The phone conversation was with a student with whom I had a discussion about her final essay. We get along well, and can be brutally honest with one another, and I made the point that, her incomplete and somewhat problematic argument aside, her approach to writing was, well… it could be improved. I don’t mean her grammar, I mean her sense of structure, of argumentation, of how to demonstrate a point and support it with evidence, and so on.
(And in turn, she gave a pretty accurate critique of the course she took with me this semester, including its warts and problems. The final verdict was that I was too nice to the class, for reasons that seemed apparent to all the students — I looked exhsuated all semester, she said — and that if I could have found the energy, I should have been more of a slave-driver.)
In the course of the conversation, a few interesting points emerged: Continue reading