Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

On Term Papers and Idiots

If you want to spice up your day with a spot of righteous indignation, see this egregiously idiotic article that claims we should stop assigning term papers to our students. Instead, the article’s idiot of an author suggests that we should get students to write book reports. Generating original arguments is a waste of time, this clown says. Instead – just get this! – students should summarize the contents of books. We are talking about university students, not third-graders.

And just to think that this lazy freak has a job while so many bright, talented academics can’t get employed.

It’s always very entertaining how people are willing to blame anything but themselves for their failures. If you can’t make a term paper work and deliver something of value to your students, the concept of a term paper must be to blame. Yes, that makes a lot of sense. Let’s take this argument even further. If you can’t get your students to write good English (Spanish, Arabic, German, etc.), something must be wrong with the language. But never with you.


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9 thoughts on “On Term Papers and Idiots

  1. When I got to the part where the author proposes summaries as a substitute, I went back to the beginning on the assumption that I had missed some indication that this piece was intended to be satirical, but no.


    • That was, actually, my reaction, too. I thought it was supposed to be a parody of the worst teaching practices out there.

      Reading summaries, I ask you. At the university level? I spend half my time trying to get them to stop retelling, and now I’m supposed to encourage this? Jeez.


  2. Summarizing leads to analysis? Analysis is still the ultimate goal? Then why is the author denouncing papers in which analysis is required?


  3. the twisted spinster on said:

    As much as I loved reading, a requirement by Dade County Schools in the 1970s that made it mandatory that junior high kids write book reports for a book for every class, including PhysEd, almost made me hate books and nearly destroyed my interest in writing. That’s because we were not allowed to review the books — that is, say what we really though — instead we had to do this bullshit “write what the book is about.” I still feel rage when I think about it. (And the PhysEd thing — I hated sports and anything about sports so forcing me to read anything having to do with sports made me want to kill myself.)


  4. Of course that thing was published in Chronicle of higher ed…I already knew that before clicking on the link.


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