I am currently marking essays. Good god, what a job. I haven't come up for air for a week. I can't believe that those marvellous Americans have elected a new leader of the western world and I haven't even managed to pass comment on it. My husband has managed to secure some freelance work and all I've been able to say is 'that's nice dear' before getting back to writing in pencil on some poor first year's effort 'you must support your claim' or 'how does this connect to your argument?' and, thankfully, sometimes 'good point!'
I had no idea how difficult marking essays would be. It involves trying to assess to what degree the student answers the question. This is nowhere near as easy as it sounds; I've had to read and reread every single one and some are clearer than others. Some you really have to put in a bit of effort to extract their argument, these are first essays after all, and you really don't want to demoralise anyone. Is demoralise the right word here, cripes words are beginning to look and sound terribly alien? And do you know how much it pays, this essay marking malarkey? Two pounds and five pence a piece. I've had twelve to do and it's taken me over a week. Some have taken longer than others but on average it probably takes about two hours an essay. Giving useful, positive feedback is the hardest thing: I have to be able to support my claim. It's been like sitting the worlds most arduous exam. I've even pulled a muscle in my upper right thigh from sitting down too much. There are good things about it though, and I'm glad I'm doing it. Most of my students have managed some moments of brilliant insight and one or two of their essays have been a joy to read. I hope my comments have made that clear and they'll all feel uplifted when they get the essays back in tomorrow's class. I also hope they'll challenge me if they feel I've misunderstood them. After all I'm not the goddess of academic writing. If I get a moment I'll let you know how it went, once it's been that is.
Now I have to write a CV and a covering letter for that job I mentioned. Will I ever get time to write fiction and poetry again?
Anyway, well done America, and I'll be over to visit all my American (and other) cyber pals as soon as I can .