Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I Hate Research Papers

I feel depressed. Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's the time change affecting my body, or maybe it's the fact that my classes just started work on their spring semester research papers and I know that in about three weeks, I'll be living underneath a big pile of notecards, MLA handbooks, and pages and pages of student BS, as they attempt to write research papers without actually having to do any research. (Sigh).

My classes were all in the Media Center today and I'm exhausted. Even though I gave explicit instructions, hand outs, and notes, none of them seem to be able to complete a correct MLA-formatted works cited entry. "Mrs. Pearl!" they yell, "I can't find anything on Martin Luther King, Jr." "Does Wikipedia count as a source?" "I need to change my topic!" "What if my brother wrote a paper on this last year. Can I cite his paper?" See what I mean?

I had to say things like "You're actually going to have to read the article." and "No, you can't just google this and expect the perfect site to pop up!"

Kids are so "right now," and I guess it's because we live in a world where pretty much anything you want is a button-click away. Want to watch a movie? Hit "on-demand." Want a map to Disney World?" Click on mapquest. Want to talk to your mom? Pull out your cell phone and hit 2 on speed dial. They rarely have to wait. Everything is instant gratification.

Research is not like that. It takes time, dedication, critical reading skills, note-taking skills, processing, and thought. No wonder it's so painful.

So, stacks of papers to grade or not, I guess I've just talked myself back into the REASON behind the assignment, the reason I give it so much time. Yes, I have a lot to grade...but it's because they will be learning a lot.

And that's a good thing.