May 28, 2013

Teacher Rant: Uncanny Moment Grading Papers (Or, Why it is Unsettling Reading Final Exam Essays)

It's slightly unsettling to grade students' final exams and to read their answers to the essay questions. Some of the students have their own voice and I can tell they understand the question through their own mastery of the concepts. Stellar work, I say, and then there are the students who just don't get the question correct; but, what gets me every time is reading a student's answer that has an uncanny resemblance to my lecture vocabulary and style. It's creepy. I can tell they understand the concepts but they're using my style of delivering the answer. It's not exactly copying. Nor is it their own words  well, sorta  it's their own rehashing of what they remember I said in class. Rather impressive. I am sure I wrote like that when I was an undergraduate. We really hung onto what are profs said. I really don't remember anything my teachers said about philosophy. I remember the slips of the tongue and non-sequiturs. "Nouns and verbs and shit," said one prof answering a kid's query about what the paper should contain. A sensible answer, I thought. Or one teacher in college told us we could choose any color we wanted to write on the board as long as we used its name as if it were a liquor. Green chalk was Chartreuse. That's all I remember. I drink the stuff with relish (and when I have the dough). It's divine.

image credit: johnkutensky