I don’t think I am particularly harsh. On the contrary, I feel a great and benevolent responsibility toward you. I want you to do well. And you don’t need me to bolster your self-esteem ― this is nonsense.
All you have to do to get the ‘emotional support’ you say (but do not mean) that you want, is to rush to your iphone and tweet away. In an instant you will get a sufficient number of indignant and ignorant little digitisms from your friends in response to my insensitivity, in order to restore your self-regard.
I am not interested in how you feel about my remarks. I am interested in how you think. And write. You will get praise when you deserve it.
It was a poor essay and all the kind remarks and telling you ‘all the things you did right’ (not much) is not going to change that. Rewarding poor performance encourages it ― a fact reinforced early in my undergraduate life, the day our marked essays (for 17th Century Poetry and Prose) were due.
My iconic and revered professor (a former student of FR Leavis at Cambridge) walked into the classroom with a great sheaf of essays from which he meticulously extracted three that he placed ominously on the desk. He said, ‘I evaluated your essays and have given each of them what they deserve.’ He then dumped the entire pile of essays into the wastepaper basket and left the room. No one moved.
Several minutes passed in silence and when he did not come back, the entire class (about 36 of us) almost tiptoeing (for what reason it is hard to say) and still in complete silence, went to the wastepaper basket to retrieve what Professor Terry would certainly not have called essays.
I am pleased now, though I was too numb to be pleased at the time, to say that mine was not among them. It was one of the three on the desk. But I got the message as clearly and as chillingly as everyone else.
Do the essay again.
~ excerpt from Felicity & Barbara Pym, by Harrison Solow @2010 Cinnamon Press
Causes Harrison Solow Supports
Lupus Foundation of America
Museum of Tolerance