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Thursday, May 12, 2016

One down, mostly

I am almost completely finished with the grading--including crunching the numbers--for the Poetry class. I need to talk to two students, the two problem children: the one who is getting an incomplete and the one who has been asking for more time over and over. I started to read her final essay--and it's word salad. I truly, seriously do not think she deserves even a C in the class, if I'm honest--but certainly not more than that, if she can't write a sentence that makes sense. I offer her opening paragraph:

"Women hold a powerful strength that are taken upon them with many roles. A trace of a woman is magic that is unwritten. As it may be defined to all woman who try. Women have a powerful rage that is used to show others what they can take. There should be a woman defined like a warrior as woman hold a special touch. They can succeed anything with the strength having."

As far as I know, English is this young woman's native language. Certainly, she speaks with no trace of an accent and in completely grammatically and syntactically correct sentences that actually mean something. Of the sentences I quoted above, one makes sense without the reader having to strain, fill in gaps, substitute correct word forms or add necessary verbiage. A few come close to making sense--but as this is an academic essay, not horseshoes or hand-grenades....

And those aren't even the most baffling sentences in her essay. It gets worse from there.

My plan is to meet with her on Monday and read the sentences aloud, then ask her what kind of grade she honestly think the essay deserves. We'll see how that goes.

In terms of how plans work out, I will say that I took pity on the two accidental plagiarists in today's 101. We were all having such a nice celebration, I couldn't bring myself to scare them, even for a minute. I pointed out the problem to them and warned them how easy it would be to be found guilty of plagiarism, what might happen in the future if they make a similar mistake ... and that was all.

The class was delightful, of course. I truly am very sad to say goodbye to them all. One favorite moment was during "ask the professor anything you want to know." One student asked me what the best thing was about my job and what the worst thing was. She said, "And don't say the students," to which I replied, "But it is the students. The students are both the best thing and the worst thing about my job." They laughed and I explained. Students who resist everything about education? Hate with a bloody fucking passion. Students like they are? Joy. Meeting my students one on one is usually the absolute best thing about what I do, whether we're working on their writing or talking about, well, anything else. Sometimes even the difficult discussions--like the ones I anticipate on Monday--are wonderful, because a genuine connection is made.

I also met with the Mystery Enthusiast today. He has one of the most hyperactive minds I've ever encountered (and I have a half-sister and two nephews with various forms of ADD). I said to him several times that the real challenge for him as a writer will be to actually finish any idea instead of spinning off more and more and more new ones. But he mentioned a "fantasy" idea he has (in addition to his interlocking mysteries, which are proliferating like tribbles)--and it's a kind of fantasy that irritates me, as it doesn't do what "high" fantasy does and doesn't have the fully formed construct of "real" fantasy. But since he brought it up, of course I had to suggest Le Guin (specifically A Wizard of Earthsea as a start)--and since he was trying to figure out the "rules" of fantasy, of course I thought of several of Le Guin's essays about it. He said he'd be interested, so I got his address, and I'll copy the essays and mail them to him. I'll be interested to hear what, if anything, he makes of them.

And it will be a delight for me to read them again, for the umpteenth time. Her work just never gets old; the brilliance is undimmable.

Now, however, it's tired and I'm late (or something like that). I need to pack up whatever I plan to take to Advisement on Monday, in the unlikely event that I actually have time to mark anything. (The place was pretty full today, and they sort of freaked out when I left--even though I'd gone 20 minutes over my allotted time.) I'll water the plants (which I need to start taking home next week), and then, my faithful readers, I'm outta here until next week.

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