June 21, 2008
Midterms roll in
Yes, I like making fun of student writing. It makes the job of grading it that much better. Before I start on my posts about midterm essays and final essays, I just want to be clear:
I rarely choose examples for THIS batch of midterms. I have been collecting quotes for years. This way, the writer and their writing are that much more separated and unidentifiable, and therefore FERPA folks can be happy. I won’t say “never”, because then you lose that little bit of questioning, and things are just that much more traceable.
I rarely poke fun at students who are known ESL. In fact, I prefer to poke fun at students who are known to NOT be ESL. So when you see this screwed up grammar and wild word choice, remember that the writer is a native English speaker. It makes it that much funnier.
I think pointing out bad writing is a great way to remind students, parents, and other teachers that students are coming to college writing like this, and that this is unacceptable. It is also a reminder that though I do not teach English classes, I am still teaching writing and research skills. It is my job to help these kids learn to write and analyze. This is the raw material I am sent. It is also a great reminder of why we need to be able to communicate and use language appropriately.
No, I do not think it is unethical to laugh at student writing. I am forever grateful for the professors who took the time to slap me upside the head as an undergrad and say “Do these words make sense to you?” Or as my son’s kindergarden teacher puts it, “Here’s what your words said… [my son’s mangled attempt at trying to spontaneously create a sentence from scratch instead of quoting/echoing someone else]… does that make sense to you?”
Midterms are rolling in. Stay tuned!