Oh god, it’s grading time. My least favorite time of the year. I suspect that some people got into the education biz expressly in order to evaluate people and rank them by their abilities, but this has never been the payoff for me. It’s in grading year-end papers and exams that I am brought face-to-face with my shortcomings as a teacher — I encounter, in my students’ final work, the sloth and ignorance I failed to dispel. Although, it must also be said, there are also unexpected delights — the student who worked like a galley slave to come out on top after a trying semester, the student who discovered a new enthusiasm through your class, the student whose final paper is the crowning triumph of their brilliant academic performance. So it’s not all bad. Still, term-end projects more often than not have an air of desperation, or at least doggedness, that midterm projects do not. It’s just the way things are.
Terminal Degree has posted a few choice excerpts from a colleague’s end-of-term stack, which make me feel both better, insofar as I haven’t had to read anything so bad for a long time, and worse, insofar as these are college students, FFS, and are presumably typical of some portion of the American collegiate student body today. Most of the papers appear to deal with the topic of gay marriage, which is apparently not popular in the unnamed Southern college where Terminal works:
“Gay marriage was legalized in the State of San Francisco.”
“Traditional marriage is better…well hell yea it is more stable; how
messed up do you think a kid is going to be when they think that two
guys are really their birth parents. For instance how is a young boy
supposed to grow into a man; when both of his parents are men, and one
of them is a little bitch for the other one to pound on whenever he
gets the urge.”
“Fagots claim that it is not their fault they are queer, but every person has the knowledge of write vs. wrong.”
“The only thing that can save them from going to hell is to change their lifestyle, get saved by God, and confuse their sins.”
“No one should feel comfortable being interment with the same sex. A
child raised by same sex parents wont make since.” (“I think he meant
intimate,” adds Terminal.)
Jesus wept. And of course, while we’re busily evaluating our students, in the last weeks of class they return the favor. Ah yes, student evaluations. Are they a blessing or a curse? You can usually get a good argument going on this question. I suppose my feeling is that they’re only as good as the students filling them out, and the problem is that the university administrators who read them and judge your fitness as a teacher have no way of telling the difference. Course evals are anonymous, after all. I would dread to have those troglodytes I quoted sitting in judgment over me, but then again, course evals have dealt me some hard truths over the years.
One friend of mine at another institution once got the funniest comment I’ve ever seen. “I feel that Music History 101* should be able to change the way you view music
and western civilization and religion, and although that happened a
bit, I felt that it could happen much more.”
*Course title changed to protect the innocent.