Saturday, May 21, 2005


I'm not even half way done with the grading and I've got to call it a night. This stuff drains your soul. I can't even think about trying to write my own stuff now.

I did read one paper that almost renewed my faith. It was actually very thoughtful, if not terribly well-written. If the student had simply put an hour into an edit it would have been just great. I guess I should be happy that I got that much.

Honestly, it's not so much that the other papers are so horrible, it's just that they're so uninspired. Most of the students just parrot what the prof said in lecture. Another clump simply briefly glosses over the same (study group?) pretty obvious conclusions. A couple will turn in a paper that's 90% quotations and a bibliography that's longer than the paper. And of course, as I mentioned earlier, the simple grammar issues are just awful. I came very close to setting up a comma clinic. Where's Schoolhouse Rock when you need it? Actually, they didn't do anything on comma usage, did they? Well, poop.

Now I've got a nice 15 minute bike ride home in the dark. All the little drunklings will be well into their parties and not yet out on the roads swerving into my bike lanes, so it will be nice and refreshing.

I did see some drunklings on the way home - two guys wrestling in the grass near one of the dorms. One was saying, "no striking! no striking!" Ah, the undergraduate life...

Get out of my lane

I'm a very calm and mild-mannered guy (without all the stress of a crime-fighting alter ego). When I drive, I'm usually doing around the speed limit, or the flow of traffic. I don't cut people off. I wave to people who let me change lanes, and I even believe that people have a right to merge in front of me.

That all changes when I'm on a bicycle. I don't know how or why it happens, but I become a terror. I've been riding bicycles since pre-memory. I even did one of those MS-150 bike tours once. Where I live now, I bike almost every day, about six or seven miles round trip, and I'm becoming very un-me.

I'm aggressive. I pass other bicyclists closely when I think they are drifting too close to the centerline. If two oblividiots are biking next to each other blocking the entire path, I speed up. Maybe I'll cut in between them. Maybe I'll swerve around them with a curt, 'On your left!'

I'm competitive. There are a lot of pro, or at least pro looking, cyclists around here. I leave them alone, but if there is a road bike on the path, it becomes a race. It's a challenge to my manhood if I can't pass it or keep it behind me.

I even took special glee when I passed two middle-aged folk out for a ride. They were hogging the entire path, so I called out and passed them. The woman nearly shrieked, 'Oh my god!' and the man made a kind of gruff noise.

The whole point of this is that I'm not like that at all. I'm kind to squirrels and feel guilty when I don't hold the door for that last person, even when they are far away. Not that those two things are related...


Oh for crying out loud.

We caught several plagiarists on the first paper in this class. It’s pretty standard to catch about 4-6 for every hundred students or so. The prof made a big stink in class. Usually that's all it takes to dissuade the other folks. Once you see a couple of folks fail out of class, they tend to either do your own work or at least become a little more creative in your copying.

So... I found another one in the batch of second papers. And it wasn't just a little fudging on the citations either. It was flat out word-for-word off an internet site. Jeeze. Have some pride folks! If you're going to risk scholastic life and limb, at least put some effort into your fraud! Cut 'n pasting and entire paragraph ain't cool.

Ah, off to job number two. Or three… I lose track…

Friday, May 20, 2005

Grading Again

So I'm grading papers again.

It really amazes me that so many people can get into university without being able to put a coherent sentence together. Honestly, I thought that was one of the requirements. Don’t you have to write an entrance essay or something? Does anyone read them?

One of my friends asked if it was only the foreign students who couldn’t write well. I only wish it were that easy! Usually, I find that the foreign students, and even the recently immigrated, do much better on the technical aspects of papers. I assume it is because they know where their weaknesses are, and they work to correct them. That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions, of course.

The truly sad cases are the English-as-a-native-language-but-you-could’ve-fooled-me-crowd. Grammar apparently isn’t being taught anymore. In any case, it’s not being learned much anymore. And you’d think that if the students write their papers on their nice computers that a read wavy line under their words would interest them. It’s a spelling error! At least look at it! For god’s sake don’t just turn it in!