Wednesday, December 12, 2012


There is something to be said for it. Concluding lines to a female student’s in-class writing in preparation for the final exam (also an essay):

"This essay is terrible. I’m sorry."


Beth Impson said...

How refreshing that is to see.

Unlike the student who failed her senior thesis and came in to see me today to inform me that the reason was my failure to give her enough specific direction on what was wrong with it.

(Never mind that the time I give specific help is when they submit the first draft at mid-term and she had then just a few pages of notes . . . and after the break I had research drafts coming in for all the other classes filled with non-English majors who actually can be expected to need help, and conferences with all those students, and my brother died and I had to be out of town for a week . . . but I AM A HORRIBLE TEACHER and CAUSED HER TO FAIL because I didn't give a SENIOR ENGLISH MAJOR enough SPECIFIC DIRECTION on how to make her essay readable . . . No, I'm not bitter, not one iota.)

It was a nice thing I got some affirmation from another person in that class today -- one whom I told after reading the draft: "There's something terribly wrong with the structure of your essay. I have no idea what it is, but I'm sure you'll figure it out." And she did, and submitted a good solid final draft and then left me a note thanking me for helping her so much!

You just never know . . .

I could be a very good teacher or a very horrible teacher, but probably I'm just somewhere in between muddling along like everyone else. Your student is way ahead of most by her mere willingness to recognize that she sometimes blows it!

William Luse said...

Yes, it's always the teacher's fault when the student doesn't get her stuff done. I had one tell me once that, because I had taught something when she was absent, I hadn't actually taught it.

Beth Impson said...

I shouldn't be surprised at anything anymore, I suppose, but I still find myself dismayed by such accusations. This year, our department is responsible for a young man's not walking in the Dec. grad program b/c we didn't pass his Intro to Lit CLEP essay (which is the worst I've ever read) -- which he wrote one week before finals -- instead of taking the class three years ago when it was in his program to take. Whatever!