The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight


July 19, 2005

Does anyone actually enjoy grading? I admit that I get something of a kick out of reading a smart, elegant essay or exam. I particularly enjoy essays that show a flash of brilliance, even if their mechanics leave a bit to be desired. I also recognize the importance of grading: I really do try to give each student’s work the attention it deserves, and to provide constructive feedback that will help them improve in their writing and critical-thinking skills. I didn’t mind grading half as much when I was teaching small seminars and I would meet with my students to discuss each paper with them.

Still, when I try to describe what it is like to grade I often resort to metaphors involving large, brain-sucking monsters slowly gorging themselves on my consciousness and leaving in place the backwash of their bilious orifices.

So, I ask again: does anybody actually enjoy grading? Because, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I don’t.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.