I was watching last night’s American Idol, and there is this guy on the show called Danny something that the judges cannot stop fawning over. He’s a good singer and everything, but really, it’s getting to be a bit over the top. Last night he performed well, but not the best that we’ve seen from him, but still the judges declared him inspirational and life-changing and orgasmic and whatever.
(Except for my boy Simon, who declared him “good, but not excellent.” Speaking of Simon, Captain Jelly Belly says he should play Mr. Carl Sagan in a story about his life.)
Anyway, I was thinking about Danny and wondering if he actually believes his own hype, or if he is starting to feel kind of awkward about it. He seems like a smart, nice guy, and I suspect he knows when he’s given it his all, as opposed to when he just didn’t quite nail it.
And that got me thinking about high school English. I did really well in high school English, and I almost always got an A or A+…even on a few occasions when something didn’t turn out just the way I wanted, or when I half-assed the effort, or when I rushed through (probably because American Idol was on!).
I always knew when one of my essays was iffy. Yet still, I’d get an A. I always felt like such a poser, and when other kids called me a teacher’s pet, it did seem kind of true. Did I get an A based on my name alone? Did I get an A because even though it was a weak paper for me, it was still the best in the class? Or did I get an A because I had met some sort of minimum requirement, and the extra distance of originality and readability were not actually required?
So I wonder, do you think that English teachers (and other essay-type teachers, like teachers of History or Sociology) grade their papers:
A. Comparatively — so that the best paper gets an A, and the worst gets a D, and all the other papers fall in between as appropriate;
B. Objectively — so that papers that meet criteria X, Y, and Z get an A, and those that don’t get a D, and those that meet only X or Y get a B;
C. Personally — so that if someone who is usually a B student makes a big effort, they get an A, because it’s a good job for them, even if it wouldn’t be a good job for someone else; or,
D. By Reputation — so that someone who always gets an A, gets an A, unless they really screw it up.
Let’s put it to a vote — oooh, my first ever poll!