The first six-week summer session started last Monday. It feels like we’ve just begun, but because everything is condensed, we’re already 21% of the way through the semester. You’ll get no complaints from me. I eagerly look forward to the latter part of summer, during which I’ll be engrossed in my own program of study. That will be nice enough in and of itself, but it will also be nice to go a couple of months without grading undergrad papers. I know I keep going back to this, but it is absolutely disheartening—soul-crushing, even—to read through a stack of borderline incoherent papers. If I’m feeling charitable, I chalk it up to the fact that the public school system has failed, that these students have never been required to write an intelligible sentence in their lives and so cannot be held fully responsible. But sometimes you can’t help feeling like they just don’t really give a crap or want to exert much effort. (Case in point: you can explicitly require in the essay instructions that the papers must be stapled together, which should go without saying, and still you’ll get 10-20% unstapled essays—I’m not kidding.) It’s probably a mixture of the two, but for crying out loud, I feel like it’s the teachers (and TA’s) who suffer for it!
Yes, as you may be able to tell, I’ve been grading again. Today marked the due date for the first essay of the semester. Fortunately, the essays in this class are only about two pages long. And, I’ve probably got less than half the number of essays to grade this semester that I did last semester. That thought keeps me sane. They’ll go quickly and easily compared to the last couple of semesters. That doesn’t make each individual page any more enjoyable to read, but still. The end is near. The end is near….