An analytical reading of the article, “Some Lessons from the Assembly Line” by Andrew Braaksma revealed the author’s goal has changed. Initially, it was understood that the author’s goal was to inform his audience of the importance of higher education and to work hard. Thus, the initial interpretation was based on the belief that he intended to persuade the audience by stressing the differences in on-campus life versus off-campus life. Now, the understanding is that the author’s aim was not to persuade the audience by noting the differences between on and off campus life, but instead, to explain that education is invaluable, can provide a more stable career, and not undervalue hard work. In his statement, “Factory life has shown me what my future might have been like had I never gone to college in the first place” (Braaksma, para. 6), he recounted his experiences as a factory worker to prove the significance of the investment in higher education and that lessons aren’t only learned in school.
Through the application of analytical reading techniques, it became clear that two of the original key points mentioned previously weren’t strong enough to support the author’s goal. Therefore, a choice was made to identify more specific key points that will provide a stronger foundation in support of the author’s claim. One key point from the initial reading of the article was the author struggled with the reality of the blue-collar worker wage, as opposed to the life he could be afforded as a degreed professional. The second key point was the author’s feeling of guilt for using his blue-collar summer job to benefit his financial desire to finish his education while others made the life of labor their livelihood. The third and most profound key point was when the author displays maturity and growth gained by working hard for his money and his dream.
The most appropriate audience for this essay will be graduating high school seniors because they have the most to gain from Braaksma’s insight. This group consists of adolescents, between the ages of 17 and 19, contemplating a future in college or the workforce after high school. Providing adequate content to support the argument reasoning could be one potential challenge while presenting to this particular audience. Another likely challenge will be if the audience does not agree with the reasoning or evidence presented and disputes the interpretation in support of the author’s goal. Appealing to young adults with little to no financial responsibilities or experience outside of their parental home will also be a challenge. The author hinted at this mentality in his article but sets a good example for those students who face a decision similar to his.
The goal I hope to accomplish at the end of this critical analysis essay is to effectively convey support of the author’s views that education is invaluable, can provide a more stable career, and not undervalue hard work. The state of the future is in the hands of the youth, and education should be at the forefront. Though the blue-collar worker’s strong work ethic and willingness to labor more intensely for their earnings is commendable, the career stability and higher salary from having a degree are less stressful. Consequently, knowledge opens countless doors that would otherwise be closed to the typical blue-collar worker. Joining the workforce with a strong educational foundation offers more leverage and unlimited earning potential in the competitive job market. Therefore, providing additional context will give the audience insight into my decision to agree with the author.
As mentioned in the first key point, the writer struggled with feeling undervalued in his role as a blue-collar laborer and it was obvious in his statement, “There are few things as cocksure as a college student who has never been out in the real world” (Braaksma, para. 4). The mindset of putting in a few labor hours and receiving a huge payout is not a concept easily grasped by young adults. They tend “to overestimate the value of their time and knowledge” (Braaksma, para. 4). He expresses his disbelief further by saying, “After a particularly exhausting string of 12-hour days at a plastics factory, I remember being shocked at how small my check seemed” (Braaksma, para. 4). However, campus living is expensive and a part-time food service or retail job is not as financially rewarding as the overtime pay from the factory and savings by staying at home during the summertime. (Braaksma, 2005)
Struggles of life in the factory begin to weigh heavily on the author’s conscience as implied in key point two. Evidence of the author’s guilt is shown when he utters,
“Many people pass their lives in the places I briefly work, spending 30 years where I spend only two months at a time. When fall comes around, I get to go back to a sunny and beautiful campus, while work in the factories continues. At times I feel almost voyeuristic, like a tourist dropping in where other people make their livelihoods” (Braaksma, para. 8).
Even though the assembly line and equipment required his full attention, Braaksma could not free himself from the need to fulfill his educational requirements, so he garnished a way to sneak in some reading on the job. Noticing his commitment to his studies, one of his coworkers encouraged him to “study hard and keep reading” because she knew firsthand how years of unrelenting physical labor can wear down the fittest of physiques (Braaksma, para. 8). In support of key point three, the author humbly acknowledged how life in the factory all those summers had made a huge impact on his life as evidence of his maturity and growth. In a modest, yet mature tone, he said, “the things that factory work has taught me–how lucky I am to get an education, how to work hard, how easy it is to lose that work once you have it” (Braaksma, para. 9). Maturing means accepting things for what they are and coming to grips with the realizations of life. There are lessons in every aspect of life and no one is exempt from receiving them. The most important thing is learning how and when to apply them to real life experiences (Braaksma, para. 9).
An effective revision strategy to inform me of changes needing to be made to the content in my work would definitely be a markup review by another person. This would allow insight into the error in my writing style from the reader’s perspective. The visible markings provide a direct area of concentration needing my attention. I stand to gain clarity in my writer’s voice by ingesting critique and applying it to my revisions. Though this is my preferred method of being informed, I am open to all types of feedback.
To improve my writing skills, I welcome feedback and actually seek it out after I’ve proofread. Constructive criticism forces me to address issues that I may otherwise miss on my own review. Writing is an art that I would love to master someday, so having my work reviewed will only get me one step closer to that goal. As I write, I find it therapeutic to analyze my subject out loud to a listener to determine if my thoughts match the tone I’m going for. Feedback also helps in moments when I tend to be overly wordy because that second set of eyes will capture the overuse.