I am a professor of history. I live, eat, drink, and breathe my profession. I see it as a calling from God. He provided His Word and the principles from His Word to guide me into my thinking about history, government, culture, and anything associated with those subjects.
I love teaching. I love reading/researching. I’ve even learned to love writing, which is the hardest of those loves to carry out effectively. Yet the love of God and His truths is what inspires me to do them all.
There’s one aspect of the calling He’s given me that’s not as easy to love as the others: grading.
Wouldn’t it be easier just to interact with students and enjoy the learning that takes place without all of the time-consuming grading? Yes, that would be nice. But it wouldn’t work.
I know from experience that even some of the best students won’t read the books assigned unless there is some kind of evaluation that follows afterward. Love of learning purely for the love of learning resides in the hearts of the few, not the many.
For instance, when I first taught a Civil War class to a group of history majors, I set it up in such a way that one of the students would be responsible each class session for making a presentation about the reading assignment while another had to come up with questions about the reading for the class to discuss.
My assumption was that, since they were history majors and ostensibly in the class because they wanted to learn about the Civil War, that they would eagerly read and discuss. What I found instead is that only two of the students were prepared for each class session: the one given the task to make the presentation and the one chosen to come up with questions.
The rest of the students were ignorant of the facts that were to be part of the discussion because they hadn’t read the assigned pages. After all, they didn’t have to make a presentation or come up with questions.
Needless to say, I don’t conduct my classes in that way anymore.
That’s why we must give assignments. That’s why we must grade those assignments. It’s a matter of accountability and a way to teach personal responsibility. Most won’t learn much of anything without those assignments.
Those assignments don’t teach students only; they also teach me personal responsibility. As much as I don’t like being bogged down by grading, the Lord keeps nudging me about why I must do that. It not only holds students accountable and makes them better people—it does the same for me.
So, as I enter this final month of the semester, I will try to keep that in mind. God wants me to do the best for my students by offering honest evaluations of their work and helping them to improve their thinking and writing.
He also wants me to improve my attitude toward all that grading; He’s using it to make me more like Him.
Chip away at my rough edges, Lord. Although I may not always enjoy the time I spend grading, I know I need You to continue to shape me more into the image of Christ.