Monday, April 15, 2013

I'm Only a Little Miserable

The end of the semester is approaching at my SLAC, and so I have The Stack.  I'm halfway through the freshman portion of The Stack, and I've noticed something odd.  Aside from the usual inability to follow directions, follow a format, or follow the conventions of citation, I'm seeing an alarming trend.

Out of the thirty papers that I've read in the last three days, there were three that --

I actually --

kind of --

enjoyed reading.

Not just, "Okay, that was a good paper," but "Huh, that was insightful and interesting.  I'm glad I read it."

I'm concerned.

Am I growing soft, I wonder?  Or are there just a few good students (dare I hope for 10%?) that actually have intriguing ideas and the ability to express them?

I'm pretty sure it's me.


  1. All the good ideas have already been taken. They are plagiarizing.

  2. This could be a trend.

    The other day a student made an appointment to see me, showed up on time, understood what I explained to her, and thanked me for my time.

    Only happens one every two years or so, but is still disturbing.

    1. I think we have entered the Twilight Zone. The same thing happened to me yesterday. A student term paper consultation: working from the primary literature; good, cogent questions out of my specialty that I had to get a colleague to help with because they were deep enough that I couldn't answer them from my general knowledge of the field; and a thorough understanding of what was required and what help she needed.


  3. It is disorienting, isn't it?

    I recently had a student complain that he got feedback that he was using an outdated document that, unfortunately, the centrally authored syllabus still lists as required reading. As I was once again doing the minefield dance of crafting a non-offensive reply that nevertheless pointed out that several announcements/messages/previous feedback had been provided to alert students to the updated document, a follow up message came from the student.

    "Sorry, Dr. A & S, I just found your announcement about the updated document. I'll be sure to use it in the future."

    It is an unfamiliar feeling a sense of fatigued relief that follows an academic "fight or flight" which was not required.

  4. It's always disorienting when someone does well, right? How sad is it that our norm is to expect that they suck?

    What always throws me for a loop now is when a student does the simple act of THANKING me. I find myself getting all emotional and warm when they say "thank you." Then I remind myself that they're SUPPOSED to say thank you and I'm back to my miserable old self in no time.

  5. I found myself thanking a student last week for not only studying everything on the test, but writing his answers in clear, well-formed sentences. I hesitated before writing, and asked a colleague whether that would be over the top, since the Little Dears are supposed to be doing all that anyway. Wise Colleague said, "What's wrong with thanking someone for making your job easier?" So I did.