Tuesday, October 6, 2009

At Least They Know They're Bad At It

Ah, it's grading-time again in this English teacher's classroom. Which means, I spend a whole day preparing myself to read some incredible work.

Many of my students either don't know or don't care about grammar, spelling, and mechanics. Few know how to tell a story. These are high school kids... I'm doing my best, but I can't overcome motivational deficiencies.

But, at least my students generally know they're not good writers. They don't think that their work is of publishable quality. They just want to get their credit and move on. Sadly, few actually want to learn anything while earning the credit.

I can only imagine if I was reading their work in a slush pile. I'm already somewhat disheartened by the lack of quality, time, and attention. (Why, yes, I do worry about the future in these kids' hands.) It would be awful to slog through such poorly written work from people who mistakenly think they are good at it. People who want to see me select their work as the best of all, suitable for publication.

While my collection of writing samples is from a particular, low-standards group, I do, from time to time, get students who think they are good and would love to be published. Students who've never noticed how quotation marks are used, who 'have no idea' where to put periods in their writing, who don't even bother to break their writing in paragraphs (unless required by their teacher who's eyes glaze over with huge chunks of horrible text.)

In writing, as with many things, I've come to the conlusoin, that those who are bad often don't realize that they are bad at it. Bad drivers never see that their close-calls or citations are from their own actions. Bad writers don't think that their poor handling of the craft is reason for rejection. Those with poor social skills may just think the world hates them. And American Idol is a lovely tribute to the people who think they can sing... but shouldn't ever be allowed to, again.

Yes, I'm procrastinating. That's something I know I'm good at...

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