Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hah. Justified.

After someone griped at me and took me to task for "hazing" the students and making them cry with my Evil Red Pen of Doom, a more seasoned member of the board stepped in and remarked, "if you put the shoe on the other foot, and had candidates for tenure asking to be let out of doing research, or teaching intro-level classes, on the grounds that it hurts their feelings, they'd be laughed out of the room."

He also spoke out against "enhancing speshul snowflakeness" by bowing to demands that we coddle student sensibilities by not marking in red pen, or by not making so many comments on the papers. (which he was asked to do on his campus. Srsly. Let's just let them persist in their mediocre little boxes, while thinking they're doing great work).

So I feel somewhat justified. Not that I needed it; considering my experience is that the serious students read the red-ink comments and go, "OK. I see what I need to do to improve" and try harder the next time, and the speshul snowflakes persist in feeling bad and feeling like the professor dissed them.

I'm coming to believe that a big hallmark of maturity these days is knowing when something is YOUR fault and YOUR doing and being able to own up to it, rather than blaming everyone else. (That's something I learned at an early age, myself, but then I had uncommonly un-snowflakeish parents)


Mr. Bingley said...

Oh No! So there really IS a 'red menace' in Academe...


My Bride has had to deal with this crap; all the papers she grades look like a hallmark easter card, as they're covered in green and purple ink.

Ezra said...

People have trouble distinguishing between helpful and malicious criticism. I think there is a bias clouding perceived intent. People we like provide helpful criticism. People we dislike are malicious.

Self-esteem gets broken by much worse events than marks on a paper. A year from now, the student would have to be shown the paper to even accurately remember there were a large number of marks.