Monday, March 15, 2010

Responding to Students

After reading the post “You Piss Me Off; or, Honesty is the Best Policy” from the blog The Devils in the Details by Andreas Viklund, I felt a need to respond. As a student I can understand that teachers have to read a lot of bullshit that students type just to get a good grade in the class.
The blog that I read about was a teacher who was venting about how he is reading his students papers and how they are offensive in many ways. There are a few ways that I would respond to this blog, like how I have bullshitted many papers, how I have probably written offensive things in a paper before, and how I would hate to have to read that it.
The post that I read was about a teacher, named Andreas Viklund, who was reading papers that not only made the teacher laugh but also offended Viklund. Some of the papers that the teacher was reading about had to do with homosexuality and how it is just an irrational thought. Viklund gets very pissed over just one essay that he read. He vents over the paper he just read out loud to get it off his chest. Then Viklund tries to take himself out of the grading and just ignore the entire offensive and morally wrong things that the kids were writing in their papers and grade them just to get them done.
Viklund was asking questions on what he/she should do about it. Do you speak what you feel and possibly cause problems between you and your work or just hold back and keep it to yourself? Viklund asks the same questions, “How do you address work that offends you? Do you avoid it? Brush it off? Try to correct the person? Do you tell the person you are offended? There’s a lot of debate about this in academia.”
Bullshitting Papers

In all my years of schooling I would have to admit that I have bullshitted a lot of papers! Its either that I don’t understand the assignment or I wait until the very last minute to look at the assignment and realize its going to take awhile to complete right but if I bullshit it good enough I can get at least a passing grade. I bet teachers can figure out if a student did that on a paper and I can imagine that it makes them angry. Bullshitting a paper comes into this blog because if a student bullshits a paper they don’t care what the paper contains as long as it meets the word count and has something to do with the subject of the assignment.
In the many papers I have written in 18 years I bet there is at least one paper that has offended someone or the teacher writing it. A teacher asks you to write about something that you believe in and you put down what you think and feel. When doing an assignment you don’t think about how the teacher/student is going to feel about what you write. You’re just trying to get the paper done and move onto your other homework. Which in turn, what you write can offend someone in the class, if you have to present the paper, or offend the teacher reading the paper. But the teacher can’t give you a bad grade because you did what they asked you to do but they can speak their mind; unless the teacher was like Viklund.
If I was in the shoes of Andreas Viklund, I wouldn’t be able to grade papers without speaking my mind. I couldn’t be like the teacher I read about. He said that they would just bite their tongue and not correct the person. I would be completely different, I would have corrected the person and told him if he continues to write offensive stuff then I would fail him or turn him in to the dean. I feel that Viklund should speak his mind to his students so that they don’t continue to offend the people reading their papers. And Viklund could at least say something small because the next teacher may not be so shy.
As a student I can understand that teachers go threw a lot and read a lot of things that they don’t want to even think about. But as part of their job and the assignments that they hand out they have to understand that they are going to get some weird and offensive essays. Like in the blog I read, he had those things happen that day and decided to blog about them. Have you ever thought that something you wrote about in a paper could offend someone?


  1. This post was a good read because it brought to my attention how teachers must feel when they read students papers. I can understand how they must feel but at the same time I thought about how I bullshit papers. But at the same time I still do bullshit papers just because it is sometimes more convenient.

    You are right though it must really suck for the teachers. Having to read bullshit papers that could possibly offend the teachers. If I were a teacher I would still give out papers just to see what students are talking about. I think it would be funny to read bullshit papers.

  2. I like this post. I agree with a lot of what you say in it and love that part about bullshitting papers. I too bullshitted as many papers I could during high school, but like you said teachers can sometimes tell when you don’t actually know the information. The topic you decided to respond to was very interesting. I agree when you say that the teacher should say something to his kids about the offensive writing but I disagree with failing the student or even making him write about something different. If a student is given an open topic then they should be able to write about whatever they want even if it does offend others.

  3. Awesome post. A real attention-getter this one. Although Im kinda torn between the teacher-student element. As an education major, I've been particularly socialized to think in regard to teacher (don't get me wrong, I've bullshitted my way through things too). At least you looked at it from a teachers standpoint. I've seen some of my friends papers and I pray for their professors. I personally am kind of a social darwinism type of person. You know, everyman for himself. I intend to take that approach to my students.

  4. Some strong stuff here, Cimino. My one question is about the link to the word "homosexuality." The link directs to a site decrying an assumed agenda of "teaching homosexuality in schools." By linking to it, you are implying that Viklund may be somehow responsible for teaching his students how to be gay, which appears to be sinful in the eyes of the person behind the site you linked to. That is the subtext by creating such a link. Was it subtext that you intended? If so, do you think it stays on topic with your post?