April 9, 2007

A war against the empty thesis statement

To The Little Professor, who complains about student papers with the thesis statement declaring "many similarities and differences," I say, I will join with you in this battle. In fact, I think I've been there all along, but I just didn't know where the chain of command was.  Lead on!

My students don't usually declare the existence of "many similarities and differences." My students are far more creative when they write empty thesis statements, finding their own, unique ways of listing topics rather than summarizing an argument. (Sometimes they list to the right, sometimes to the left, ...) I've never thought of writing "Arrrgggh!" in the margins, and that's an interesting idea, though it does bring to mind the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The professor says I have a thesis of ... Arrrgggh!

A thesis of arrrgggh? That sounds like an expletive.

I think it's a note of frustration.  Arrrgggh!

Ooooooohhhhh!

No, not "Ooohhh." "Arrrgggh!"  Frustration.

No, not an "Arrrgggh!" of frustration, but "Ooohhh," as in surprise and alarm.

[they all turn around]

[in unison] Oooooohhhhh!

[The Great Beast of Vapid Writing launches itself at the hapless students, swallowing up their grades.]

And now, to a bit of reading of student work, followed by the judging of undergraduate research posters. After a head-cold-filled weekend, I'm on the market for new nasal passages. Unfortunately, despite rumors to the contrary, it appears that there are not any available at the moment on eBay.

Listen to this article
Posted in Teaching on April 9, 2007 5:56 AM |