Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Random bullets of oh-please-don't-let-it-be-nearly-February

  • Historiann nails it, as usual, by calling out the gendered mommy politics of "Hillary, can you excite us?".  I am sick to death of this "yeah, but she's not exciting" argument. "Not exciting," even if it's true (it's not), is a refreshing change from the Trump wackaloonery spectacle--or, as John Scalzi calls it, the "howling sampler box of Dunning-Kruger that is the current GOP field."  I'll be happy with any of the three Dems--there, I've said it--but would remind the "exciting" crowd that George McGovern was exciting and inspiring to hear, too, in 1972, and that got us the infamous "four more years" of Nixon.  Nader voters got to be all pure and pious in 2000, and I don't have to remind you how that one went.
  • I am so far behind with projects that I need a time machine (a Tardis?) to catch up. I got up at 5 to write but wanted to write this blog post instead. That will inspire me, won't it? 
  • I recently read the comments on my student evaluations, which were down slightly on the numbers in one class. The written comments were mostly really good, though, except for some that dinged me for telling them that they needed to write in complete sentences and use punctuation. Their other teachers think this is completely bananas and that only ideas should count, I was informed. So noted.
  • Time to get to work.

3 comments:

xykademiqz said...

The written comments were mostly really good, though, except for some that dinged me for telling them that they needed to write in complete sentences and use punctuation. Their other teachers think this is completely bananas and that only ideas should count, I was informed. So noted.

LOL! I guess this is the humanities counterpart of what I get on my evaluations (physical science field), where they complain that I make them use their algebra and precalculus knowledge (In college! Get the smelling salts!) and, you know, actually calculate things from beginning to end, as opposed to have them show me that they "understand the concepts." What I want to say is that you don't get to be a "concept thinker" until you show me you can calculate simple stuff at a basic proficiency level. I actually tell them a metaphor that what we are trying to do in these courses is the equivalent of writing a college essay. You can't write a college essay if you have to look up the spelling of every goddamn word (the equivalent of not knowing arithmetic) or are unsure of how to compose a sentence or punctuate (the equivalent of not knowing algebra). If you use all of your brain to wrestle with this very basic stuff that you should really be doing automatically, of course there is no energy or time left for higher-level thinking, for constructing coherent paragraphs that persuasively convey your idea in a logical manner (the equivalent of what I am trying to teach them, the actual subject of the course).

Maybe tell them that not writing complete sentences is like not being able to do fractions!

undine said...

xykademiqz--I know, right? The "big concepts" idea sounds good in theory, but what I've seen of them in practice is a bunch of gassy, unsupported generalizations, and not especially original ones at that. Without information, you don't have anything to put together, and without the means to do it--writing sentences and revising them--you don't have a product.

I used to hear more questions like "But what about my ideas? What grade would it get if I didn't have all those errors in sentences/spelling/construction/argument/support?" If a reader can't see your ideas, or if you can't develop them sufficiently through multiple drafts, they don't exist. Everyone writes incoherently when beginning a piece, but you can't let it lie there and call it a good final draft.

Also, hearing from a couple students that "other professors" are telling them that my standards are wrong--if they're not making it up, then those "other professors," who haven't talked to me about their concerns, are unprofessional, full stop.

profacero said...

xykademiqz, I want a job with a PhD program so I do not have to teach lower division foreign languages. That is because in lower division foreign languages you cannot get a decent evaluation if you want them to actually speak or read or write in or understand the language aurally. They want to match vocabulary words and explain, in English, how verbs are conjugated in general (but not necessarily do any conjugations correctly, even).