You know how I kid around that I get paid not for the yakking in class but for grading students' papers and tests? That perhaps I should outsource the grading to people in Bangalore?
But then, those jokes are a facade--to hide the insanely serious professional that I am. Especially when it comes to grading, which is one heck of a professional responsibility. Thus, I end up reading everything that students write.
Over the years, I seem to have picked up some kind of a copywriter's curse--my eyes zoom in to the errors so easily. Errors in syntax. Errors in logic. As much as I zoom into them, I am experienced enough to know that there is more to grading than to merely point out the mistakes.
That approach is also how I escape the copywriter's curse, and how I encounter rewards that no copywriter ever does.
It is now towards the end of the term and students' papers are that much more interesting. With most of the papers, I feel like I want to to dance around shouting "by George, she's got it!" It is an awesome opportunity to be a catalyst in the metamorphosis. Young people begin to see the world differently, in ways that they might, would, not have otherwise. As one student recently put it, "I am so glad that I am reading about all these that I always knew I should learn about. The scary thing is that if it were left to me, I would have skipped them anyway."
Grading essays, as much as a chore that might be, are more than merely my meal ticket. Well, of course, that work is my meal ticket. But, there is more.
In one of those papers that I was grading a couple of days ago, I read a genuinely reflective piece as a preface to the assignment essay. I was so blown away that I requested the student to email me the paper. Of course, the good student emailed me. The following are from the student's essay (I have redacted information that could identify the course.)
I couldn't have asked for more, right? Especially when it is the thinking that I am so after in the liberal education that I cherish.
Mission accomplished this term, too.