POINT: One TA Can’t Possibly Grade it All
I am writing this message by candlelight — yes, by candlelight, like it’s the 1800s, because I can’t afford to rack up my electricity bill, but the midnight oil needs to keep burning. I am beyond tired. I have not had a proper night’s sleep in a week. My eyes are burning, my hand aches with carpal tunnel, and the scents of five different Yankee Candles® are burning my nostrils. I remember a time when life was beautiful, when I could go outside and feel the sun on my skin, hear the chirping of the birds. A time when laughter was easy, when joy abounded and was within reach. Do you remember too? There was a time before midterms, that constant slough of reading papers, grading tests, and inputting grades. And the emails! The unceasing demand of their presence, hungry mouths and hungry eyes ready to devour you whole if you pause for a second. There was a time before that, no matter how far away it seems — a whole lifetime away. I was encouraged, as I’m sure, many of you were, to become a TA — “Develop your leadership skills,” “Build rapport with a professor,” “It’ll look good on your resume!” “It’s a good opportunity for networking!” How tantalizingly sweet were those lies that fell from their lips. I enjoyed the class when I took it, I had entertained fantasies of becoming a teacher, I was naïve and overconfident. I did not know I would be signing my soul away. I have not seen my lovely wife (my roommates) and beautiful children (my awful cats) in weeks. But no more! I am putting down the red correction pen, closing my laptop, and deactivating my email. I am taking my life back! A’s for all of my students!
Wait — are you kidding me?! Another fucking email!!
COUNTERPOINT: It Builds Character
This new generation is so lazy. Back in my day, we didn’t have those computers and “iPhones” to do the work for us. I mean, how hard can it be to grade papers and input grades? I do the hard work of reading information off PowerPoint slides from 1994 and yelling at tech support when the projector doesn’t work. So what if I sometimes forget to update my already confusing Canvas page and I assign long, pedantic readings of my own textbook? Standing in front of the class and lecturing is a privilege that I have earned. I put myself through college — I didn’t have to rely on my parent’s money or government handouts.
What do you mean, “College was significantly less expensive back then?” That’s beside the point.
Why should I have to sit down and grade my stupid students’ work? It’s not right to expect a professor to
answer their students’ questions. That’s a job for someone in a lower tax bracket than me. I’ve had many TAs threaten to quit on me in the past, and even some that quit halfway through the course. That shows a serious lack of commitment and work ethic. I, on the other hand, am extremely committed to teaching. I only cancel class when I have to, like when Whole Foods runs out of my favorite breakfast wrap, or when my cat is lying on my legs and I don’t want to disturb him. I truly worry for the state of our future if this is the quality of work our young people are producing.