Sunday, December 13, 2009

Steve McQueen, Research Papers and Ten Bucks





My mind has been turned to muck. This is the direct result of grading 100 four to six page research papers over the last ten days. I’m telling you I can’t take it any more. Come to think of it, I don’t have to take it any more – until next year.

Grading these papers has actually made me stupider. I know what you’re thinking; is stupider a word? Doesn’t the use of stupider, at the very least, reflect indicate bad grammar? Didn’t I just get done telling you that grading them research papers made me stupider than I was before?

Allow me to share a few examples of antiknowledge that lingers in the recesses of my brain as a result of reading these research papers:

The Woodstock Festival was held to protest the War of 1812.

The Vietnam War was fought between the United States and Korea.

Adolph Hitler and the Nazis were communists.

George Washington owned a Coca Cola bottling plant.

There were a few good papers but the truth is I put heckuva a lot more work into grading than my students put into writing the papers. The lack of effort was no surprise. This is the fourth year I’ve been assigning research papers to high school juniors. I used the word assigning because I sure as heck don’t appear to be teaching them anything.


A couple of years ago a student turned in a paper on thr influence of Elvis Presley on American culture. He wrote that Elvis was so angry over his daughter’s marriage to Michael Jackson that he refused to speak to her for two years. For the benefit of those who don’t follow American pop culture, the king of rock and roll died at least a decade before Lisa Marie’s marriage to Michael Jackson.

This year’s assignment called for the class to compare a post 1900 American movement to a pre 1900 American movement. Five students didn’t even respond to the prompt. Three students wrote papers advocating the legalization of marijuana, citing highly respected academic sources such as smokeit.com, hightimes.com, and 420.com.

I’ve got to ask, were the authors of the three smokeit.com papers high when I gave the assignment???

Did I mention that the papers were really bad? The average score is in the low 60s. Man, last night I had a dream about grading bad research papers.

I gave the unit by best shot. I’ll try some new approaches next year.

I'm guessing Steve McQueen never graded a research paper in his life. He was too busy driving fast cars, running around with hot chicks and beening the king of cool.

It's not like the only thing going on in my life has been bad research papers and antiknowledge. For example I found ten bucks in the street last week.




11 comments:

Paul Greci said...

Yeah, I think you're right about Steve, he probably didn't grade any papers. Glad your grading is over for a while. When I taught the school was small so I never had stacks that large. I hope you have a restful and fun semester break.

#167 Dad said...

Thanks Paul,
I'm looking to knock out another edit on the novel over the break.

italgalmm said...

Steve McQueen ... " King of Cool "

You know what they say...
Those that can't do.... Teach.

Just Kidding... : P


Glad you see you are back !!

#167 Dad said...

italgalmm,
oh, you're a riot...
the problem is i don't seem to be doing much teaching.

Rick Rivers said...

Memories... after 33 years of this stuff, I still maintain an uncertain edge of sanity. Hang in there, dude. I cannot even fathom the number of essays I must have read, evaluated and graded..... duh.

quillfeather said...

Elvis Presley, didn't talk to his daughter for two years after she married Micheal Jackson? Dear god! Now I know why the animal kingdom kill off their young....

PS. If I was you, I'd spend the ten bucks on a very stiff drink, slouch into a cosy chair and relax :)

Clif said...

What does Clif’s Arizona Photo Blog (www.fatesensation.com/photoblog) need to do to get in you new "Good Stuff" section?

Guely of Sweden said...

You know what they say...
Those that can't do.... Teach.

Yeah! It was Woody in Annie Hall:
"I remember the staff at our public school. You know, we had a saying, uh, that those who can't do teach, and those who can't teach, teach gym. And, uh, those who couldn't do anything, I think, were assigned to our school."
I see the half full glass: You have a lot teach, so you won't be out of work for a looong while(it seems) :)

Clif said...

You rock, #167 Dad!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Thank God for finding ten bucks in the street. I can understand you frustration with these papers. Read about 5000 of them last winter. Amazes me how the writing world has gone to hell. Perhaps with blogs, we can improve. Or, if facebook simply required complete sentences. Or, if people read books.

I feel your pain. But cheer up. Semester over - vacation! I already started in case you can't tell. No sub jobs the week during finals.

Bluesfrau said...

"He wrote that Elvis was so angry over his daughter’s marriage to Michael Jackson that he refused to speak to her for two years."

You should've asked him to do a channeling for you, as apparently he has been talking to a ghost.

When I lived in the USA, I was asked things like "are you happy to live in a civilised country now?", and "Do you have hot running water in Germany?", and "So how long is Hitler still gonna be in charge?", and "Is Germany part of Russia then?" -- people of all ages asked me really weird questions over there. It was clear that education regarding geography and history wasn't the priority for a lot of people...

Each country I've been to had their own individual flaws... Germany has a lack of humour, America a lack of global education, the French can't pronounce any other language worth anything *ch ch*, the Polish have a wicked sense of humour (which I love) - ...........