Monday, December 9, 2013
Essays: staying sane.
And I'm not so sure that I'm teaching them anything in the process--by the time they get to my class do they already know/ terminally not know and give a shit or not give a shit? I get this horrible feeling that some students are simply able to competently write (from baseline linguistic smarts and/or reading a lot and knowing what real writing should look like?) and some just can't (as they don't read so written English remains a foreign dialect? Or perhaps writing is a very particular sort of smarts that you either have or you don't? Which, if it's the case, makes me despair.).
Do ya'll Miserians know what I mean? Do some students just have it, as an innate skill (that can, however, be honed or neglected), but some don't and never will? You know those hardworking B+ students who bring in a draft and ask, "How can I make this an 'A' essay?" and you think, "I'm so very sorry, and my heart hurts for you, but I'm not sure if you can. . ."? And in terms of the very basics, if they don't arrive with it already, more or less, I don't have the time to teach them how to write a decent essay in decent English from the ground up AND my discipline. Idealistically I like the idea of multiple drafts, etc etc, but ain't nobody got time for that!
The ones who write crap because they can't be fucked to bother are one thing, so is this just a hoop to jump through for some but for some others it's just grim? Do you English comp people feel like your courses make a difference for some of them? Am I just noticing the unimprovable incorrigibles?
(Is it analogous to, say, myself and Calculus? Where I was 'good at maths' Until That, and then it seemed that no amount of hard work and time and extra explanation and tutoring was going to save me, because, at least at that moment, it appeared that my brain wasn't optimized for that skill? Why could I and my instructors accept that set of facts, but. . . maybe it is analogous. . . Should I just remember my mantra and stop worrying?)
Just venting. Back to The Stack. Or retreating to a box of wine for the evening. For the ones who try, I try to remain empathetic.