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Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Learning from my students
Whenever I read student papers I learn new things about some very familiar texts; that's a given. However, what I learn is usually something small: the significance of a single image here or of a particular word choice there--and these insights can be buried in the midst of papers that are otherwise entirely uninspired. When I'm having a particularly bad run of papers, I may encounter a new idea only once every ten papers. I'm not criticizing my students for this, necessarily--part of writing a paper is learning how to write a paper, and even summarizing and paraphrasing can be a step toward that--but grading a lot of bad papers in a row sometimes makes me feel that I'm losing brain cells along the way.
But just now? I read a student essay that made me SMARTER. It was the fourth close-reading I'd read in a row, all on the same Shakespearean sonnet, and it was amazing; it's the best paper I've read all year (the student in question is very sharp, but her elegant first essay was pretty empty at its core); indeed, it's among the best I've read ever.
Thank God for papers like this. Even if they only come once a year, they're worth it.
link | posted by La Lecturess at 6:44 PM |
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