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.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Procrastination: It's Not Just for Grad School Anymore

Although I may be in the running for best procrastinator of all time, I think more than a few of my undergraduate students may knock me out of first place. I mean - damn, can those kids put stuff off!

Hence, I have spent most of the weekend grading literally dozens of papers. My students (conceivably) could have turned in all 3 papers within the first 3 weeks of class. In fact, I encourage it. But (of course), things don't work that way. Last week, I was nearly suffocated by students turning in all 3 of their papers at once. And since I'm trying to be superstar instructor, I have attempted to turn their papers around within a week. That's a hell of a lot of grading.

And also? My writing is seriously suffering. Last night I read a sentence about Margaret Sanger's mother who bared 11 children. I knew that sure as hell wasn't right, but what should it have been? Bore? Borne? Beared? Someone should warn you: There's a direct correlation between one's knowledge of the English language, vocabulary and grammatical rules and the number of college student papers one grades. The more papers you grade, the more ignorant you become. Everything starts looking right. More or less. After all, when you read a paper about the "matting habits" of certain groups of peoples, after the fifteenth time "matting" starts to look about right. The indigenous peoples matted just about everything - postcards, sketches, even oil paintings! They were CA-RA-ZEE!

You know what else? This kid, who could not figure out how to find my classroom - or even e-mail to find out WHERE I might have moved the class - e-mailed me this morning to ask why only ONE of the two papers he turned in last week was graded. And if I could answer him as soon as possible, because he is worried. Dude, step the fuck off. 50 times 3 is 150 papers. You'll get nothing and like it as far as I'm concerned because if you knew how to use the e-mail at the beginning of the semester and didn't need Daddy to call my department chair, I think I might be a bit more understanding. But I haven't graded all of your papers in less than a week and NOW you're troubled? NOW you can figure out how e-mail works?! Oh, hell no.

And finally, please do not report me to the insensitivity police. After reading the above chap's first paper (in which he reversed "there" and "their" and used each one incorrectly every.single.time), I lost it. (Not that I had it to begin with.) I explained the difference between their and there and then I wrote, "Someone in the English department of your high school should be ashamed of him or herself." Please don't throw garbage at your screen. I know, this was NOT the paper on which I should have written something so unprofessional and rotten. My MOTHER is an English teacher so I wasn't taking a swipe at English teachers - more a passive-aggresive (I'm brave that way) swipe at him because I was so pissed at having to translate his paper into English and FINALLY, I'm sure his father will be on the phone with my department chair by tomorrow morning, I'll be forced to lick the young lad's boots and then I'll be given my marching orders and sent packing. See ya all in hell. It's been fun!

Soon-to-be-unemployed-Teacher Lady

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Blogger Alyndabear said...

Jesus. What a pain in the ASS. I hope he gets his knickers in a twist, daddy has no grounding against your marking anyway.

December 05, 2006 3:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love love your comments on his paper! i bet you won't get fired though. i mean a) you spoke the truth and b) i doubt he'll read it...

December 05, 2006 7:27 AM  
Blogger saintseester said...

I am relieved to know that these things don't just happen to me. I suppose we all collect "super" parent stories...

December 05, 2006 9:24 AM  
Blogger Theodora said...

Teacher Lady, why is your schedule set up so that students are allowed to put off their papers? Is this a departmental thing? I hope not, because if not then you can change it for next semester.

And I would like to choke your department chair myself. He sounds about as potent as a day-old wet noodle.

December 05, 2006 10:45 AM  
Blogger Kate C. said...

Why is the students who take the least responsibility for themselves that expect you to do the most for them? I had a student who skipped four classes (out of 14--the class met once a week)--she came to speak to me and told me it was because of her job. I was willing to work with her, as I know it is hard for returning students. Then I realized she had plagiarized a paper. She actually asked me for extra credit work while I was trying to explain she had flunked the course! Anyway, I hope you don't have any trouble from the father and your chair--that student really needs to learn a lesson.

December 05, 2006 11:14 AM  
Blogger The "Mind" said...

First of all, he so deserved that comment.

Now, I'd like to second the motion about you spreading out their paper due dates over the semester so you aren't slammed at the end when you are studying for your own classes.

December 05, 2006 1:52 PM  
Blogger Dr. Lisa said...

I, too, believe that reading endless volumes of undergraduate prose causes my own writing to suffer. To stop the effect, I read something good before I sit down to proofread my own stuff. Otherwise, there is no hope; I congratulate myself on basic subject/verb agreement if I don't have something normal and high quality to compare it to.

December 05, 2006 2:28 PM  
Blogger maikaojai said...

Breathe. Just breathe.

December 05, 2006 6:53 PM  
Blogger desiree said...

Did daddy ever come after you via department chair? You still seem to be employed so that is good, right?

December 06, 2006 1:35 PM  
Blogger Moobs said...

I used to resort to writing "ARRRGGGHH!" next to the wrost of the infelicities.

December 06, 2006 9:23 PM  
Blogger firstcitybook said...

As someone who has been grading college essays for twenty years, I tend not to comment on editing at first, unless the student has created something that doesn't read like English. I would think you would examine content before commenting on editing. How much of the grade does editing count toward? Do you provide a grading criteria with your essay assignments? For an essay worth 100 hundred points, I award 20 points each to focus, development, organization, style, and editing. I'm not trying to tell you what to do. It would be easier justifying your grades if you first read for content.

December 07, 2006 7:57 AM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Ah, yes. Grading for content first, editing later. Often my students' sentences are either incomplete or run-on and make no sense. Typically, it takes 2-3 readings of each paper to determine what IS the content - if there is any. Sometimes I go for editing because it's all I've got. And yes, after two and a half YEARS of grading college essays, you'd better bet your sweet pa-tootie that I have an extremely detailed rubric. On a paper worth 50 points, grammar, spelling, editing, etc., counts for 10 points. I think we have the same exact formula. You clearly have a better caliber of students at your university, or more patience, or both.

December 07, 2006 12:17 PM  
Blogger Fraulein N said...

"Matting habits." Jeez. I say you wait 'til the veeeeery end to give Daddy's Boy's his grade.

Oh, nice to see he finally learned how to use e-mail. Idiot.

December 07, 2006 3:50 PM  

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