Writers who come with it

This morning I read a few essays written by my Freshman Composition I students.  The essays were submitted after the deadline, and as I suspect many college instructors are wont to do, I began reading with the mindset that these students did not respect the assignment nor their grade enough to complete the work on time.  Apparently, I still have a thing or two to learn.  The (late) work of these student writers humbled me, inspired me, and showed me that many students–perhaps students we instructors may believe do not engage with our courses–still “come with it.”  They might be sloppy with time management, maybe downright slackers–but man, they can write!

In one of his books, James M. Lang, a writer and professor at Assumption College, challenges teachers to “complicate” their views on late work.  He does not propose a right way or wrong way, but wants us to consider that loosening up about late work may allow students that smidgen of time they want to produce a paper we would actually want to read.


Well, my syllabus still states that I don’t accept late work, but I have included a statement about reserving the right to award reduced credit for extreme circumstances.  I can reward late brilliance from time to time.




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