Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.


Still marking…

Trying hard to be constructive and encouraging.

Trying hard not to be like a vitriolic American/NZ Idol judge.

But at times it’s all so trying…

Strands of U2’s song “Grace” keep running through my head – “Grace finds beauty in everything.”

As an aside I had a classmate who had the following left on his Uni essays by the marker on two occasions.

“An artist once painted an painting by lowering a running motorcycle into a bath of paint and splattering the paint onto the canvas – your essay resembles this.”

And on another bad day all it had on it was the Bible reference Dan 5:7-8.

Took him (and the door to our room) a while to recover.


  1. Tim

    I like the biblical reference, I wish I could use it on one or two students, especially in exams 😉

  2. maggi

    Love the Daniel ref! Don’t you think the hardest thing in marking and supervising is being rigorous enough to teach them something, but kind enough not to destroy them. How to be kind without being lenient… that’s what I’m trying to learn. My own Director of studies when I was an undergrad was the master of this art. He was VERY tough academically while being sweetly constructive about everything I attempted.

  3. Balancing the rigour and grace is hard because it takes time too. To mark in a constructive way means more than going “tick, tick, tick, cross, ?, tick, B+” Even more frustrating when you’ve given them hints, prior guidance and lectured explicitly on the topic and they ignore it all.

    Still I remember my 4th year Computer Science honours class getting the “New Zealand Rail Award” at the end of year gathering – “For delivering almost on time to almost the right place something that might, on a good day, resemble what was asked for. Or then again might not.” Certainly summed up some of my work back then.

    Of course, now I’m older and wiser and never make those mistakes. Just ask my supervisors 🙂

    Anyway, back to the marking. Then end of this lot of esays is in sight – test marking to come.

  4. Tim

    On the encouraging but firm thing, I try to ask myself “What is the easiest thing this student could have done to get a better grade?” then I tell them…

  5. Gene

    I wonder what students whose essays you are marking might make of comments such as these posted for the whole world to read?

%d bloggers like this: