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‘Working Like a Mule’, Bemoans Private English Tutor.

June 19, 2013
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Thoughts From The Corner

Working like a mule with my nose to the grindstone trying to earn a crust. Oh, woe is me, woe is me!

I guess we’ve all been there, doing a task we don’t want to do. You know, that long, dark tunnel with light at the end that is probably on oncoming train!

Now, I’m not one to moan 🙂 but if I can ask your forbearance for a couple of minutes. . .

I’m currently ploughing my way through several hundred English examination scripts. Yes, the same paper more than 300 times. All are marked online. In days of yore the postman used to struggle up the path with bulging packets of scripts. The pile would sit the corner (3 feet high?) and as the days progressed I would watch the pile slowly diminish – a satisfying feeling indeed.

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Private tutor in days of yore marking paper scripts

Today the marking is in front of a computer monitor.

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Smiling (!) tutor marks online today

Amazing how much dust would settle around the pile of paper scripts and leave its mark there over a four week period.

Private English tutor dons his Freddie Mercury outfit to clear dust after finishing marking

So picture the scene gentle reader. This private tutor sitting in front of the computer monitor, working through the aforementioned scripts. Tedious is perhaps an understatement. However, every job has its perks. With this one it’s the laughs I get. Oh yes, laughs. Every so often I come across a ‘howler’. Howlers are those mistakes that examination candidates make in their attempts to write as much as they can in the set time but do not write what they intend. For example:

‘She lay there semi-naked, semi-conscious, and semi-hopeful.’

Oh how I wish my papers were as exciting as that! That and all the others in this post plus many more beauties can be found at: http://bombay.indology.info/howlers.html

Other beauties include:

‘The octopus wrapped his testicles round the diver & strangled him.’

Talented octopus displays musical skills with his testicles.

‘Many protesters have tried Gandhi’s method of non-active activity.’

‘I am not prepared to sit down & be made a convenience of. Slowly the upper deck became occupied with travellers who wished to relieve themselves. Three middle-aged ladies with colourful hats presented themselves.’

And two for you English literature lovers:

‘Macbeth actually killed the King; but remember, behind every good man lies a woman.’

lady macbeth

Lady Macbeth gets behind her man!

The question is:

‘Discuss the style of Romeo and Juliet.’

Our eager English student answered:

‘It is written entirely in Islamic pentameter.’

Sorry but the howlers that I am coming across I cannot share because the scripts are still ‘live’.

At one of the script standardisation meetings, puffing and panting over papers, a lady teacher said to me:

‘Well, we don’t do it for the money, do we?’

As she paused I looked at her with incredulity and thought, ‘Well, I’m not here for my health’.

‘We do it for the knowledge and experience’, she continued.

Later I thought about what she had said and concluded that she was right. After all, if educators don’t understand the examination system, what is the point in doing what we do? Even private English tutors must see Education as more than just about the legal tender – even if that’s all the present British Government views it as. . .

We don’t do it for money – do we!

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10 Comments
  1. Islamic pentameter! Sounds rather interesting, if only there was such a thing (“this poem of the Rubaiyat is written in the Islamic pentameter”). This brings back my English lit and theory days!

  2. Love it ET – console yourself with just how much material these poor students are providing you with. And you’re right howlers and octopi are clearly the flavour of the week. Now I need to get changed I laughed so much!!!

  3. Good luck with all the marking. I’m sure you’ll take a great breather when it’s all over!

    • Thanks for taking time out to comment. A ‘breather’ would be nice but i’m itching to get back to the novel which is on hold for June.

  4. It sounds like a tough slog but I’m sure you’ll get through it.

  5. Oh, those howlers are fantastic! They absolutely had me howling with laughter. I can only hope you are getting at least a few that are as funny as the ones you listed in your blog. You deserve it for all the effort you’re putting into grading them.

    Your anecdote about your colleague who mentioned that you guys don’t do your job for the money reminded me of something that happened back when I was still slaving away in the salt mines of corporate USA. One day, a friend and I were traveling down the escalator toward the cafeteria. It had been a particularly grueling day, and I mentioned to my friend that the only thing keeping me showing up each day was the fact that this place paid me. Unbeknownst to me, my boss was on the escalator behind us. My friend knew this, so she replied, “Oh, I love my job. I would work here for free, I love it so much.” From behind her, I heard my boss’s voice as he said: “I wouldn’t. If I didn’t have a pay check, I would be out of here so fast …”

    Ah … fun times! 😀

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