Dramatic wars begin with a grievous setback that makes everyone desperate to fight back, right?

I isolated myself in a coffee shop, buckled down, and pounded straight through my grading. I got it done! Early even! The students…well, umm, there were some rough spots. The mean was about 65%, brought down by one specific page where they had to do some math, and it was a massacre. I was imagining that page soaked in blood, with more pouring out of my wicked pen, and was getting a little uneasy. I know what we’re going to be going over in the next class!

Now, though, I get to go home, where my wife has some chore involving the picket fence I’m supposed to do, but once that’s over, I’ve got to honor the completion of one onerous task (if not the outcome).

I’m thinking I’ll sit back and read the new Joe Abercrombie, A Little Hatred. It seems appropriate, very grim-dark, with lots of close-fought bloody battles. For that 65%, you know, which is barely passing and means half the class is getting Ds or worse so far.

(The title does not reflect my feelings towards the students, who are my brave compatriots in the struggle to master cell biology.)


  1. John Morales says

    I was imagining that page soaked in blood, with more pouring out of my wicked pen, and was getting a little uneasy.

    Marking and commenting with red ink, then?

  2. rrhain says

    I’m reminded of my college years when I was a grader. Math 5, second semester calculus (actually 2nd year because Mudd goes through calculus in one year), brief stint in introduction to proof, and the question is to prove all sets have 2^n subsets using induction.

    About 4 of the students get it right. The common problem is they just assert you can multiply the 2^n case by 2 to get 2^n+1 without explaining why that is relevant.

    In the student newspaper that week was an editorial cartoon of a devil with a student impaled on a pitchfork. The text read something like:

    He survived chem lab.
    He made it through the Rhetoric paper.
    He plowed through the physics problem set.
    But nobody could survive…


  3. cafebabe says

    Yes students find induction difficult. But as I remember it, this was nothing compared to the blank disbelief that passed across the faces after the QED at the end of a proof by contradiction.

    At one time I was naive enough to think that students would find it funny to be told “In order to understand recursion, first, you must understand recursion.” They never did, so I stopped.

  4. square101 says

    My wife and I graded general chemistry exams when we were in grad school and the only thing worse that the sections where they had to do math were the sections where they were asked to draw out some sort of chemical compound. The drawing ones at least had answers so wrong they were humorous, the math was just always confusing how they managed to get so off.

  5. DLC says

    I always imagined the instructor sitting there, leaning over the paper, breath mask pushing air in and out in a slow rhythm. His grading pen hums ominously as it moves over the paper. Red drips onto the pages as the emperor cackles in the background. “Yes, yes, let them hate . . . “

  6. Gregory Greenwood says

    Good taste with Joe Abercrombie. He is one of my favourite fantasy authors, and probably the single most consistently anti-war author in the entire genre. Abercrombie doesn’t do the whole glorious battle thing – his fictional wars are wretched, bloody, and very often largely pointless affairs, so a pretty good rendition of the real thing.