Sometimes, my desk fills up with clutter: stacks of paper, typically 30–40 sheets deep, that have been arranged on top of one another in a criss-cross fashion so that they remain distinct. This represents the “work” of my students: a given assignment for a given class period, piled up and waiting to be pushed through whatever algorithm I create in order to “evaluate” it before pushing it back out to them the next time I see them (or, as is often the case with me, when I happen to remember to clean my desk…I’m terrible about returning this stuff).
The use of scare quotes in the above paragraph for words like “work” and “evaluate” is absolutely intentional. I seriously question whether or not what the students have done on these stacks of paper is “work.” Moreover, because it may not be work, then it probably doesn’t have any real value, so how can I “evaluate” it? (Unless, of course, I want to put a zero on it and then deal with the student angst that ensues!)
What have I really done?
Well, I kept us all busy. Keeping students busy means keeping me busy. Busy-ness feels like productivity, but it’s really…