Arrgh… thar’s the rub…

May 11th, 2005

I finished grading the first five of the twenty lab reports that I’ll receive this quarter today. Five papers on the autonomic control of the cardiovascular system. It took five days. That’s just one paper per day.

You wouldn’t think that five reports would take too much out of a person (especially one who has been grading the same papers for the last two years), but I feel compelled to belabour everything. I want to help them learn to write, to understand the science, to begin learning how to interpret something that is sitting right in front of them. Somehow in this, the last paper of their undergraduate careers, I’ve got to teach them everything that four years of college and high school never knocked into their heads. I want them to reach for something more than to just get by. I care so much that I end up hating all of it. So, the grading goes by… and by… and by. If I just didn’t care, it would be easy. Skim the paper, check for the major concepts, key points, assign a grade. Arrgh… I end up returning them a book of red ink. Probably a book that they will never look at again because they will be moving on to some other phase of life in about a month and a half.

That’s not to say that there aren’t a few gems. I do get the occassional paper that is well-written, organized, researched, and insightful. Those papers are like a breath of fresh air. I’m sure that I overlook mistakes in the good papers just because they are so well put together, and that the others I scrutinize all the more when I start to see an error or two.

I’m sure that it’s just as well. It all comes around in the end. The papers that I turn into my professor come back a jumble of comments. I almost don’t recognize my own ideas or words anymore for all of theirs. And, so, I learn. And pass it on.

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