Reading and Writing for Purpose

Course Overview

Units at a glance

Writing is a form of power, a tool of change and persuasion that can be motivated by everything from economic gain to personal pleasure. Those who do not carefully examine what they see, read, and hear are ultimately left to the mercy of those who wield the camera, the pen, or the tweet. For that reason, one of the most powerful skills you can learn is to critically read and understand everything you encounter. In this unit, you’ll begin to arm yourself with the knowledge needed to interpret information for yourself, navigate the complex challenges of real life, and use your voice for change.

Can color choice convince you to choose one bank over the other or get you to go for that clearance buy? Can good journalists make the world better for those of us who live in it? Can fake news affect an election? In an increasingly information-focused culture, the types of information you encounter and, most importantly, your understanding of the messages and purpose of that communication can make all the difference. Learn how to cut through the chaos to get to the heart of a few key questions about any piece of material you encounter: What is the message? Who is the audience? What is the purpose? Is that a trusted source? When you can answer these questions, you will have a real advantage that can help you make decisions wisely.

What happens when all that scrolling and Googling has real-life implications? Reading critically, especially in real world situations, can feel challenging, especially if you are overwhelmed. But those same critical reading skills that help you wade through information to find what’s most relevant for you and allow you to see beyond even the most enticing persuasion to focus on the task in front of you can also give you the upper hand when you have to make important decisions. Now let’s take those skills that you’re learning and put them to work, exploring, researching, and analyzing a real-life problem: relocating thousands of miles away for a great job. You’ll get a glimpse inside real world documents and contracts, practicing the skills you need to navigate one of the most exciting of life’s events.

When you’re starting your brand-new dream job, what can you expect? The first few days will probably feel like you’re experiencing an avalanche of paperwork—but what does it all mean and how can you make sure you’re making the right decisions? You’ll take the critical reading skills you’ve been building and apply them to real work situations, learning how to navigate complicated questions. You’ll learn about benefits, retirement, taxes, and federal workplace protections, among other topics, by examining the documents you’re most likely to encounter in an employee orientation.

One of the most complex reading assignments you may ever have will come when you are ready to make a significant legal or financial decision. In those moments, with contracts in front of you and decisions to make, the fine print and the clauses and addendums may feel more intimidating than you’d like. You’ll learn how to use the complicated documents you’ll encounter to your advantage, employing critical reading strategies and the use of information to make smart, savvy decisions. Being bold in your reading, questioning, and analyzing can actually transform your questions into power when it’s time to sign on the dotted line.

Working your way through a world of texts does not just happen as a consumer. Though it’s essential to learn how to critically read and understand the text you’ll encounter in your daily life, it’s equally important to learn how to use your own voice to create change and solve problems in your own life. When you encounter an issue in your own community, using your voice to advocate for change is a powerful way to change the world. Your first steps in creating that change comes in identifying a problem, researching that problem to understand it thoroughly, and harnessing your ideas to present it persuasively. Using strategies for all three of these steps can make your voice more powerful and effective.

You’ve found a problem that you want to solve and you’ve done the preliminary research. But ideas are just ideas until you put them into action. In this case, that means taking that initial planning and turning it into a draft. One of the most important stages of proposal writing is the planning and drafting stages, as these stages serve as the bridge between your ideas and real change in your community. When your ideas are clear, focused on your audience, and well-supported, your voice can make a real difference.

One of the least popular steps in the well-known writing process is the revision step. This can be the hardest one, like the last few miles of a marathon. You think you’ve hit the wall, but the best and most important steps are yet to come. It’s time to gather your strength and your creativity and take one more in-depth look at your writing. Your goal is clear: Convince your audience that you’ve found a problem that needs a solution and that you’ve found the way to solve it. Can you convey those ideas to that audience in the best, strongest way possible? Let’s walk through the final steps, to make sure that you can be proud of your final product.

Course Highlights

Learn real-world applications for your reading and writing skills.
Explore, research, and analyze the information around you.
Gain experience with work, health, and financial documents.
Solve problems using your reading and writing skills.

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