I just finished grading the final exams in my course on Contemporary Spain and I’m happy to report that for the very first time in my long and productive teaching career I have been able to give a well-deserved grade of A for every single exam written in this section. These students amazed me, people. We covered so much material in the course, yet the students managed to absorb it and analyze it in a shockingly excellent manner.
And this wasn’t just some easy-peasy multiple choice, “When did the Spanish Civil War begin?” kind of exam. Oh no, not at all. The students were asked to write 3 essays on the history, politics and economy of Spain in the XXth century. Real analytical essays. In Spanish.
Of course, this was an exceptional group all semester long. They always studied together, formed groups to go over the material, persecuted me with questions, helped each other. As a result, the final exams were sensational. Obviously, not everybody will get an A in the course. In fact, most people won’t. But this is a great achievement for a final exam. I’m thinking I must be a pretty darn good teacher to get them so interested in the material.
I’m now sitting here, bawling my eyes out because this is true happiness for a teacher. To see an entire group of students engage with the material in such a passionate, insightful, deeply personal way is priceless.
And to the person who told me that the course wouldn’t work, that the students wouldn’t care, that they were not prepared for this amount of complex material, that I should stop thinking that I’m still at Cornell, that I should start dumbing down my material, I have this to say: put this in your pipe and suck on it, fella. And then stick it deep into your anal cavity.