Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Are Our Projects Graded, Yet?

So, the thing I most procrastinate about, the thing I hate doing the most, even more than dishes, is grading a certain project that inertia demands I keep assigning in one of my classes. There's only so much I can read about Halo or the history of Nintendo before I want to tear my hair out by the roots. There are only so many barely-reworded wikipedia plagiarizisms that I care to see before my eyes glaze over and I wonder what it was like back in the good ol' days when students used to steal words from actual well-written encyclopedias.

Here's a tip for my teenage readers: if you're fourteen, it's nearly impossible that you will naturally use constructions like "mark the turnaround of his career" or "not only, but rather". If you type such words into a paper, and your teacher hasn't been lulled into a moronic puddle of drool by the mind-numbingly dull words of your classmates, you will be caught. So stop copying. Besides, you may not believe this because you're fourteen, but you actually do have some unique things to say. I once had a kid describe how to balance on a unicycle. It wasn't Shakespeare (or even Wikipedia), but it was good, detailed writing and I'd never read anything like it before. Why can't you try that? Explain something you know. I'm not looking for Proust. It doesn't matter that you don't know who Proust is. I just want you to create something of your own, so when you look back at it years later, you see only your own work. OK?

Anyway, I have nine left to grade. Nine out of thirty. Which reduces to three out of ten. Only 30% left to grade. I could have begun to grade one of them in the time it took me to calculate that percent, but I didn't. Nope.

The kids - who say the darndest things - said, "Why aren't they graded, yet? Did you have some personal turmoil in your life?" Yes. I confessed. I did. Turmoil they are too young to imagine.

"You procrastinated, didn't you?" they said. Yes. I confessed. I did.

"It's OK, we understand about procrastinating," they said, and I felt like the World's Worst Teacher for leading them by example towards an entire lifetime of wishing you had only done your work when you were supposed to, so you would never again have to look at a class full of innocent children and tell them that you still hadn't graded their endless stack of dull, plagiarized projects.

Nine more to go. Seventy percent complete. That's a C-. Isn't that good enough? Can I stop now?

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