Grading is boring. Mostly. It’s not so much painful as just boring. I’m not frustrated or angry at writing the same comments over and over, and seeing the same mistakes. I expect that. It’s okay. I’m asking my students both to cope with Middle English and to do a kind of detailed literary analysis that most of them aren’t used to. I can teach that, and I do, and by the end of the term most of them will get it, but the first paper shows that they can’t really believe I want what I say I want, and that they feel safer falling back on the kind of thing that has served them in the past. I get that. We can work on all this.
But I get so bored that it’s hard to stick with the task.
And then, finally, I remembered the solution: music! I can’t believe I forgot that. The problem is that I cannot work on writing or other “serious” work with music playing (except in coffee shops, where somehow I concentrate to block it out and that concentration is actually part of the way work in coffee shops happens). So after a summer of quiet work alone in my study, I really do forget that for some kinds of tedious work, music is the answer. It gives my fretful monkey mind something to think about while the teaching brain comments away and plots how to present these lessons the next time we talk about doing this kind of criticism.
So never mind the four papers and a break. Once I got a soundtrack, I sat in front of an open window and worked steadily for a couple of hours, getting through 9 or 10 papers in that time. That’s a respectable rate. I’ll still be grading all weekend, but it’s looking like a less horrid prospect now.
As Z would say, it is the weekend so we will sing.