Tuesday, March 01, 2005

it's just not practical

I think that in ten years, when I look back at The Great Grad School Adventure, particularly if it ends up being only my MA, there are two things that I will remember learning from the experience. I'll only talk about one now, and maybe make the idea into a different blog post someday when I'm not really having much to say.

So the first thing that I have learned this year is that marks are arbitrary. Completely and totally. Actually, they are neither completely nor totally arbitrary, but there is some elements of those. I say this having just marked five papers tonight for my TA class, my head still full of the difficult negotiation between excellence in ideas and clarity in writing, and how serious mispelling the main characters name throughout the entire paper really is, anyway.

I guess this is also borne out of my experience here. My marks have been good this year, but I find myself wondering if that is because they have to be. I wrote a response to the Radway piece that I talk about below (and I was am quite proud of it) about why the public is eager to have someone make their reading choices for them (and what it means that we are). My prof looked it over and assigned me a mark of B+ (78-79 for the numerically inclined). A B+ is not a bad grade, per se, but it isn't a good one--and I had been so happy with my response.

Then in class my prof mentioned that he had forgotten to tell us that he doesn't give As. ...Oh. He wants us to focus on improving our writing and stuff like that, which is great--god knows I need it. But if you don't give As, doesn't a B+ become, essentially, an A by default?

It made me feel better about the B+, anyway, and he gave me good feedback on my writing. Still lots to ponder, though. Critical pedagogy is so interesting to me.

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