Ten Things Tuesday

Ten things my students chose to write about for their position papers:

1.  Puppy mills.  This student went ahead with this despite my recommendations that she choose another topic.  The standard for a topic was that reasonable people could disagree about the issue, and she admitted that reasonable people could not defend the heinous practices of puppy mills and yet, there it was, a paper arguing against the heinous practices of puppy mills.  Sigh.

2.  Electric Vehicles.  This one wasn’t so bad, though it was boring to read.

3.  Abortion.  Natch.  This paper was horrendous; it was all I could do to figure out what the student was trying to say.

4.  Electroshock therapy.  While this student started off strong, the paper fell apart about a quarter of the way in; he focused more on the history of the practice than on arguing that the way it’s currently being applied should be reconsidered.

5.  Animal testing.  This paper was completely incomprehensible.  Observe, a cut-and-pasted paragraph from the essay:

Martasian (student’s beliefs about animal research) found that students have more negative attitudes towards animals testing than undergraduates involved in animal research. The study also shows pervious work by examining feeling towards two nations. Some previous studies of this kind were characterized by a single nation. The same study that involves the two nations, those nations were among the British and Americans. Newkirk (wrote the book Free the animals: the story of the Animal Liberation Front) found animal welfare is more highly developed in North American than in Britain. Two groups were recruited from Britain and the United States.

Really; I have no idea what to do with that.

6.  Gay rights.  This one appeared in a couple of my classes.  One student did okay with it; the other tried to argue that gay marriage should be banned because it does not provide a good environment for children.  Needless to say, I eviscerated that paper, pointed the kid in another direction (reasonable people can argue for the separation of civil and religious marriage, so I encouraged him to take that angle) and sent the paper back for revision.

7.  Obamacare.  I told the students that they were welcomed to write about what they thought was an important issue and that, even if I staunchly disagreed with their position, they’d get the grade if they did good work with it.  This kid got all of his information from well known right-wing propaganda machines and forwarded claims that I could debunk on Google.  I sent the paper back and told him to try again.

8.  Whaling.  This was another paper that started out with a good premise but fell apart before we got to page two.

9.  NASA funding.  I haven’t read this paper yet, but the kid who wrote it wrote a surprisingly effective (and entertaining) analysis about calcium, so I have high hopes.

10.  Funding for the arts in schools.  This paper is another I haven’t read yet and, to be honest, I’m kind of dreading it; the student who’s writing it hasn’t produced anything of any kind of quality all semester (AND he admitted that he started the paper the night before it was due, despite my trying to get them to run through a drafting and revision process for weeks).  Oy.





Filed under bad grammar, composition, concerns, dumbassery, failure, frustrations, I've got this kid...., Logical Fallacies, really?!, Teaching, writing, Yikes!, You're kidding...right?

6 responses to “Ten Things Tuesday

  1. Pingback: Ten Things Tuesday | The Blue Door

  2. magicalmysticalteacher

    An argument for the separation of civil marriage and religious marriage is not, ipso facto, an argument in favor of gay marriage. Just saying! 😉

    • No, it isn’t, but there was no way he could have supported his “marriage is for procreation” stance in a civil context. I wanted to point out to him that reasonable people can disagree about gay marriage (though the degree of “reasonable” coming from the anti side is, to me, negligible).

      Every argument he made in opposition to gay marriage was based on positions that the Church can legitimately make; tradition, patriarchal family structure, and procreation (though, as far as I’m aware, the very old and the infertile are allowed to wed in the Church, so even that’s a sketchy argument). I didn’t want to shoot him completely out of the sky, so I gave him an out by explaining that, even if the anti crowd is going to lose the civil fight about marriage (and it’s clear that they are), even someone as pro as I am can concede that the Church shouldn’t be forced to engage in the practice of sanctioning those unions; the separation of Church and State is, I think, the last (and only) reasonable argument to be made (and, given my general feelings about religion, that’s stretching it, even for me, but there it is).

  3. Brandon

    Why is the criteria based on what you are willing to concede is a reasonable argument? If you stand on the other side of the issue, I can’t think there would be much of any argument you would find persuasive and/or reasonable. Aren’t your students supposed to be graded on their writing, irregardless of your opinion on the matter? Your sample in #5, horrendous, but that is based on the poor writing quality. Why are you determining what the only reasonable argument is that someone else can make?

    You have limited your student to an argument that isn’t really being made on the issue. In all of the arguments over redefining marriage that I read and hear, nothing hinges on the civil vs. Church aspect, other than that I see those on the redefining side saying, “Don’t worry Churches, won’t be forced to perform a ceremony if they are against it.” And if your opinion is in any way representative of your side, it is a concession offered up very begrudgingly, which is why many doubt the veracity (not referring to you here) of those who say they don’t want that to happen.

  4. I see what you’re saying here, Brandon, but you need to recognize that this is an academic position paper; the students were told, often and early, that they needed to be able to back up their position with evidence from outside of themselves.

    The emphasis was on FACT, not FEELING, so they knew that any claim that they made that they couldn’t back up with evidence was going to be rejected. This particular student made the very easily refutable argument that marriage is reserved for hetero couples based on their capacity to reproduce, and the even MORE easily refutable argument that children benefit from being raised in a hetero household. It doesn’t matter what I THINK; that I could go to Google and pull up at least three reputable studies that completely demolished the central tenets of his argument meant that his paper wasn’t effective for the assignment.

  5. Brandon

    I can understand a bit more now given that this is an academic paper and not merely an opinion piece, for lack of a better term. However, I still think you’ve cut him short and unnecessarily restricted his parameters.

    I’m not sure off hand where one goes to find a study that points out the obvious fact that male/female relationships, as a rule and by nature, result in children, which is why the marriage relationship has always been the one set apart from other loving relationships. That’s been self-evident throughout all of human history. The government has a vested interest in setting that relationship apart to promote a long-term, stable environment for children, also recognizing that a mother and a father both bring unique traits to the child raising enterprise.

    He must not be very good with Google, as he clearly could have referenced a couple of studies that buttress his point for raising children:

    – Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin – How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study.

    – Loren Marks of Louisiana State University – Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American psychological association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting.

    Be sure to pass those along to him. 🙂

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