Thursday, March 12, 2009

ABCs & 1-2-3's at the Circus.

My little minions have their papers due this week. Getting assignments back from them is always an interesting social study: a (terrifying) peek into the mind of college freshmen. Although there are always a few hilarious standouts ("The colons were in great unrest before the revolutionary war") they tend to be more or less variations on the same theme.

More notably, they all make the same mistakes. Last time around, it was lack of theses and writing on topic. The papers I got back were rambling discussions of why, sometimes, people don't vote. But sometimes they do. But a lot of times they don't. Barring that, it was a word association game.

Me, loosely paraphrased: [Important dude] proposes that federalism allows voters to hold their governments accountable. Based on your reading, evaluate this claim.
Front Row Fector: I have read The World is Flat. How many times can I plagiarize Thomas Friedman in 6 pages? Globalization, WHEEEEEE!
Me: D for effort. Thank you for giving the Red Pen of Justice a rousing workout.

It's cute, really, because they're all so naive and new at this "college" thing. Exhausting, yes, when you have to explain to a freshmen student why, no, that is not the right use of "mitigating," no matter what your Microsoft Word thesaurus says about it. Exasperating, often, when you have to explain that "totally bad" does not, in academic papers, mean "good" or "adept at his job." Virgin and Funny Mean Friend, veterans of this scene, have warned me that it is kill or be killed, because, cute though they may be, the little monsters will suck out your soul.

After the Festival of D's/Reality Check #1/The First Paper, a few students came in to ask questions:

How can I get a better grade? (Try not to suck as much. Then, do your reading. After, proofread. Lack of catsup stains might help your cause)
You mean, you won't change my grade? (Ha. No.)
What reading do I have to do, exactly? (The less you do, the more fun your paper will be to grade. But you'll owe me a new Red Pen of Justice).
Can you explain federalism to me? (Oh my.)
What is a thesis? (ACK. ACK ACK ACK.)

...But for the most part, they went off and did whatever it is that Freshman do during spring semester. Now that they've (hopefully) learned their lesson about theses and actually reading their prompt, they've come up with a whole new set of exciting problems. At some point, someone must have told them to "grab their readers' attention."

They've really taken the bull by the horns on this one. Currently, I'm reading "The Ideology Bunker of Doom." I have to admit, after "Liberals versus Conservatives: The Final Showdown," it's a bit of a yawn, but it has promise.

Bless their lil hearts: this week, we're learning about hyperbole.


In it to my eyeballs said...

Yeah, I just got my last stack of papers and I want to die a little, or, you know, a lot.

I'll let you know how "The Good, The Bad, and The Porn" is; I suspect it will be slightly more entertaining (and less plagiarized) than "Star Wars: A Modern Religious Myth," and less impassioned (though more articulate) than "Cannabis Kills."

You want to know what else kills (my soul)? Freshmen. And, I think that they do it on purpose.

Virgin In The Volcano said...

Too funny. Love the bit about the catsup stains. I guess that's how I'd give myself away as a native Californian--my students' papers always came in (or went out) with green avocado stains.

No634 said...

A college freshman did not ask you what a thesis was. That doesn't happen. Nonono.

ImNobody said...

Yes, he most certainly did. And then he asked how to tell if he had one.

I am seriously considering issuing a pamphlet: "You May Have a Thesis If..." "Signs and Symptoms of Theses"

I'd be like the community clinic for grammar.

All rights reserved to my snotty and generally self-deprecating writing. And if your comments bother me, I'll delete them. That's right, pumpkin.
...How dreary—to be—Somebody!
How public—like a Frog—
To tell one's name—the livelong June—
To an admiring Bog!
-- Emily Dickinson