December 3, 2022

Light-KateDeVantierFor four years, Witt has been home to Kate DeVantier, a senior English major. Talking with her was an exploration in blurred lines, moral complexities and educational empowerment. Ultimately, it was a show of how perspectives change. Below are snippets from the conversation.
CJ: Could you say your name, your year, and your major?
KATE: I am Kate DeVantier. I’m a senior English major.
CJ: And, could you define yourself in a sentence?
KATE: Indecisive (laughs). Define myself in a sentence? How about “still searching.”
CJ: Okay, what makes you most happy?
KATE: Probably…the little things. One of my favorite things is just to sit around and have the leisure time to either read a book or hang with friends and play cards, or having no other agenda for the day except to do whatever we want when we want and have no obligations.
CJ: What’s your favorite book? Do you have one?
KATE: That’s tough. That changes as frequently as Ohio’s weather. I’m currently writing my senior honors thesis on the “Lord of the Rings.” So for many years I would have told you “Harry Potter” but I think I’m reaching a different stage in my life where other things are starting to resonate with me… I’m slowly moving toward a different perspective.
CJ: That’s interesting; can you talk about that perspective at all?
KATE: Well, it’s something that I’m still trying to work out, too. My thesis on the “Lord of the Rings” is kind of about the morality in it.  I started off wanting to talk about this easily identifiable dichotomy in the “Lord of the Rings” between good and evil and how it’s so easy to see who’s good and see who’s evil, but the more research I do and the more I read it, I’m discovering that’s not the case. You can’t always put a label on something like that …. You have to take into account motivations and actions and past experiences and why people do the things that they do. So, those deeper questions that are really hard to answer are, of course, what I’m awkwardly trying to answer in the course of my thesis.
CJ:  You’re a senior, so you’ve been here and you’ve been challenged to engage the complexities of life. What do you think the world needs?
KATE: That’s an interesting question. I’ll take a step back. One of the things I’m wondering if I were to teach at the collegiate level … whether I want to get a doctorate in literature or composition and writing … a lot of logistical things go into that … I think if you had asked me four years ago my answer would have been … literature, 100 percent. I want to definitely teach how to read and look into the text and I think it’s still important … but, especially working in the Writing Center … I think so much good can come from just having a voice … I think that having that kind of confidence and the ability to translate whatever is on your mind or in your heart onto a page that reaches multiple people is so important … but there might be a few certain individuals who are missing that and who for them to be able to … put themselves out there would be a transformative experience.
CJ: What’s one step you think that we, as a community, could take to accomplish that?
KATE: I think this goes more pedagogically. We’re teaching to the test a lot of days in English. I asked myself, when was the last time I was asked, for school, to write creatively? And it had been a really long time, several years.  I think that the power of writing creatively and allowing yourself to not just write a research paper is something significant and so what step do we need to take? I think just giving kids the chance to write about what they believe in and write about things that are important to them will give them a deeper purpose that maybe fosters that confidence and fosters that determination to do well. But I think we’re becoming a cut and dry, black and white, teach to the test culture, and I think it is to the detriment of our students. I think we need to look deeper and figure out what works for us, but giving the kids a voice, we can’t instill our own values in them we need to give them a chance to create their own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *