Sunday, November 13, 2011

Student is Offended By Grade

A Student Writes

Thank you for taking the time out to grade our group's paper. I just wanted to say that I was a little offended when you commented on us having  "Poor writing skills". I know that by no means are we perfect in writing. And it's probably a good thing neither of us are looking to become journalist. However, I personally, feel insulted to hear that in my senior year I confused words that would potentially be an embarrassment in business writing.

I would like to give you a little bit of a background on me:

I was once a high school drop-out and did not attain my GED until ...

I respond:

I’m very sorry you feel insulted as that was not my purpose. My purpose is to help you advance by pointing out a deficiency that you are capable of correcting. One of the very serious mistakes the educational system makes is emphasizing self-esteem at the expense of hard skills.  I don’t recall which paper is yours, but if I said that the writing needs work, that is my true belief. It has nothing to do with insulting you.  It is a way to help you achieve your goals.  I am on your side.  I could do what most others do and what I did for years:  ignore the writing issue and pretend that all is well. But that is not going to help you. 

If you look at your pique from my standpoint, you might consider that I pay a price for what I do with the grading. I could give everyone an A or B+ and say everyone’s paper’s great. Instead, I spend a week of my time thoroughly reviewing your work and giving you pointers as to how to improve.  I don’t get paid more for doing that rather than just giving everyone an A or B+ and doing little more.  

As far as your background, given the impressive gains you’ve made since returning to school, I would think that you would appreciate my selfless and unrewarded efforts in helping you improve. I’m not BSing you, trying to make myself into  a VIP, or building my own ego.  This is a painful, time consuming process for me that I do to help you. I get nothing in return for it. I could not do it. But that wouldn’t be of help to the students.