Learning and Writing vs. Writing for the Instructor

There are always a few students in a class who are more concerned with writing for the instructor, than with writing something that they are keenly interested in or perhaps even believe. I feel a slight sense of frustration when I hear that they “just want a good grade.” This is a common lament among educators, so what do we do? Since the majority of the courses that I teach focus on gender, the students know that I am a feminist and hold feminist issues near and dear to my heart. Due to this, some of them sense that this bias is somehow more insidious than my Marxist’s colleagues beliefs.

What do I do? I tend to play devil’s advocate lots during lecture and try to push the students. Sometimes, gasp, I’ll even say things that I don’t necessarily believe, but I might want to instigate some discussion among the students. I hope that they leave the class with a better understanding of the concepts, yes. But, more so, I want them to leave better critical thinkers. And, this means that they don’t have to agree with me. Hopefully, some of the students working on their papers will read this and augment their papers accordingly. Don’t write for me. Write the for the argument–write the paper.