Why on earth do students think that they will somehow win me over by writing their papers about the social impacts of climate change? Clarification: why do they think they will win be over by writing a poorly-written paper about the social impacts of climate change that they clearly spent about 45 minutes on and didn’t even bother to spell check let alone proofread? Yes it’s my field and yes I care about it but WTF guys, do you really think that writing about something that you know very little about, but I know a lot about because I study it as my job and have been doing so on and off for twelve years, is going to win you points with me? Hmmm? Hmmmmmmmm? Really? Did you think it through??!? No. you didn’t. You just wrote a crappy assignment and you got a C. The only reason it wasn’t a C- is that I can’t take points off for pandering.
I’ve had an unusually high number of students write me nice emails or send me little ecards and whatnot this semester. I wish there was some way to effectively communicate to people the importance of positive feedback. It seriously means so much to me. A nice email? I get weepy. An e-card saying I’m awesome? I make other people look at it. A “I think about things differently because I was in your class” and I actually cry a little and then I print it out and put it in my journal and write it out on a post-it and stick it above my desk. Because I love teaching and on a basic level, I care about my students more than anything (except for the ones who pander, I don’t like them very much). When I give out bad grades, it hurts because I blame myself (even when I know it’s not my fault). On the other hand, when my students write things that are beautiful and thoughtful and incisive, I glow inside because I know I get to hang out with these awesome smart people. So when these awesome smart people tell me that they think I am interesting and smart and they enjoyed hanging out with me too? Better than going swimming in a mountain lake on a hot day. Better than eating gelato in Paris in that little park under the Pont Neuf. Better than knitting a sweater by a roaring fire when it snows outside.
A friend has lent me his copy of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, which I am reading for the first time. In it, Gibran writes:
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things that you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you watching.
I may hate grading, but I sure do love my work.