Monday, 23 April 2007

ANZAC Biscuit Day, coming soon to an essay-marker near you

You know you've hit the celebrity A-list when you start receiving exclusive invitations to all-day ANZAC Day essay marking parties. Am I Ms Social Fritillary 07 or what?

I have cunningly neglected to join a Melburnean pipe band, so my 25th April is free from the annual moral torment of being me, a militarism-sux-and-so-does-nationalism-ist bagpiper with a weakness for rosemary and old men in berets. This year, instead of hanging out in Martin Place with the tartan posse, instead of tripping over my own ideological angst and drooling on my pipes, I'll be living it up in North Fitzroy with a buncha hard-livin', essay-markin' swingers. BYO pencil sharpener.

Who needs red lights when there are red pens to be had?

13 comments:

Karen said...

Hope you have the Pimm's handy during the precedings- and a staircase to throw them down should you decide to let gravity do the grading for you.

alexis said...

I've never tried teaming Pimm's with undergraduate essays. Could be a lethal combination.

As for the staircase technique, I love marking so much (truly!), I'd never squander the pleasure like that.

Karen said...

I love marking so much (truly!)

Surely you jest! In my experience, there's usually about a third which show genuine talent and are a pleasure to read and then there's the averagey ones which merge into each other, rendering you almost comatose if you get a long run of them. Of course the surreal highjinks of the tail end can give one a much needed prodding.

The staircase technique was reputedly Christopher Brennan's, if I'm remembering the story correctly.

alexis said...

No, I jest not. Obviously, there are things I prefer: sleeping, reading, swimming, wallowing in chocolate, etc. But very few of us are permitted, nay, encouraged, to wax pedantical, to pounce on the malapropisms of our fair fellow citizens, to shine light into the darkest recesses of the human brain, to find meaning in the mangled syntax of tortured young essayists. And, of course, I love the rare gems in the gritty rubble of essaydom more than words can say.

My mate down the corridor is trying to work up the insensitivity to scrawl "Try accountancy" on her less promising students' essays. (Do the accounting teachers write "Try English"?)

N.B. I don't subscribe to the Accountant/Belletrist Incompatibility Theory.

Karen said...

I suppose it's something to do with being such an untidy person (in every sense!) myself, but I've just never been able to develop a passion for pedantry (although my friends would probably hoot at that). I think Lynne Truss should be clobbered. But I do have a great love of the fortuitous mistake, which makes you think about a particular word or construction in a different way. Sometimes people write the most glorious poetry entirely unawares.

I suppose what gets to me is writing the comments. I always try to write something nice first, to soften the blow of what I might have to say later, but it gets very difficult to do that as I get to the ones I've graded at the bottom. I simply could not live with myself if I wrote "Try accountancy". I remember a girl from school telling me that her philosophy lecturer had told her "Philosophy is too rigorous. You should try something more feminine, like literature or languages". I've given myself till the end of May to get the MS ready and, believe me, the mood swings that provokes make my customary marking despair look like a picnic!

I would certainly not spurn an accountant either!

alexis said...

I don't think you have to say something nice, but if there is nothing nice to say, then it's important to say something constructive. "If you were to do X, Y, and Z (and here's how to do them), your essay would be pots better".

I enjoy writing the comments. They're a special genre all their own. My inner T. Carlyle goes wild.

Karen said...

Yeah, I do wind up at the "constructive" end of things eventually. I'm sure it doesn't much matter, as probably only 0.25% of students can read my handwriting anyway!

Your inner Carlyle? That sounds absolutely terrifying! I've always loved what William Morris said about Carlyle- that he needed someone to sit beside him and punch him in the head every five minutes. Maybe we all need someone to do that for us!

Karen said...

Not that I mean to suggest that you need to be punched in the head!

(Hiding behind hand)

alexis said...

Might give the head punching a miss this time round. I need all the brain cells I've got.

wool spaniel said...

Lexicon asks: do the accounting teachers write "Try English"?

Having heard some tortured moans emanating from the rooms of various accounting teachers currently marking exams, I believe they actually write "Learn English!"

And jolly decent types they are, too, these accounting teachers. One of them is even an extravert. (He looks at my shoes while he's talking with me.)

Happy Anzac biscuit essay-marking festival.

alexis said...

Thanks, WS. My host is farming out her youngkers to a babysitter, and she and her beloved and I are all going to sit around her loungeroom with our piles of essays. Fun fun fun!

I once made two three hour car trips in a day with a couple of gentleman accountant bagpipers. On the way down we discussed taxation laws, and on the way back we discussed AFL.

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