Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Groundhog's Day of Papers

Because I am both an idiot and a glutton for punishment, I let my students rewrite and resubmit (within 1 week) their papers if they earn a C- or below. I am seriously rethinking this policy for next semester.

Thursday, the writer of the two worst sentences ever written said to me after class, "You said in my paper, I had a lot of run-on sentences." I replied, "Yes, that's true. You did." Her reply: "So, what do you want me to do, like, fix 'em or something?" No, just retype it and give me the exact same piece of crap you gave me last time. Instead, ever the professional, I said, "That's really up to you. If you want to rewrite and resubmit your paper for a better grade, then yes, you should probably rewrite those run-on sentences."

Now this policy has really come back to bite me in the ass. A student rewrote her paper and turned it in to me with "changes." Except, I don't ask the students to staple the new paper to the original, so I have no idea exactly how bad the original was. In this particular case, I honestly don't think she made a single change, because some sentences are so bad, they just stick with you like a bad scene from any movie with Jeanne Tripplehorn.

Check these babies out:
  • "She knew something was wrong so she called for help, and at the end of this section of the film, it just showed her knelling in a huge pile of blood."
Okay, last time I checked? Blood does not "pile" up. Then again, I don't work in an ER, so what the hell do I know. I do know that I distinctly remember crossing off "pile" and writing "pool" the first time I read this miserable excuse for a paper. "Knelling" also seems eerily familiar.
  • Coming in second place for "eerily familiar" we have: "He came and requested to receive his money before the abortion was done, and she wearingly agreed."

Because these nitwits are seriously affecting the quality of my own writing, spelling and grammar, I actually looked up "wearingly" because I thought perhaps this was a word with which I was not familiar. And you know what? Our friends over at Dictionary.com ask oh-so-politely, "Did you mean veeringly?" and I thought, hell, yeah, I meant veeringly! I'm going to drive veeringly right off a bridge if I have to read another one of these damn papers!

And, in a category that may be called misplaced modifiers (again - I don't know these things anymore; my IQ plummets precipitously with each paper I grade), I give you: "One of the women Claire asked was an Avon Lady named Louise; she said that the only place she was familiar with women going to was a yellow house a few blocks away supposedly performed abortions." I couldn't help myself. I circled the last half of the sentence and wrote: "Houses cannot perform abortions." Now I don't even know if my comment was correct.

J. came downstairs minutes later to find me prone on the couch, staring at the TV (which happened to be off. For once.) "What's wrong?" he asked. "I just finished grading papers." "How many?" I sighed. "Four." He was no longer emanating empathy. "Just four?" I sighed again. "Believe me. I'm fucking exhausted."

11 Comments:

Blogger liberalbanana said...

Stupid Blogger seriously did just erase my comment. Grrrr...

To repeat what I've already typed once (how ironic, seeing how that's the point of this post): How are you going to deal with Idiot Girl's "new" paper?

By the way, a house probably could provide an abortion if you threw yourself down the stairs at just the right angle...(Oh, I'm so bad. Kids, don't try this at home!)

April 17, 2006 7:26 AM  
Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

think she meant "warily"? hmmm.

Though honestly, I can't talk. I never proofread my papers, and once, for a paper that I handed in to the head of our department, giant in her field, a sentence without a verb. Yes. Good times!

April 17, 2006 8:37 AM  
Blogger Schietto Sister said...

"He came and requested to receive his money..." As Lorelai Gilmore would say, "Diiirtyyy" I think you should give my son one of your assignments and compare it to your students. He is eight, but I think you would be impressed. How could it be worse? Give it a try. He even uses correct terms for anatomy!

April 17, 2006 11:45 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Hmmm... Maybe my comment got eaten by blogger, too? I'll try it again. And if it doesn't show up, I guess I'll just have to assume that you didn't approve it. *sigh*

The best comment I ever got on a college paper was:

"CUT OUT THIS TRITE CRAP!!!" In big red letters across my paper.

The offending word in my paper was "whopping" and was circled. As in, "The standard deviation for this data set was a whopping 20%."

I figure in a few more years, you'll be able to make searing comments like this without a second thought! :)

April 17, 2006 1:11 PM  
Blogger Antique Mommy said...

I'm sorry you have to suffer so for my amusement, but this stuff is hilarious. Scary to think these people are reproducing and will be running the country some day, but hilarious just the same.

April 17, 2006 1:45 PM  
Anonymous sweatpantsmom said...

These are too funny. How bout an entire post composed solely of bad sentences you've had to read?

Or, that may be too painful.

My sister teaches fourth grade, and one of the funniest things I've ever read was a card a student wrote to her:

Roses are red
Filets are blue
Sugar is sweat
And so are you.

April 17, 2006 7:15 PM  
Anonymous janet said...

I think your new rewrite policy should be that they have to correct every single mistake you painstakingly point out the first grade-thru, staple the new to the old, and if they don't follow directions, they automatically get a grade LOWER than the first grade. Whaddya think?

April 17, 2006 9:29 PM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

I. Love. This. Blog. You always make me laugh out loud.

Speaking of college students, on Wednesday I'm going to speak to two of my Dad's freshman lit classes. I'm pretty nervous because they'll probably be surly. Just like I used to be in class back in the day.

April 17, 2006 10:09 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

OOOH! Janet, you are on to something. As they said on shows I can no longer remember, "That's so crazy, it just might work!"

April 17, 2006 10:10 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

And right back at ya, Jess! I'm sure they'll LOVE you! How could they not?

April 18, 2006 8:05 AM  
Blogger Virenda said...

I can not comprehend how college students can write so poorly. What the hell is going on?

New to your blog but I'm loving it.

April 18, 2006 8:56 PM  

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