Thursday, March 13, 2008

Whose grading's the hardest?

How to pick a fight in academia:

"In all of higher education, across the entire college campus, there is no more difficult teaching assignment than the freshman writing class. The instruction is labor-intensive like no other."

Oh yeah? I have a hunch that instructors of, oh, every single other class could make a case for their own teaching assignments to be the most challenging. I've learned that discussions of whether it's more difficult to grade French homeworks and essays (what I do) or lab reports (what my boyfriend does) go nowhere. Now it could be that Mark Bauerlein means that freshman composition is the hardest class to teach within an English department, which I'd believe. But that's not what he wrote, so we can expect someone wielding 200 calculus problem sets to write an angry letter to the editor.



Withywindle said...

Composition, French, and Lab all involve basic skills. Can't we harmoniously compromise and say that all basic skills are rather difficult to teach to eighteen-year-olds?

Anonymous said...

I wager many teachers in the sciences would actually agree with this claim. Teaching effective writing is just plain difficult. Furthermore, the inability of otherwise brilliant students to express themselves is considered a major problem in science education.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

I wonder where Anonymous teaches freshman comp... Kidding aside, yes, it's hard to teach writing, but it's even harder to simultaneously teach writing and teach whatever else it is you're officially there to teach.