Posted by: gdevi | May 2, 2011

Songs for Grading

If you are in the ed biz like me, you must be surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of exams, essays, quizzes  et al ad infinitum. If you are like me, you must be looking at this paper ( and e-mail) deluge and asking yourself, what have I done? Am I out of my mind? Plus students you have not seen for the last 14 weeks must be coming to you now asking “what can I do now to pass the course”?  If you feel that your head is going to explode, then you are not alone. Here are some songs you can listen to that will put it all in perspective.

1. “And you may ask yourself, how do I work this? (alternately,  “how did I get here? Or “same as it ever was”. I nominate this song to be the theme song for higher education.)

You may ask yourself, am I right or am I wrong?

You may say to yourself, my God, what have I done”?  (Yes yes yes yes!)

2. How I got over

How I got over

You know my soul look back and wonder

How I made it over

3. Let me be by myself in the evening breeze

Listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees

Gaze at the moon until I lose my senses

I can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences

Don’t fence me in

4. Hey you skinny space man

Can’t you see that I’m on the lam

Come on, you flying saucer

Make me an offer

I’ll book the flight

The time is right

5. Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us above us only sky

Imagine all the people living life in peace

Smart Aleck update:

Question: “What are any two specific textual details from Lu Xun’s Diary of a Madman that contribute to our reading of the writer of the diary as an unstable narrator?”

Answer: 1. The whole story. 2. All the details in it.

Hey, I want to give you 3 points for the sheer smart-aleckness of your response!

Nostalgia update: You know I am sitting here grading–listening to YouTube songs too— while my world lit students are taking their final exam and I look at these kids and my heart just fills with such love for them. They are all rapt in the exam, giving it their best effort, they have been studying all semester for this. I can see how they feel; they look at the question sheet and they are saying, yep, I know this, I know this, I know this.  There is nothing that makes me as happy as seeing my students give me a good exam.  Temperamentally I don’t like giving exams, but it is an occupational hazard and I have to do it for assessment and all that stuff.  I especially like my world lit exams–these kids read so many things that most of them have never read before, and it is wonderful and humbling at the same time to see how they have understood these men and women from around the world who write about such different and disparate things. Every semester, there are hits and misses from the readings.  This year’s hits are the Egyptian love poems, Rumi (big fan base!), Flaubert, Kafka (big fan base!), Cortazar (big fan base!), Lu Xun (big fan base!), Mahfouz (big fan base!), Borges (difficult, but those who understood him really understood him), Kazantzakis. I was like this when I was their age: to me reading literature was like the George Harrison song Cream Tangerine Montelimar (funny story, my friends the Beards once they were traveling in France and they brought me back a Montelimar bar; I still have the wrapper here somewhere, and I don’t have a sweet tooth at all! What a great nougat though! ) — it was like eating sweets all day long, it was like an endless bottomless box of sweets! From all over the world! The University Library, the Public Library, the British Council Library, the Alliance Francaise, Max Mueller Bhavan, the American Studies Research Center, the House of Soviet Culture . . . all the places that nurtured my reading habit! When I look at these young boys and girls, I see myself; it is very sweet. I so wanted to show them the Greek movie Rembetiko because the last thing we read was Kazantzakis and Zorba the Greek. But they wanted to see Jafar Panahi’s Offside, which is equally good. What a beautiful thing it is to be able to read and derive happiness from it!

Here is something from a student about Rumi; I had asked them to pick any text they read this semester and write about why it is considered a representative text of world literature. This student selected Rumi.

“In his poetry, Rumi outlines the basic tenets of Sufi thought. His devotional verses allow the common reader a glimpse into Rumi’s way of life. The reader can easily feel Rumi’s passion for his faith and the poems also highlight societal aspects from Rumi’s time as well. By doing so Rumi allows his reader to leave the norm of western writing styles and thoughts and see the often unseen life of a Sufi mystic and a true dimension of Middle Eastern culture. It is Rumi’s devotional pieces that allow this cultural gap to be filled. While reading Rumi one begins to desire the same union, the same hunger for knowledge that Rumi writes about.”

Beautiful, isn’t it?

p.s. Admittedly this has been a long day, and my eyesight is not the best even with my newer glasses, but I am either seeing something mystical or this is a very cleverly crumpled white plastic grocery bag. On the sloping hill that leads up to the residence halls across my office window there is a beautiful white swan sitting there without moving for the last twenty minutes. It was not there this afternoon; I just came back after my final exam and find this beautiful bird just sitting there. I tried to catch its attention but it is not moving at all; I don’t think it can hear me from here through these double-hung windows. It would be hard for me to go to the hillside and take a look at it up close and personal. We have to check it out tomorrow, Nic, when you are here.

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