May 10, 2020

Thoughts on Grading

Recently saw a Facebook post where a religious studies professor stated that he loved teaching but "loathed" grading. This comment was affirmed by a number of other professors or educators (presumably). One noted that, it was "the worst thing ever invented by the human species." Another used the phrase, "the grading dungeon." And still others spoke of "hating" it, that "it's worse than horrible," and a "soul sucking exercise." I believe that some if not all these comments are hyperbolic. Still, I wonder what their students think about how their teachers feel about evaluating the work that they have assigned them to do. I can only tell you how I would have felt and that would not be positive.

Although it is not always the wisest thing to do, I decided to give a minority report. I noted that I didn't necessarily love grading but I viewed it as an extension of my teaching. That is, teaching doesn't stop when I stop talking. I noted that grading was also a way to evaluate my effectiveness even though it can be a humbling exercise. Perhaps our negative view of grading suggests that, even if we claim otherwise, maybe we really aren’t all that interested in what our students are thinking (assuming that there is thinking reflected in what we are grading). 

On my best days, I don't identify myself by what I teach but rather who I teach. Teaching for me is a ministry and ministry is about serving and serving is about embracing the task at hand, enjoyable or not, because in doing so, we serve the Lord Himself. That is not a "soul sucking exercise" but a soul-fulfilling exercise. And, this might not be true for those who are not Christ-followers but for those of us who are, it surely should be.

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