Friday, July 16, 2010

I Got Furious - Fast!

This made me soooo mad. Mad enough to snark, folks. I'm gonna cross-post my response behind the cut, because to be quite honest, I'm not entirely sure it's ever going to make it past the moderators of the original article!

Perhaps you need to make the time.

Seriously? Since when are teachers the ones who determine their work schedules?

Let’s be generous and say we take just FIFTEEN MINUTES to grade each ten-page paper. With a courseload of 175 students, which is quite reasonable, that’s 43 hours, 45 minutes of actual grading time.

Let’s say teachers get an hour every day for planning (most have less, but it makes the arithmetic easier). Now we don’t want to stop teaching just because we’ve got all these papers to grade, so let’s set aside half of it for continued planning and OTHER grading. That means that given the time teachers are allotted, it would take 98 days to finish grading that ONE assignment.

But wait! I hear you cry. Teachers aren’t supposed to have families, or doctor appointments, or friends, or religious services, or household chores. Teachers should dedicate their ENTIRE BEING to their work, because it’s not a career, it’s a calling!

Ugh. What utter claptrap.

The time that we spend grading research papers is time that can NOT be used to create new resources or lessons for our students, time that can NOT be used to respond in greater detail to shorter assignments, time that can NOT be used to learn about new instructional or management techniques, or about new technologies and how to incorporate them to improve student achievement.

Then again, it’s also time in which we’re not subjected to nonsense from self-righteous idiots. Definitely a plus.

I actually held back a good bit, because (a) responding to idiocy with idiocy just increases the amount of idiocy out there, and I don't want that, and (b) because I think I actually have a point, and I want others to hear it, and having the comment not get posted because it was too snarky limits its audience.

But I'm just not sure. I kind of feel like Clay the Clueless deserved a good bit more than what I gave him. Maybe I was a little bit too gentle...

What do you think?

Image thanks to


Rho said...

I had the same gut reaction to that post; wan ted to reach through the internet and smack him.
When and why did it become the English department's sole responsibility to "teach" the research paper? Too many in other subjects who don't want to be bothered? Aren't good enough writers to be able to actually handle all of the work that goes into it?
My honors sophs are required to write a 5-10 page research paper on a topic of their choice after reading Frankenstein. They pick a controversial topic related to current science such as stem cells, cloning, all kinds of things. I make them show me notes, works cited, outlines at required times throughout the process and do a lot of class and one-on-one coaching and helping through the whole process.
Teaching in text citation, paraphrasing, quoting, well, you know how much work that is.
I read all of their work the whole way through the process, even their first drafts. I allow and encourage them to rewrite many times as long as they are making substantial revisions. Some did 5 drafts, but they showed such growth as writers and thinkers that it was worth it.
We were tired from the work, but they thanked me for my efforts and told me that their older siblings had told them to really dig in and do the work as they would need the skills in college.
I had 20 in the class. Could I do this with all 100 of my ninth graders on top of my work with the sophs? Hell, no!
People like that Clay don't get the time it takes, and it's not like principals reduce English teachers' loads to 75 students per year. There are years I have had 150 kids.
150 X 10 minutes (for a short paper)=1500 minutes which is 25 hours. Ideally,my kids should be writing a short paper every two weeks. So I am supposed to give up every other weekend to do this? Other disciplines don't expect teachers to sacrifice their weekends and entire evenings.
I get so weary with posters like Clay. And here in Ohio, English teachers are responsible for two state tests: Reading and Writing.
If I didn't love my students and believe in the work I do, I couldn't give so much time to this job. I sure wish we got more appreciation for it, but I do't think the public gets it at all.

Clix said...

In my more hopeful moments, I like to think that the public gets it, mostly. I really really hope that most people understand, and we only hear so much nonsense because idiots tend to be louder about their idiocy than sensible folks are about their sense.

HappyChyck said...

I have always hated teaching research papers--from grades 8-12. There is something that just does not click with the students, and no matter what their previous research experiences were, they act like they've never done it before.

I try to teach the process of writing a research paper to my 8th graders. I assess them on the process, too. It takes for-freakin'-ever. When they turn in less than brilliant work, I am so irritated, and often I even wonder what the point is. It is THE MOST aggravating thing I (try) to teach. If there are high school teachers out there not going through this pain and suffering, I wish I were one of them.

Of course, my students are years away from college, but I think shorter research papers are probably a better fit. Of course, it still takes time to do the process for each one, but then they get to continue developing the skill. is more manageable for me to grade...and the students can practice writing MORE. When to transition to longer papers? I don't know.

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