I'm into the intense part of my week, starting noon-ish. Today's the loooooong day after which tomorrow morning follows way too quickly.
And I'm giving back the first marked assignments today, which always brings my shoulders up closer to my ears, as if a weekend of sitting at my desk marking hadn't already done that.
There are always several students stunned by the difference between their high school marks and those they get at university. And there are always a few for whom a mark confirms what they've always known -- "I suck at English" -- and whom I have to convince that this does not have to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, that we can turn that around with work. One of the big fallacies about the writing ability is that it's genetically delivered. Certainly, there are attributes that seem inherent, but much of good writing is work.
Of course, much of it also emanates from having read copiously, thus integrating the patterns of all the writers whose words, phrases, sentence patterns, and rhetorical architecture have moved through one's imagination and neurology, settling in at an almost cellular level, guiding one's essays onto the page.
If a student has read so little that she can write, untroubled, "he played for hour a pawn hour" -- as did a student of mine in this past assignment -- that student's task becomes much more challenging, and that student's inner editor is likely to be much less useful than one might hope.
I have one more section's worth of those assignments to return today, so pardon me the need to turn to pretty pictures for solace.
Pardon me the need to remember how sunlight and shadow turn nature's simplest detritus into glorious spectacle.
Let me remember how light illuminates the dark understorey of the woods and I will melodramatically make analogies with that December glimmer beckoning to me at the end of the long tunnel that is Term. Or I will think of the happy students, the lights who worked hard following instructions on the assignment, whose attention and discipline resulted in some model responses -- their faces when they read my request for a copy of their work to keep in my Good Work Sample files for future students.