Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Maggie Braswell- 'Relax, diagram a sentence'

I just completed a semester of “Structure of the English Language” ENG 321.  While my professor was incredible, inspiring, and hilarious, the material was difficult.  The textbook?  Dense.  Class discussion?  Confusing.  Basically, my class spent four months diagramming sentences and analyzing the possible structures inside a noun phrase.  It was exhausting.

For two of our four tests, we students were asked to grade our own papers.  We were asked to compare our answers to the correct response, and take off as many points as we saw fit.  At first, I was extremely uncomfortable with assigning myself a grade and I erred on the side of being too harsh on myself.  Even though I felt like I deserved an A on the test, I was afraid to give myself a score higher than the average score in the class.  Then, I had an epiphany.

If college is really about the individual, and classes are for the student’s benefit, why should we as students focus so much on the grade?  Why do we feel that a professor should validate us by assigning a number beside our name on the roster?  I need to know grammar structure rules so I can teach English to high school students once I get a job, not so I can get a gold star on my test and stick it on my fridge.  I should feel comfortable grading my own test any day, because I need to personally see what information I know, and what I have misunderstood out of the course.  This material is important not so students can regurgitate words onto a page; it exists to promote the development of ideas.  Grades are simply indicators of effort expended on learning.  So relax, diagram a sentence.