Friday, April 22, 2011

Stating the Obvious

It is very difficult to get students to stop peppering their essays with all kinds of trivial observations. No matter how many times I ask them to stop stating the obvious, I still get essays that start with "In this course, we have read many different works of literature." Since I taught the course, it is self-evident that I'm very aware of this Earth-shattering piece of news.

"Cervantes is a writer from Spain" is an equally obnoxious piece of wisdom that students try to share with me on a regular basis. Really? No shit. And here I was, thinking he is a German painter. Thanks a lot for clearing that up.

Another annoying kind of statement (and the one that students absolutely love to regale me with) is "Don Quijote and "Vino, primero, pura" have many differences." Given that one is a novel from the XVIIth century and another one a poem from the XXth, I'd say it's a safe bet they have differences.

There are also platitudes that make me cringe because of their sheer inanity. "Everybody wants to be happy" and "People often make mistakes" are good examples of such vapid generalizations. I asked the students specifically to go over the essay and delete all sentences that mention everybody, people, and humanity at large.

And then there are offensive commonplaces of the "Spanish culture is very romantic" variety which make me question if students have heard anything I've been saying in class.

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