Critical Thinking

Lazy Afternoon Reruns: “Apoplectic”

In my classes, I’ve sometimes called a student’s grade “that stupid number.” This periodic outburst has been borne out of frustration that some students obviously cared more about the numerical grade than about learning. When I would hand back papers, essays, stories, or poems that I had read multiple times, marked thoroughly and diligently, and scored as conscientiously as I could, I would see some of them look only at the final score and try to hand it back to me; others, usually fewer, would do what I hope they will all do: genuinely read my comments, and even ask for clarification on them. Incensed that my efforts at teaching could mean so little, so much less than the number that I am required to dole out, I sometimes have a minor conniption and call grades what they are: a stupid number.

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