Second Opinions………

I have been doing a lot of thinking about this for school, but it applies to work projects too in general. I don’t think we should have one superior in academia grading our papers, whose grades directly affect our careers. Too many times in a classroom, we don’t write or speak freely, because we know we are not in concurment with the professor and don’t want to risk our good standing. So a lot of us do it; we ass kiss to get along with the professor we have. We write for their thoughts and opinions instead of own.

It is easy to lay blame on this inauthentic dynamic on the student, who should be writing what they say and feel. However, everybody plays down grades, and every professor lets you know you are at their mercy. Especially in the humanities where there is so much room for discussion or debate. I prefer the hard science classes, where you can actually despise your teacher, they can be aware of it, and you still get your deserved grade. Why should one professor have the last say on my paper or essay for Comp class? At least two very different professors should work in teams, and grade collaboratively. I think I am on to something that might change the course of how professors flex their muscle. They always pick out their favorites, and it isn’t the ones at the top of the class. For the top students challenge professors the most.  Most professors are not broad shouldered to take it in stride, instead you are encroaching on their intellectual space.

I had a situation last fall in English comp class. I love writing it isn’t my gift, but my passion no doubt, and I had a final research paper due for the end of the term. The prompt from the professor was to try to tell a story within the structure of a research paper. I struggled with this, and was given the choice (wink wink) to write up a straight research paper, which our professor prefaced by saying was really boring writing. I wanted to stand up and say you haven’t read my paper yet, but her mind was made up, so I went with her suggestion to write a story within a research paper.

Deadlines for professor drafts were missed due to the professor having a family emergency. So in the end, we all lost out on time to rewrite our edited papers. I felt that I finally got my paper to a place, where I could work on it. The professor got it back to me late and the semester was ending so I had no chance except for an extension. I went through the proper channels and requested an incomplete I would finish in just a couple of weeks. I met with my professor and was eager for feedback but something was not right about us. She agreed to the incomplete, although she felt my paper was in good enough shape to get me an A.  I knew for me, I needed to rip it apart in some major places.

So after I met with the professor, and got the sign off on the incomplete. I brought it to the requisite office. It was a Tuesday and the semester ended Friday so my paperwork was turned in with plenty of time. Grades closed on Friday and over the weekend I worked feverishly on my paper I was starting to get excited about. I had a good story in this research paper. The next week grades were due and I got an email on the slimy side from this professor I had once cared about, saying the English department head had turned down my request for incomplete. My professor just flatly gave me an A. I pushed her buttons on many levels, but getting that A, for a paper that wasn’t even finished or read, left me feeling pretty hollow, and mistreated and let down by this professor. I paid for the class, and did not get the review of my work I deserved. Her point she was making, well I only wanted an A, so she gave it to me, and of course it meant nothing to me at all.

This often happens in the workplace too, when our work is reviewed by just one person who makes decisions on our performance. Elementary schools and some middle and high schools had turned to the “team” approach. It is much more fair to the students and the employees, who have trouble with particular superiors. We are all people and we are all not going to get along or like one another. It shouldn’t matter if you professor doesn’t like you, its your work not you that is supposed to be graded. This same English professor admitted openly to having her favorites and the kids she really didn’t like. I am not saying it affected her grading, but think about it how could it not influence her opinions of work done by kids she didn’t care for?

So second opinions started with medicine, and moved out in to other parts of the world. People now get 4-5 estimates for jobs they need done, or automotive work it is the same. We are all comparison shoppers, but that is not my point, I believe there should be a paradigm established for review of a students work by a team, as well as built in safety guards in the workplace, so if you have a shitty boss you wont stay there and rot.

Power in the hands of just one person, either in school or the workplace is not very settling to me at all. I am going to suggest a change in the grading requirements of the school. I know right now when  a student has a problem with a grade it goes to the chairperson. The chairperson, come on, of course they are going to back the professor. I would like to see the school detail the number of challenged grades, and what really happened in the end. Sure there is a system and its flawed, it called cronyism, at its worst.


The basis of all this, power and ownership is part of insecure professors and bosses who don’t want you to succeed as they too struggle in their own universe to make it and climb the ladders they so aspire.