By Christopher Kellermeyer
By Christopher Kellermeyer
It’s common knowledge that, unlike other disciplines, the grading system for English composition is veiled in a shroud of uncertainty, and completely relative to the agenda of an instructor.
Professors may attempt to be as objective as possible when reading an essay, but inherently, writing is meant to rouse a reader in some fashion. Aristotle and Lao Tzu are not even exempt from passion and emotion; ice cold logic is, basically, illogical.
One may think they are objective, yet under the surface of the conscious-in the deepest layers of the mind-passion is stirring, mixing, burning, and eliciting a response from each fragment of input. It makes us human. Therefore, it is inevitable that subjective judgment will be passed. So let’s consider what can be done about this subjectivity and make the grading system more even handed for all students, no matter the content of their works.
One folly is the hiring criteria for instructors of English composition and related courses. It fails to weed out professors who have Christian or other religious upbringings that may, because of the internal mechanisms and moral fiber of some religions, cause one to condemn required techniques to be an effective writer.
One example is the art of effective argumentation. Effective argumentation essentially requires a reader to question outward from a topic for counter argument, but also requires one to internally scan for validity in what one is thinking and producing. It is crucial to delve into the foundations of morals and other taboo topics that may defy conventional morality. Thus, the art of composition propagates reasoning that is likely to take a stab at morality and religious beliefs.
Hypothetically, if a professor-brought up in a Christian environment-was evaluating a well produced piece from a student who was an Existentialist or Satanist, that professor would be violating the moral code they had been spoon fed since birth by giving a decent grade; most denominations of Christianity condemn questioning the existence of God and the moral principles outlined in the Bible.
Unconsciously, the professor would give great work a poor grade because the professor is feeling they are giving a stamp of approval for evil. Therefore, those who follow uncommon paths are at a disadvantage to those on the band wagon.
Perhaps the professor could continuously condone unholy compositions and on a regular basis repent for it, but that veers from the righteousness religious texts dictate to the followers.
But what can be done? Using religious criteria during the hiring process is unconstitutional, and it is difficult, maybe impossible, to prove beyond all doubt that a religion will cause this effect; religious texts are often loosely interpreted.
Alas, even if this form of screening were implemented, everyone would lie to get the jobs and later repent. It’s a true paradox, but there is a plausible solution. If we were to alter the grading system to a pass or fail, A or F, the situation would be alleviated. An A grade would indicate growth, and a student could then proceed to the next level.
The current grading system for composition type courses attempts to layer people, but proves and accomplishes nothing; the true testament of one’s writing skill usually comes long after secondary education.