Saturday, December 07, 2013

Grading War Letters to Home, Winter 2013 (The Unabridged Collection)

Preliminary note: If you're here because you're checking back for updates on the Grading War archive, rest assured that new letters are still being added as they appear.  However, this was getting a bit on the long side for a single post, so I'm breaking up the letters by day now.  Click the following links for quicker access.  (Updates posted more or less close to midnight every night.)
Day 1 (December 5)  | Day 2 (December 6)  |  Day 3 (December 7)  |  Day 4 (December 8)  |  Day 5 (December 9) |  Day 6 (December 10)  |  Day 7 (December 11)  |  Day 8 (December 12)  |  Day 9 (December 13)

The Grading War backstory: This semester I have a truly ungodly amount of pages to grade.  I taught three courses (Ethics, Political Philosophy and Existentialism), each of which required final papers, so I have at present  over 500 pages of student-writing to grade in just under a week.  Now, reading 500+ pages in a week under normal conditions is no big deal, really.  But grading-reading is not reading-under-normal-conditions.  Not by a long shot.  I explained it to my mother this way:  it's like having to read War and Peace, TWICE, in the course of a week, only you're reading a "rough draft" of War and Peace that requires critique/editing throughout, and it starts over with entirely new characters and an entirely new plot every 12 pages or so... and, most importantly, IT ISN'T WRITTEN BY TOLSTOY..

Here's the thing: no matter how much academics love teaching, their discipline, the topic of their course and/or their students, nobody loves to grade.  (My colleague Art Carden used to say: "I teach for free.  They pay me to grade.")  And because academics continue to indulge the fantasy that their travails are not only uniquely their own, but also of monumental importance to the rest of you, they tend to complain a lot and loudly when the Grading Season rolls around every May and December.  To wit, this past Thursday, after the first few hours of grading and remaining dwarfed by the massive pile of grading-still-to-do in front of me, I posted the following status update on Facebook:
Grading-Break Report #1: Have been working since 7am. The pile remains massive, seemingly immune to my efforts at reducing its power or size. I think it just laughed out loud. I blink hard in a demonstration of pride and bravery. I will not cry.
One of my friends (Marcus) commented that I should start penning these reports "in the tone of Civil War letters home."  I agreed, on the condition that Marcus agreed to being be my addressee, which he did.  And that, dear readers, was the beginning of the Rhodes College/Facebook/Twitter phenomenon now appropriately hashtagged as #GradingWarLetterstoHome

As happens with these sorts of things, others have decided to join in the fun.  My colleague, Charles McKinney, is writing similar letters during his grading breaks, bravely contributing his share as a Scribe of this War.  For posterity, if not also for a chuckles, I've decided to collect our missives here on my blog.  I'll update each time a new #GradingWarLettertoHome appears, so you'll have to keep checking back, and I'll keep them in chronological order.  You can read the letters by the PostDate by clicking the different "days" of the Grading War at the top of this post. 

Here they are and here they will continue.  Reports from the front-lines, updated daily until the Grading War mercifully ends.

Click here to read Day One of the #GradingLetterstoHome

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