Grading papers as a form of lovemaking

grading-1aIt is not difficult to imagine a world in which not a few teachers will be seduced by the kind of software that edX is making available. But it is inevitable, is it not, that such seductive invitations, if taken up, will be met with a massive anti-climax and a certain increase in academic sterility. More tragically, however, it would mean a decline in the frequency and joy of teachers making love. For grading papers, like indexing a book or replying to students’ emails, is an act of love-making – love for our students, love for attempts at meaning making, love for the pains that inevitably accompany an inquiring mind, love for the subject and for those whose labours have made ours possible, love for the task of teaching itself, et cetera. And as with all other forms of love making, one is, to be sure, not always ‘in the mood’, and it can be simply exhausting and largely unsatisfying in and of itself. It is certainly a form of judgement. Even so, it is incumbent upon we who teach – the incumbency of the kind of freedom that only love can bring – to strive to improve our love-making skills (it’s why some of us try to keep up with our Greek, for example) rather than subcontracting such responsibilities out to third parties, gadgetries and gimics. Thank God for good tools – that is, tools which assist our efforts to love – but when tools reign over, replace, or even become an extension of the lover themselves, we have ceased to love, and so God help us all.

ch901101

Speaking of love making, if all goes to plan the next post here at Per Crucem ad Lucem will be a sermon on two texts from the Song of Songs.

3 thoughts on “Grading papers as a form of lovemaking

  1. Every analogy has its shortcomings. This one is no exception. However, all loving is at points characterised by power imbalances. We ought not shrink from this fact. Such power, however, is never the source of, and never leads to, abuse. The manner of power I am envisaging here is kenotic in shape.

    Declare the ‘crush’? Absolutely – that’s when the teaching really begins! (BTW. Have you ever read George Steiner’s ‘Lessons of the Masters?’) How one offers such declaration, however, is the real question. Here there is no one answer, but love finds a way of, and a time for, doing so.

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