Read it and weep

It’s Shit my Students Write.

Some of it’s hilariously depressing:

I think Harriet Tubman was courageous because being an underground construction worker was very dangerous. That is why I think she was courageous.

Some of it’s enragingly depressing:

Racial profiling has been around forever and can happen to any race, of any kind, at any time. However African Americans, Hispanics, and descendants from the Middle East are far more likely to complain about it than any other race.

(I guess a charitable reader could see the above as a poorly worded way of saying it happens more often to these groups. Though the moderator titles it “Profiled as the Whiniest Race”, suggesting a different reading, which I do think is more natural.)

9 thoughts on “Read it and weep

  1. OMG…what grade are you teaching? Tell me it’s grade 9! because I have written some shit in my life but this is very scary.

    Okay on the other hand?? as a mother of two students…?? I’m not so sure I would appreciate my student’s work being shamed like this. We all need to learn and even though this is really poor, could this not be the fault of the teachers they have had coming up??? Not that anyone is teaching these students that kind of misinformation…clearly these people do not know how to read, take in information, study and write.

    I have a child who is on the autism spectrum who is currently in the Honor’s College at a very fine Uni in the Midwest…he is constantly being asked by TA’s to dummy down his work because he brings in information from other sources that perhaps the TA’s don’t even know nor have time to research. It drives him crazy, he is getting poor marks, finds it difficult to understand what the TA’s want, and as a result he probably will not be able to maintain the grades required to stay in the honors program. There are many problems in our education on both sides of the fence.

  2. Yeah, I’ve always been rather opposed to sites like “Shit my Students Write.” Our students can be ignorant, but it violates their trust to publish their dumbassery for the world to see. I know it’s ‘just venting’ from the teachers’ points of view, but vent over wine in private. It is not necessary to advertise your contempt for your students or your disinterest in trying to do your educator’s job. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect to SUCCEED at teaching them. But to just publish the foolish things kids say and advertise your contempt for those you pretend to take an interest in serving is… Well, it’s Shit My Colleagues Publish. (I don’t mean the poster here; what she’s doing is more meta, calling attention to the site. I mean to refer to the student-bashing enterprise per se.)

  3. I think sharing excerpts of student writing – especially where it is pretty much just for amusement’s sake – is very much unethical. It would not surprise me if also turned out to be illegal.

  4. I’m inclined to think that we might try to construct a case for the other side before we leave it. A case, that is, for why it is ok to share such stuff on a blog.

    Unfortunately, right now I’m more interested in getting back to sleep.

  5. The case surely involves the fact the the posts are anonymous and untraceable. So hard to see the harm, and great pleasure can come from it. (Not everyone has someone to share with over a bottle of wine.)

    I see both sides, really.

  6. Publishing short quotes from students work can be both cathartic and awareness raising. If the point of the site is just “har har students are dumb” and that’s all that becomes of it, then yes that’s dickish. But it can also show that this isn’t a dig at individual students; it’s cultural commentary. It’s “har har this is what passes in our culture as competent or average. This is what some people end up retaining from formal education.” I don’t think contributing to this kind of site necessarily entails that you have contempt for your students.

    I would think especially if a site is showcasing quotes about race and gender, there’s a chance that this more than just laughing at students. It’s showcasing what can pass as a normal thought process and how words and ideas can be superficially associated with one another.

  7. Hey, good job with the perspective, Logoskaieros!

    You are persuasive, and therefore, surely on to something. This particular site seems not to quite live up to what you’re describing, since the lead post right now is about the “Pastrami’s” (the castrati), and rather more of a ‘look how stupid they are’ post.

    I didn’t say that contributing necessarily entails anything. However, I would point out that whether or not one has such contempt, exercising one’s capacity for mockery can be quite conducive to developing said contempt, or at least, to seeing the objects of one’s posts as, more and more, mere means rather than ends in themselves. Many of us have had the experience of trading anecdotes about the shit our students say, and in addition, many of us have worked in retail, food, tech support, etc. In so many of these service jobs, it is common to have the experience of swapping ‘war stories’ with coworkers as a method of bonding, a way to say, “you get me!” and to relieve the boredom of the more drudgerish aspects of the job. (drudgerish! TM) But indeed once one gets in the habit of trading the stories and laughing over the successively better ‘n’ better ones, it is quite often the case that one comes to think of those one ‘serves’ as really obstacles, or means to more bonding, or deserving of something rather less than respect.

    I know this risk well. I’ve given in to hating my customers and to joking about my students. I’m not saying I’m typical, but… wait, yes I am! I’m saying, I’m typical, and it’s understandable. But I think it’s also immoral or at least carries serious moral risk.

  8. The “about” part of the site says, “Evidence of the true cost of educational funding cuts.” That seems to me to make a difference. The students are producing garbage, but the responsibility is located elsewhere. I’d like the site more if the part about evidence was on each page, and maybe given as a subtitle.

    I do think there are complex questions here about shaming and education. And the entries seem to me to be very mixed. Some of these I suspect are students trying to wing it; they haven’t bothered to read more than a few sentences and they are trying to fill a word or page requirement. Others might be carelessness, dyslexia, a failure to realize that one needs to think beyond stringing the words together, and so on.

    I also think that in a way the site is useful because it reminds one of the ways in which they can go wrong, and the kinds of remedial action we probably need to take. It might be interesting to take students in a class through the site and ask them to think about what produces stuff teachers really dislike. It might get them to reflect a bit on the mechanisms producing their work.

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