Here's the deal.
Every semester I get a bunch of new students. My job is to train them to be good researchers and writers. Around this time every semester, I grade their "big" projects, and I'm usually very, very frustrated. Here's what I'm thinking: Why didn't they do the reading? Why didn't they follow the basic instructions on the assignment sheet?
Why was I so naive to think they would do the reading or follow the basic instructions on the assignment sheet?
By the end of the semester, they somehow get it together, but inevitably, in early November, I hit this nadir of grading doom.
And next semester, I get to do it all over again. When I think about that, I start to freak out.
I think I'm doing something wrong.
Here's a metaphor:
Imagine knitting a complicated lace scarf, with impossible-to-memorize charts, teeny-weeny needles, and spider-web yarn. You have your face buried in the pattern and close to your tiny needles, and it seems that the fabric that is coming off the needles way too slowly.
Then, imagine that someone rips out the whole scarf and you have to start over again.
Now imagine that this happens every four months for your entire career.
That's what grading papers feels like to me. At least it does today.
Boy am I in a bad mood.