The Matriculated Marker: On being both student and teacher

“Here, in college… you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of the instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you A’s. Originality on the other hand could get you anything – from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it.”

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Last weekend, I set about the task of marking my students’ dissertations. I went to a trendy but usually quiet cafe (there are lots of these around the North West of Northern Ireland, and they usually have identical menus) and after a pot of tea had passed I still hadn’t finished marking even one of them. The bearded barista, clearly a perceptive young man, offered me a refill gratis. “Thank you,” I said, adding darkly “It’s dissertation time.” Continue reading “The Matriculated Marker: On being both student and teacher”

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On Safe Spaces and Samuel Richardson

“Now all we have to worry about is all the other books, and, of course, life, which is huge and complicated and will not warn you before it hurts you.”

Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

Two weeks ago I found myself encountering an interesting pedagogical challenge: teaching a book that centres upon a woman surviving a sexually traumatic event and reframing her recovery by marrying her would-be rapist. Continue reading “On Safe Spaces and Samuel Richardson”