It never ceases to amaze me how many students outright ignore the comments I make on their essays, and fail to ask me about the comments during one-on-one meetings with me, or even just after class, even though I tell them they should do this.
Anyway, I marked seven essays this evening, several of which were absolutely oustanding–including a highly impassioned plea for social justice and legal reform in the handling of trasngendered people in Korea (which got an A++ because, really, it’s almost pro-magazine quality in my opinion)–but the last few, they were almost demoralizing. I mean, no, not really, but they did get me angry. I decided to stop marking for the day when I noticed I was close to scratching holes into the paper with my pen, circling things as sloppily as I could, and caught myself writing, at the bottom of the page, “You ignored all my comments on the first draft, and didn’t expand this. WASTE OF TIME.” Not that this student will ever see this essay — it’s her final exam, so I have to keep it. But I realized I was ouright angry at her for wasting a half out of my life earlier this semester.
I’ve got to figure out a system where people can specify whether they want comments or not. Maybe requiring SASEs for all essays is the best way? If you want comments, bring an SASE with your essay. No SASE, no comments? I think one of my profs used to do that. Or else, I should start doing what everyone else does, and just circle the most important stuff that needs fixing, and let them come to me if they can’t figure out why.
That said: if we spend two weeks each during two semesters in a row on something, I expect people to at least check that thing over when they proofread their essays. For example, we talked a LOT about how to use conjunctions properly and how not to use them. Yet I am continually circling conjunctions in half these essays.
Happily, nobody will see these, an even more happily, I have almost ten days before my grades need to be in. It’s all cool.
One more thing: the perfect music for marking the less-carefully revised essays by the comment-ignorers is The Smiths. When you’re full of snippy black happiness, it’s hard to care whether people you know, people who are basically nice, bothered to learn anything in your class.