Thursday, June 01, 2006

Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!

Will there ever be an end to this!

Received yet another email from a student, about what else! but that stupid exam blunder, written in Cantonese, saying that he/she had received an old version of the exam paper, but not too bothered by it since he/she reckoned it probably didn't make much of a difference. Oh how very chilled you are, dude, dudette, whatever, man, peace out... I wonder what gave him/her the idea that I would be interested in his/her state of mind. Why not tell me about the new pair of Bathing Ape trainers you just bought as well? Hey I am very interested in that too. No, really, please do share.

Then he/she moved on to say that he/she knows somebody who apparently got 15.5 out of 15 for the test back in March. It's hard to translate what his/her tone was but I'll give it a shot.... "so, just wanna know what happened 'ere, like? Bit of a mistake or wot? I wanna know wot the uni is doing to prevent stuff like this happenin'? BTW what did you do? You know, for those who got the old version at the exam? A bit less tough when marking their essays or have them resit it or wot? Gave them a few extra marks or wot?"

My first reaction was to reply, with plenty of expletives, that there are better ways of making oneself understood, of getting a point across, if there was one. I know the HK education system don't teach you what tone to use when writing to a teacher or indeed how to write, full stop, but still, you do have a brain and there are plenty of books in the library teaching you how to do that so why don't you get your lazy arse out of that comfy chair and teach yourself something useful for a change.

Now that my fumes have subsided, a bit, I do realise that it was a bloody stupid thing to do, letting students know their continuous assessment marks. First of all, I'm completely disorganized with everything that is work related. Yet I set them four things to do for their continuous assessment. A test, write an outline, a presentation, and a written paper. For a class of 118! I have no TA to help me with any of this stuff, so not only do I have to mark everything myself, I have to enter all the marks also. Four columns of 118 rows! Why do I do this to myself? Am I suicidal? All this has got to go.

And what exactly is the point of letting them know their continuous assessment marks? To motivate them to study hard for the exam, if they had done poorly during the term? What about those who had done really well? Wouldn't that mean these students would take the exam less seriously? In any case, why does it matter whether they study hard for the exam or not? Given that at the exam, most of them can only write what they had memorised? And when they do write using their "own words", the stuff is completely incomprehensible? Maybe the point was to show how open the assessment process is? Which of course is not, since we are required to adjust the final grade distribution to fit a normal curve anyway! So you may think that you got 68 marks so you will get a B or whatever, but that's all bollocks cos if 59 other people also get 68, then your B will become a C+!

The wise have eyes in their head, but fools walk in darkness.
Yet I perceived that the same fate befalls all of them.
Then I said to myself,
'What happens to the fool will happen to me also;
why then have I been so very wise?'
And I said to myself that this also is vanity.
For there is no enduring remembrance of the wise or of fools, seeing that in the day to come all will have been long forgotten.

Ecclesiastes 2:14-16

Not sure why I quoted that but there you go!

And I did get that teaching award afterall. And you can imagine how that makes me feel.

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