Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Sound of my Soul Being Sucked Forth

It's past the midpoint of the semester, and yet I'm constantly writing on papers to remind students (even in my upper-level classes) to cite their sources.

And also, in academic papers using MLA style, you underline or italicize book, film, and magazine titles. Every time. Is it really that hard to remember?

And the formatting problem I mentioned on the first day of class, and have reminded some people about on ever effing piece of written work since, remains.

There simply isn't enough chocolate in the world for some days.

I have a meeting today for which the agenda says we're going to respond to the same piece of poor work we responded to a couple weeks ago. Then, we effing peer edited this piece of "work"; talk about a total waste of time (including the time of the assistant headmaster, a couple deanlings, and maybe five faculty members).


  1. Oh, I feel your pain. I'm grading annotated bibliographies for my first-year students right now, and they are by far the most atrocious pieces of work I've seen. Even with detailed instruction. Yes, the italicizing!!!!!!

    Hope you get some fine, fine chocolate. I'm enjoying dark with mint these days.

  2. It could be worse. One of my students in my writing class just plagiarized a whole paper -- copy and paste, how I hate thee. This was the last paper for a seven-week class, and as a result, he is not going to receive a passing grade for the class, which means he's failing out of the program. (This program requires that you pass the writing class with a C- or better in order to advance into the other classes.) He's an ESL student and claimed that he didn't know that this copying and pasting was wrong and that he had no idea of his consequences. Well, live and learn, dude. I feel bad that he's failing out of the program, but that's life. Why would any ESL student try to pass off a perfectly grammatical and very detailed essay on AIDS/HIV as their own work, when they've consistently been writing like a non-native speaker? Glad we use turnitin.com so I didn't have to waste a lot of time tracking down the source of the plagiarism.

  3. Anonymous4:05 PM

    I had to laugh when I saw this ... a cousin who teaches second grade in NYC told me that somewhere along the line, someone misread some research in educational psychology and decided it would be best for children if elementary school teachers don't correct mistakes in their students' essays. This, she claims, is why those of us who teach at the college level can't always get our students to understand that if we correct formatting problems, and point out these problems to them, they're supposed to take those corrections into consideration and not do the same thing next time. Ah, well.

  4. I feel you.

    I'd say more, but my soul is clinging so tenuously to my body right now that I'm afraid that verbalizing my frustrations any further would cause it to evaporate. AHHH. And yet, I'm the nicest goddamn person in the world when I correct this kind of enraging, enraging stupidity. That's got to cause damage somewhere down the line, doesn't it?

  5. I once had a grad student and when I sent back her drafts with comments, she returned them with her comments on my comments. I finally got her to realize that her response to my comments came in revising what she'd written.


  6. Anonymous9:55 AM

    I just heard a lecture about "Millennial" students yesterday, and I have very bad news for you all. You have to say this:

    "Oh wow, that is so great! This is a super paper for a first/second/tenth draft! Just look at the comments I made in my friendly green pen, take a few of my nifty suggestions, and you'll have an EVEN BETTER FANTASTIC PAPER when you turn in the final draft! You ROCK!"

    Apparently this works.

  7. Hilaire, Mine haven't started their annotated bibliographies yet. One more thing to dread!

    Fie, UGH. Plagiarism is the worst.

    PrimroseRoad, Hmmm, interesting. I have read research about what students don't take in when they look at responses to their writing. It's key, as I understand it, if you can get them to think developmentally about the piece, rather than feeling like it's done and they don't care any more. If they connect it to revision or futher writing, there's a chance.

    Heu mihi, Probably. I'm guessing my blood pressure reaches epic numbers when I grade some stuff.

    Susan, Wow, what an unexpected response. I'm trying to think where she would have learned that?

    Theodora, I'm not convinced that students today are much different than I was, and I know that I REALLY wanted to hear how great my work was, and not hear about changes I needed to make. Maybe I was just ahead of my time?

  8. Anonymous8:09 AM

    Actually, Bardiac, I'm with you on that.

    (I do think that kids-these-days are a bit more extreme in their need for validation. And, I'd just had a conversation with one in which I was told that, to succeed as her teacher, she wanted my respect automatically, but I had to earn hers, so you can see I was a little sour at the moment!)