Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Putting a Stop to the "Special Snowflake Essays."


Please stop giving students essay assignments that involve them talking about their super-special lives and all the interesting things that they've done, and how important and fascinating they are. Please. This generation has already been brought up to think that each and every one of them is the shiniest, special-est snowflake in the universe and that they deserve all of the attention, praise and As that we can hand out.

When you give these assignments, it encourages this attitude and makes them think that it's okay to write essays like this for EVERYTHING. Yeah, I know "Write about the most important day of your life" or whatever is a really easy assignment to give, but don't you find the pages and pages of winning touchdowns, prom princess moments and accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior just a little bit fucking tedious? Where's the critical thinking? What are you doing? The rest of us then get these obnoxious personal anecdotes for essays on everything from Jane Eyre to Kubrick films to Russian history...

Every time I read one of these treatises on how "my mom is the most heroic person I've ever met" or an account of "the day I rescued someone when I was a lifeguard" or, for the love of god, "that really scary time I thought I was pregnant" (not kidding - got one of those just last semester), it just reminds me that most folks between the ages of 18 and 22 simply don't have anything interesting to say, have zero life experience, and are as self-involved as such utterly boring human beings can possibly be. In short, it makes me dislike the little ones more than I should.

Look - just spend ten minutes coming up with an assignment - ANYTHING but this. I'm tired of whipping out my angry green pen and writing "your first public boner is not an appropriate topic for an essay on Flannery O'Connor" or the more concise, "relevance??!!!" all over these diary entries that somehow ended up in my grading pile.