Monday, September 28, 2009

Sing a Song of Rhet Comp

Today my students turned in their first batch of essays. I call this: the stack of doom.

They'll hurt you, and desert you

And take your soul if you let them

Oh, but don't you let them

Consider me steeled against essays that begin, “In all of today’s society…” I won’t even let my mandatory class about the pedagogy of the dialectic of the rhetoric get to me. A pox on the discourse community!

Here is another difference between MFA and PhD. I watch the first years scramble around, saying silly things like they “can’t make lunch” because they have to “prepare.” O, first years. If higher education has taught me anything, it’s that lunch is the best part.

Today, after three years of musing on the problem with Comp, my answer today is this: by trying to appeal to everyone and teach everything it appeals to no one and teaches nothing. Fresh Comp should be eliminated and other profs forced to assign some writing instead of grading via Scantron. Writing should be part of coursework — so students have something to write about.

Wait, isn't that how a little school called Cambridge operates?

I took a Monday morning appointment for the Gyn at student health to get out of my Rhet/Comp graduate class this morning. And here I sit next to a vat of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. I might try some grading. Or not.

I need The Clapper As Seen on TV for my inside.

Soul off. Soul on.

Soul off. Soul on.

Comp is difficult to distance because the subject is near my heart, yet killing it. I have no illusion that in nine weeks I can prepare young minds for the rest of their college coursework. What? NO. And furthermore, it’s wrong of the university to put this guilt trip on me. I’m Catholic and that’s not playing fair. I see the guilt on the faces of my fellow TAs as we are lectured on our grave responsibility. The Facebook updates about how they stayed up all night doing homework. It’s so easy to make the good girls and boys feel bad. Know what? If the U really cared it would pay real teachers to teach, not throw twenty somethings in front of a classroom and hope for the best. They wouldn't prepare us by assigning articles published in 1980 about the History of the Sentence.

Strangely enough, I see that comp instructors are often the best a student gets. We’re not tenured, rifling through the same lecture notes. We love lunch and therefore we can still love. But for how long?

I don’t want you anymore

Cause you took my joy

I don’t want you anymore

You took my joy

You took my joy

I want it back

You took my joy

I want it back

The jumping through academic hoops wears a soul down. Don’t you let them.

All I want in life is to be that awesome visiting writer . The problem is my students could throw me a freaking parade at the end of this quarter and cite that parade in the correct MLA format and I would be no closer to my dream job. It’s all in my pubs. And that’s the weird part, how a creative writing professor in the eyes of the U isn’t any different from any other discipline.

Or perish.