Saturday, November 26, 2005

Bursting with Love - or Maybe Turkey - Someone from Minnesota Finishes a Set of Essays.

A tenure-track asst. prof of English in Minnesota sends this along:

Dear Students,

I've just spent half of yesterday and all of this morning going through your latest essays. They're horrid. Each one of you has disappointed me in some essential way. I hold each early draft and finished draft next to each other, remember the conversations we had about working on the paper, developing it, and then I read the final draft and see NONE of those changes, none of those revisions. It's as if I gave 2 conference days to you for no reason other than to give myself a chance to make my cold worse. Why do you think I offer suggestions? Why do I ask questions about your work? Why do I care more for your essays than you do?

I'm through with that. From now on, starting with this set - where the grades are nearly all failing - I'm going to grade you on your performance. I have been lax with all of you. I grade based on the fuzzy potential you bring to the class. I grade based on the feel-good messages I get from our admissions committee about what great kids we have. But that's all been a lie.

As a group, you're lazy, unmotivated, and you are eager to lie to my face about the most minor of matters. You treat me with such casual disrespect - tardiness, phony stories about missing class, casual plagiarism - and yet you - and your parents - expect me to treat you like rare geniuses in my care.

Fuck that. You work hard or you suffer the consequences. I've been a fool for letting it go on this long, playing the game, acting like my colleagues who think passing everyone means they've chosen the right profession. But I'm through. Work hard or suffer. And it starts today. I'll give these papers back Monday and you'll have a chance to fix them, to spend some actual time on them. I'll want real revisions, not a handful of corrections.

This is not a warning. This is the start of something real.