The Tardy Perfectionist

I just left class with a smile on my face.  A student made the decision to turn a paper in late and take a grade deduction.  She noted that she preferred to turn in late work of excellent quality than to turn in work that is on time but has some errors.

While we professor-types cringe at late papers.  A late paper in a writing workshop paired for single-editor-peer-review results in one student sitting alone in the corner, absent a paper to review, looking bored.  This student did her work.  She dutifully read and reviewed the work of a classmate, scribbled notes in the margin, both prescriptive and descriptive, fixed the wayward comma, slashed the adverbs.  But here the student sits, with no one to review her work, as the other student is “still-really-struggling-with-this-can-I-please-get-an-extension?”

Worse still, I feel as if I need to entertain the student who completed the work on time and is left bereft of a paper to review.  I try to engage in good-natured conversation. “Hey, I see that your peer review is complete.  What do you want to talk about?  I see you are reading Foucault. How about his work on Kant, huh?  Good stuff!”

The awkwardness of missing a peer session aside, the deduction in grade, the often misplaced paper as it is not turned in with the others, all these are a drag, but…

Here’s a secret.

I also respect the student who refuses to turn in sub-par work.  The student must learn that there are deadlines, hence the deduction in grade, but the student is also learning that she is willing to take the hit if it means that the final product will be excellent, error-free work.

Did I say I left the classroom smiling?

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