd sentence. It has encouraged me to have a better attitude toward such writing.

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