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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Again, with the risk taking...

I've marked two of the papers for 102, ten more to go, and yet I'm calling it quits for tonight. I don't want to get to the stage in which the words all start to blur together and I confuse the students more than helping them because my comments don't connect with what the student has actually done.

Still, just working through the two I've done, I remain perpetually astonished and dismayed at how little students learn--or perhaps how quickly they revert to old patterns. Student one: every body paragraph begins with an unintroduced quotation (high school tactic number 3). Student two: starts the essay with huge generalizations (even though on the previous version I very clearly pointed out that I want the very first sentence to state the work of literature, the author, and the overall topic of the paper.) And that also contributes to my decision to quit now: I'm afraid if I try to push through a few more, I'll be so cranky that I'll start wanting to take it out on the students.

I was moderately fierce with a student in the short story class today: he's hands down the worst writer in the class, and he steadfastly refuses to actually do any revising. He drops one or two sentences, changes one or two, and the rest of the utter shit he's written remains completely unaltered. I told him that the changes were not sufficient to make a difference in his story, and that if he wants to actually improve, he'll have to do a lot more work. The Real Writer and Edison Adams also were very honest with him, even though they were masterful at keeping the critique friendly and helpful rather than saying flat out how unbelievably limburger-stinky the story is. I'm beyond annoyed with Mr. Stinky Cheese and I'll be grateful to see the back of him.

We did get to workshop all the stories, though: whipped through the comments, so everyone can take oral as well as written feedback home in order to do their final revisions. Once again, I felt that The Real Writer--and in some cases Edison Adams--were giving more helpful, thoughtful, intelligent feedback than I was, but as long as they don't feel ripped off by the experience, I'm delighted to learn from them, and as always, interested to see what others pick up on that I miss. When The Real Writer and I had our rambling conversation after class a week or two ago, one of the things he said was that even if the class is taught by someone who is incompetent, the workshop process still works and is useful. He then rushed to say, "Not that you're incompetent..." but my response when he'd said it was to laugh--I didn't feel he meant me, and even if he did, he's got a point. I did, however, argue back a bit to say that he was operating on the assumption that everyone in the workshop is tuned in to language, can read and understand the written word with sophistication along the lines of his own. I gestured around the room where the other students had just been sitting to make the point that this was clearly not true of all classes, and he had to allow as how I might just be right on that score.

There are a couple in that class I won't mind if I never see again. But there are a couple that I hope remain in touch: The Real Writer, my lovely Calyx, Edison Adams, even the Rap Artist. It's been a blast. I'd love to do it again.

Advisement was moderately busy: I did get a few minutes at the end to cross a little assessment task off the list (whew)--and I got a few students who were intelligent enough that I pushed Nature in Lit in their direction. Today, there are seven students registered. If none of them disappear (which does happen, for various reasons) and I get 8 more, it'll run. I finally made more fliers: tomorrow I'll put some up in a few locations I've not yet hit.

Seems like maybe there was something else, but damned if I can think what. My brains have experienced vapor lock. I'll get out of here while I still have sufficient mental acumen to drive.

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