Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Undead

I've been teaching English composition for well over six years now, and in that time, there is an inevitable transition in every semester where I go from grading "fun" papers to grading "serious" papers.  This is the moment where instead of writing personal narratives, reviews, or process analysis papers, my students have to compose the dreaded research paper, and make some kind of argument about an issue that brings in outside sources.

Without fail, students who have written papers about summer vacations and romantic comedies suddenly default to harsh and bitter topics like abortion, stem cell research, and drug legalization.  Valid topics for sure, and often well-written at that, but topics that seem to lack a bit of the life and zest that previous papers carried. 

In the days that run up to the due date, I plead with my students to broaden their academic vistas and not feel tied to such hardcore issues, but then the dreaded day arrives, and I face a pile of epic sermons on the weightier issues of the day.  Every time I immediately resolve to provide my next batch of students with more examples and one-on-one counsel to help them find something to write about that they might not have considered.  For their sake...and for mine.

That's why mornings like today are so satisfying.  Once I couldn't stand the inane radio ramblings of my usual morning show any longer, I dragged myself out of bed, determined to grade at least two argument papers before heading off to the day job...and promptly graded two papers on the impending zombie apocalypse.

Now that's the way you start a Thursday.