Sunday, September 09, 2007

Who Will and Who Won't

My students will get their first essay assignments tomorrow. I dread giving them the news as much as they dread getting the news.

It's not because I dislike grading essays, either, although I do.

It's because it will unleash a barrage of many variations of the following:

1. I don't know how to type!
2. I don't know how to use a computer!
3. What does "double-spaced" mean?
4. I bought some bright pink paper just for this!
5. I know the syllabus states that no late papers are accepted, but what if it's me?
6. My computer capitalizes the first word on every line. That's right, isn't it?
7. Does spelling count?
8. My grammars ain't all that good. Do you take off for that?
9. I'm going to Cancun that week. Can I turn my paper in when I get back? I'm kind of busy with packing and all.
10. What if I need more than a week?
11. Paragraphs are those things you skip a line between, right?
12. Can I just print mine on lined paper?
13. I didn't know we had to type stuff for this class.

. . . which will lead to variations of these:

1. I left my paper in my boyfriend's car. Can I turn it in later?
2. I left my paper on the kitchen table. Can I turn it in later?
3. Bill asked me to tell you he'll be a little late. He's down in the computer lab writing printing his paper.
4. We had a paper due today?
5. I need more time.
6. Mine wasn't very long so I pasted some cute pictures in it to lengthen it.
7. I went to King's Island with my friends; want to see the pics? Can I turn my paper in later?
8. My mom said she knew you wouldn't mind that I went with her to get a makeover instead of doing my paper. Mom said I could always turn it in later.
9. Dad says he's a taxpayer and pays your salary and if I need more time I should get it.
10. Time got away from me and I need more.
11. Four paragraphs in one week? I can't do that, it's too much!
12. Sorry I don't have my paper. I have a life, you know.
13. I waited till I was back on campus so I could use the lab to write mine. What was the topic again?

Not everybody, of course; most of my students are way too fine to pull this kind of nonsense. The reactions of the real students to the antics and excuses of the frivolous students are something I look forward to each semester, too.

The real students will sit there shaking their heads in disbelief as the frivolous students, one after another, tell me these things that I've heard so many times before from the batch of frivolous students before them. I'd like to say that there's nothing new under the sun, but that's not quite true. Every semester I hear something new, and I add it to the list because sure as that sun will rise the next morning, someone else will use it next time.

The majority of my students will turn in their essays on time, double-spaced, with a title page. There will be mistakes, sure; that's why they're in this class. I'll correct the mistakes and write little notes of encouragement and approval all over the paper, and return it. Those who wish to better their grade may re-write the paper and submit it again. Most do not partake of that option; I wish they would. Each paper will receive two grades: one for content, and one for mechanics. The content grade is usually high; everyone has a story to tell and many of my students are walking bestsellers. The mechanics grade is usually pretty low, but most students improve with each paper. The ones who actually write their papers, that is. Sigh.

The vast majority of my students are dedicated adults who mean business. They've been fired and treated like shit downsized from their factory jobs and they know they need these new skills if they're going to be considered for a job in this modern world of technology and instant communication. I marvel anew every day at their determination to learn these new things. Sure, they're reeling from shock at losing the job they'd had all their lives and finding themselves back in school, a place that connotes failure to many of them, but helping them associate school with success is part of my job.

I can't do it by myself; I need cooperation from them, but most of the time? I get that, and far, far more.

Yes, it's true that everything on both of those lists will be said this coming week, and the week after when things are due. But it is equally true that those who fulfill those prophecies are by far the minority; the majority will have it done and ready to turn in.

I can probably already tell who will and who won't. That's the saddest part.

And I've already got a student in the Bahamas.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 12:31 PM | |


I am Mamacita. Accept no substitutes! Hitting the fan like no one else can. . .
I'm Speaking at BlogHer 08 Archives Links

My Classical Blogroll

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from Mamacita3855. Make your own badge here.

Credits Powered by Blogger

Designed by Swank Web Style
< <


Honors Blogrolling.com Hot 500


Lijit Search/a> < BlogHer.org Logo


Listed Subscribe with Bloglines

View My Public Stats on MyBlogLog.com

Personal Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory

Listed on BlogShares


DIARIST.NET Registered!

Technorati Tags:

Technorati search

Free Hit Counter