html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: No need to name names. Scott, Peter and t_n. Teo, we'll discuss your attitude later.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

No need to name names. Scott, Peter and t_n. Teo, we'll discuss your attitude later.

When I was a TA, the single hardest thing for me to teach was to follow the test instructions. Follow the instructions. If it said "Define and then give an example", I would explain to the class that I would give half the credit for a definition and half the credit for an example. That means that if you gave a VERY EXCELLENT definition, one that was exactly right and showed how well you understood, you would have answered half the question, which was worth a failing grade.

I would explain this, and then I would quiz the class. "If you only write a definition, what would your grade be?" "If you only write an explanation, what will your grade be?" Then I would ask them what they should do to pass the test. You would think that this was too patronizing, too infantilizing, that they would resent this. BUT IT STILL TOOK THEM TWO MIDTERMS TO FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS. Yes, no doubt this is how Dr. Schmidt's professionalism is maintained and enforced, and no doubt I am creating a little cohort of mindless direction followers. But I tell you what, potential blog commenters. If you don't accompany your analysis with a feeling or experience or creation, something that you witness or generate, you aren't getting through.

UPDATE: I didn't know this would be this hard. Like, tell me something that caught your eye. Or describe a feeling you had. Without analyzing it. Here:

Evening on a new porch with an easy book. Fizzy water with a strawberry cut into it. Good trees on this street. Purple ornamental plum in front of a budding-out elm, both bathed in late golden light. Wistful for the flowers at my own house, which are so beautiful right now.

UPDATE II: Justus, nope. -A, more feeling about Stupid Directions!. Scott, getting closer. Was the point that you're frustrated?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we get extra
credit if our comments are
in haiku format?

1:49 PM  
Blogger Noel said...

Around these parts 40% is the cut-off for a pass. Additionally, honours are handed out to everyone, with the degree of honours (1st, 2nd, 3rd) being the only distinguishing factor between students. I find this disgusting, as I believe it cheapens our degrees, but my undergrad experience was in a different system so I don't know if my experience is atypical.

Semester ended today. I'm proud of (almost) all my students, but especially the ones who became proactive over the course of the semester and actually ended up pestering me for help. Also satisfying -- apparently my feedback was very good, though I have not seen it. My lesson from this semester is that students really do need teaching. Pointing them in the right direction is not sufficient. It took much more effort on my behalf than I expected to get the students to learn the material. It took me a few weeks to realise this, and I think it hurt the students' progress. So, next time I'll put this effort in from the start.

Today I read a blog post about someone's travels in Italy, and then Megan posts about sitting out on her porch. I love the English summer but I'm sure the winter was more bearable before I got ASDL. Mystery trip tomorrow, which I'm greatly looking forward to. I hope it involves the ocean. I want a landscape that is wild and alive.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are you talking about Megan? I must have missed something here.


3:44 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I'm trying to get everyone to follow my new comment policy. Every time you say something analytical, you must accompany it by something non-analytical. Describe or create something original.

I'm probably going to lose this as thoroughly as I lost the No Compliments battle, but the good ones are great, so I'm holding out for a while.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the point?


4:07 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

If only I had written a long post explaining exactly what had prompted all this!


Dave's throws skim along, waist height, and come to land in my hands. He snags my throws out of the air, way far across the field.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I read those posts, I still don't get it.


4:52 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

What did the posts say?

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they said
and, most recently

1) it's not clear what you want. I have to explain a feeling or experience I had? Like, pertaining to the subject at hand, or any random experience or feeling?

2) If it's any random feeling, then what does it have to do with anything?

3) I don't see the comment thread that started all of this.

4) You were talking about the election, and complaining about the analysis, but I don't see any posts? Maybe you were referring to stuff you were reading elsewhere.

So, yeah, I have no idea what you're talking about.


5:07 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

They said that policy blogland is too think-y for my current tastes and I've had my fill. I am tired of critical analysis.

Because I am tired of critical analysis, I've started dreading my own comment sections.

To see if I can change that, I decided that if you want to offer critical analysis, which is a second hand evaluation of something, you must also offer a first hand creation.

It doesn't have to be on the same topic. You just have to create or see or feel, to compensate for adding more analysis to an already saturated system.

That's why.

A blue and white teacup from my grandma.
A coffee mug that looks like a canning jar from Ali.
A green glass for water.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

I guess I get it, though it seems a little ridiculous.

Fluffy kitties.


6:41 PM  
Blogger Marcus said...

Megan, you would like William Carlos Williams.

But I can't live up to the policy. First my back went out, then I got pneumonia, so I couldn't exercise, and I broke up with my touchy girlfriend, and I'm on the unsensual east coast now, and I'm *drowning* in thinkiness. I feel like my body is dissolving into a stream of fluorescent-lit electrons, and not in a good way.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Vivid, Marcus. Dude. Go home and sleep.

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in the South, although my parents are mid-Westerners and hold everything in, or let you know how they feel in quiet, private little conversations. Probably the kind you would have when it's snowing outside and everyone is sitting around the fire.

But in the South we didn't have things like snow or fireplaces, and people didn't communicate honestly in private little conversations. In the South, the weather is hot and people are exuberant and loud, but would never be so rude as to say anything bad about someone else, no matter how necessary it might be. Nobody actually knows how anybody else feels. It would no more be polite to reveal your real feelings than to wave your genitals at a dinner party. If you have a major problem with someone you live with, you just keep it bottled up until you have a breakdown. This is why divorce rates in the South are so high.

Now I live in DC, in the Northeast. Here, people express exactly what they feel with volume, clarity, and no embarrassment whatsoever. Sex, money, religion, and politics are perfectly valid topics of discussion. People reason out their feelings and differences verbally, like in a Woody Allen movie. People may have feelings, but they regard them analytically. What a relief to be in a place where feelings are so unimportant that they can be discussed like the new living room furniture. This is why I make DC my home.

- Thelonious_Nick

5:56 AM  
Blogger Marcus said...

Also, I meant "touchy-feely" for my ex-girlfriend, not touchy-nasty. Wouldn't want to badmouth anybody, even if they are only an imaginary character here.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous doctorpat said...

I think that definition of "touchy" was given by the context.

I also think that blaming the heat on the difference between American states is subject to easy disproof. Because I experience that even hotter places (Such as Australia) are far less exuberant and loud, but would never be so rude as to say anything bad about someone else, no matter how necessary it might be while places like Russia are even more so.

(OK. Russia is a totally different culture, but Australia is probably as close as you are going to get outside of North America.)

I can also follow Megans logic, that once you are analysing the meta-analysis of the different opnions about how people are going to react to the latest opinions about the........ that you are much better off going outside and doing something.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

I have a theory that most human beings are incapable of following directions, particularly written ones. They simply follow environmental cues. The GMAT writers use this to give lots of people low scores.

There is a totally cool and HUGE and ELECTRIC blue spider on the pedestrian bridge on my way to work. Dude, think palm sized with little yellow strips to set off the blue beautifully....

5:01 AM  

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