Last week, my best friend, Kristina, sent me her brother’s paper to look over. He is a sophomore at a college in Wyoming, and he had received a C on his last paper. She wants him to succeed because he is trying really hard, so she sent me the paper to have it looked over before he submitted it.
I read through it, and it was great. Sure he had a few comma mistakes and didn’t cite his sources correctly, but they weren’t major enough for them to complicate the message/reading for me. Kristina and I redirected him to a website that would help him correct those minor errors himself. He corrected the slight errors and submitted the paper.
Kristina texted me yesterday that her brother got a 79 on the paper. She was livid, he was livid, and I was confused. That paper was easily A quality; he structured his thoughts into well-developed paragraphs, he used humor, he used outside research. It was truly a great paper. However, the English professor didn’t think so. The teacher wrote comments on his paper like: “lack of idea development”, “sentence structure is rough”, “plenty of grammatical/spelling errors”, “what?” (by his humor)….and so on.
Kristina was clearly upset because her brother is trying so hard to do well in that English class. I couldn’t help but flip out a little bit. I told Kristina that everything that professor did is everything we are taught not to be. She did nothing but humiliate his writing by writing demeaning comments and acknowledging the technical errors rather than the quality of the content. I’m pretty sure this professor didn’t even read his paper for the content; she just read through it to find structural/technical errors.
Here’s hoping that I am never like that teacher; here’s hoping I never shut down a student’s writing by pointing out all the flaws with no positive feedback.