Monday, September 29, 2008

Teaching Stuff

Scott sent me this funny video of Taylor Mali called "The The impotence of proofreading":

This guy is maybe a little self-important for my taste. He is part of the Poetry Slam scene, something people are always asking me about and which I know little about -- though what I know makes it feel like it is not my thing. He considers himself a poet, and you can hear in some of his more unnatural elocutions something of poetry's mannerisms. I like mannerism, especially in David Mamet -- but am not sure this guy would not be better without them. So Mali considers himself a poet, but I think there are better ways to describe him. His most famous piece, What Teachers Make, is a kind of half inspiring, half cringeworthy performance that feels like Aaron Sorkin pushed a little too hard. "The The impotence of proofreading" feels much more like old time-y piano comedian Victor Borge than it does like any poet I can think of. But maybe I would feel differently if I was reading it rather than hearing it out loud (though someone will object that since poetry was originally written to be spoken aloud this is closer to the origin anyway, which I can see, but now this whole line of thought it making me tired).

Anyway, I thought this might be a fun place to hear from teachers about funny things students write and say. Here is one from Scott:

From a sample from a paper I just graded today from a student who was writing about coming from the more urban (urban being a relative term hear) area of Woodbridge, Va to the very rural Radford, Va: "With McDonald's resturants being a key indicator of modernization, it dawned on me that as I moved closer to my destination that I was leaving behind the civilizationn I had grown up with in favor of a more rudimentary, Hardee's based community."

And one from me:

One of my favorite moments in class was when i showed a clip from the McKellen Macbeth and then later told them Patrick Stewart was doing Macbeth on broadway, and one of them said "So both Magneto and Professor X have been Macbeth?"


scott91777 said...

Just last week:

"I ran to the beach, filled with excrement!"

I'm getting more papers in on Wednesday, I'm keep an eye out then.

neilshyminsky said...

I know that I should be keeping a log of the particularly good bits from student papers for precisely this reason, but it always slips my mind. I remember the disturbing/problematic stuff most clearly, most of which is not very funny at all.

Anonymous said...

After returning the first draft of a freshman comp paper (the classic 'Identify a problem on campus assignment') with comments suggesting the student needed to cite his sources, the next draft of the paper opened with:

According to Wikipedia, a parking lot is "a large paved surface that provides a space for cars not currently being driven" (

scott91777 said...

"Robert Frost reminds me of Walt Whitman, they both have transcendental movement happening in them."

scott91777 said...

"Winter Dreams" of a guy named Dexter who keeps getting screwed over by a woman named Judy."

You know, sometimes there ability to simplify things is astounding.

From my officemate, James:

"People have been living on this world for many decades"

No! Surely no one was alive back then!

neilshyminsky said...

In a tutorial for a class where we were reading Blake and Wordsworth, a student informed me that the latter was writing in the 1990s. She had evidently mistaken the year of publication of the anthology for the year that Wordsworth had actually written it.

Jason said...

That guy in the clip should've said "douche yourself a flavor" at the end.

Todd C. Murry said...

Most of the reports I do involve transcriptionists, so my funny stories have to do with massive misunderstandings of stuff I've said by the person trying to get it all down. My favorite: HIV risk factors came out as "hates ivy wrist fractures," leaving me with a sustained image of someone who just hates ivy so goddamn much that they, on sight, immediately start punching the walls that the ivy clings to. Very common ailment in New England.