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.


cbh said...

you should have them write a research paper on their lazy ass generation!

Mean Mommy said...

Oh how well I know this frustration. When I told my students they had to have at least 4 sources for their research paper on Othello, one asked me if the play itself counted as a resource.

It's only 4...shit!

cbh said...

I've tagged you to help create a teacher's passion quilt. Visit my blog for the directions. You can take this in the literal sense of being a teacher or being a teacher to your children...which you do so well.

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Johns said...

I'm so sick of hearing everyone moan about youth. No matter when or where those who deal with the young swear it's the first generation to blahblhablah...

MLA is a joke, it frustrates adults too. So you're a teacher you above anyone should understand that kids work on the minimum assumption like using othello as a source in an othello paper. The "engfish" studetns are taught is how to look like they're fufilling the goals w/o doing the work. You know why we do it??

B/c teachers and schools fail to challenge interest or really try. You assume the kids are full of BS so they give you BS! and you all deserve it

AB said...

Perhaps if it all wasn't so "Witness. Regurgitate. Witness. Regurgitate." (note that "absorb" is not the verb used) students would gain a greater sense of fulfillment from the written production process.

The issue is that no matter how many 10-page pieces of APA and MLA schmaltz we spew, it isn't worth a thing. It's the same damned nonsense that the kid two seats away from us produced, and it's the same damned nonsense that the professor is going to look at for five minutes, say "this fits the rubric and this doesn't," stamp with a meaningless grade, and hand back two weeks later.

I hate college. I understand the plight of the instructors, I do. I sympathize entirely. But somewhere along the line Western academia got tossed aside for this sort of repetitive droning that puts a knot in my stomach every time I have to whip up another 10-pager.

4 down, 6 to go.

I would cry right now, but apparently I'm a robot.