Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One more blessing

As I'm wading my way through grading for the week, trying to get ahead at work so I can take a long camping weekend without feeling that stress, I realize that one of the reasons I love teaching online (versus face-to-face in a classroom setting) is that I can't see my students.

It's not just being able to make faces at terrible papers and then modify my comments; it's not just that I can grade while wrapped in a fleece blanket and fuzzy slippers. Or in sweaty running clothes.

It's that by not being able to see my students' corporeal selves, I only see their writing. Realizing that their looks, their clothes, their accents, their ages might influence how I read their papers on Oedipus Rex or More's Utopia is quite unflattering to my view of myself as a human being.

I fear, however, that it's true. Or at least true enough that I give thanks for its absence.

Now, online, I can't keep them straight -- one benefit of having about 60 assignments to grade every week, plus 60 participation grades, umpteen "help!" emails, etc. -- so I really do just grade what's in front of me. Can you write in complete sentences? Have you struggled with the literature? Have you (oh, please please) avoided the temptation to cite Wikipedia as a source? If so, great! I love trying to help improve students' work when the students themselves are so clearly working hard.

And it's easy to be positive and supportive when I don't have to think, "Ack! another pair of striped leggings today!" Shallow, shallow, shallow me.

Not having to drive or bike to get to my office is just icing on the cake.

Now, back to finishing that grading rather than patting myself on the back for doing it!


Robert van de Walle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Robert van de Walle said...

I just got back from reading your too-funny Christmas Vomit post from way back.

Seems to me that choosing to not see your students' affectations so you can grade their papers on merit would come naturally to such a great mom.

allisonmariecat said...

I started to laugh at Wikipedia being cited as a source, but then it made me kind of depressed that you weren't kidding about that.

It's only natural to be influenced by other factors, but great that you don't have to be. And also that you can grade papers in your sweat pants :)

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm totally missing everything, but *why* shouldn't Wikipedia be cited as a source? I use it all the time when I'm trying to learn about something new, or remind myself about the details of some issue. It's generally accurate and gives a good overview.

When my son writes history papers for his community college classes, he starts with Wikipedia. Why is this bad? If I were writing history papers, I'd do the same thing. I find it the best way to get up to speed.

-- Cardinal Fang

Cardinal Fang said...

I agree that Wikipedia is general, rather than scholarly, knowledge-- but you can't get to the point of understanding scholarly knowledge in history before you learn the generally accepted facts about the era you're studying, and Wikipedia is great for that. Maybe studying literature is different.