I Had essays to write

I had essays to write. This is the key reason why I currently write.

Let me explain.

I was one of the quietest students in English composition class during the 2nd semester at college over 30 years ago. Whenever the professor discussed any literature that we were to have read the night before, she anticipated total participation from everyone in class. I really wasn't a classroom livewire, and usually kept to myself. I remember Mrs. McConnell (who I will call her in this article), discussing many different short stories that we were asked to read, but I never volunteered in these dialogues. (Not even one time).

The grade for the class would be derived from two term papers that were assigned to us. She asked us to choose from several essay examples. I remember one of the examples being an argumentative essay. Now, even though I wouldn't take part in class opinion sessions, I had many ideas for argumentative essays to write. After intense analysis and thought, I chose a topic that was dear to my heart. I would write an essay about the educational process in the United States at that time. My thoughts were that we attended school and college for nothing more than a social outlet. I argued that the courses we were required to take had nothing at all to do with our future success in whatever field we chose. I actually rambled on for 10 pages or so, but made some very good points along the way. I asked several friends and my parents to read the essay arguments and give their honest opinions. Everybody agreed it was a masterpiece! Of course I was stunned when my parents gave me their reviews, especially since I was using the educational system as a punching bag.

My mind was made up. I handed in the essay to Mrs. McConnell and several days later received the red "F" as a grade. I was stunned! How could this essay have been that bad? Next to the "F" was the comment "Where is the source material?". When I talked to Mrs. McConnell after class she explained to me that someone as reserved and quiet as myself could not have written such a colorful essay without copying it from a book somewhere. I had a rather intense argument with her and finally convinced her that it was original, and I used no source material whatsoever. She changed the grade to an "A". Well that temporarily boosted my ego quite a bit. I didn't think that I would win that debate.

Several weeks ran by and we were asked to write a final term paper essay on our plans after we graduated. After the grade from my midterm essay, I now thought that I must be on the same level as Hemingway, so I decided to really jazz up a piece about owning a racehorse and running him in the Kentucky Derby, while chasing after the dream of becoming a professional baseball player. I do admit I got a bit carried away, however this essay was met by stronger approval from my parents and peers, so I handed it in. DejaVu! Mrs. McConnell wrote two paragraphs in red ink, insisting that I once again must have plagiarized this piece. Well, this essay went straight to the Dean's office where I stated my defense. The Dean was not in total agreement with me, but felt that I was arguing from my heart, and raised the grade to a "C". I couldn't believe that these highly qualified employees of a college were such idiots! By the way, this essay became partially true. In my lifetime I did own several thoroughbred racehorses but they never raced in the Kentucky Derby. I also played college and minor league level baseball, but never got the chance to play in the "show".

Ever since those experiences of essays to write, I was determined to someday prove Mrs. McConnell and the Dean wrong. I also know, In my heart, that I did not plagiarize the two essays, and there might be a touch of writing talent within somewhere (Hopefully, LOL). This is why I write.

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Comments 3 comments

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States

Thank you very much for answering my request. I also found an outlet in writing while in school. You write well!


Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

"Mrs. McConnell" was worried that she might be giving good grades to someone who had cheated. It's frustrating (I taught Composition and Literature for many years). However, I always expected great things from the quiet students who said little in class (unless they were obviously asleep!) -- I was a quiet student myself. I received some of the most interesting papers from the quiet kids; I let them all develop their own topics for papers, so that they could find (hopefully) something they were really interested in to discuss. It was rewarding!

However, there were occasions when someone clearly plagiarized, and that was sad; it meant hours of work with the Honor Court and failure for the student. I learned to be a quick "read" of students (to tell who was capable of being harried or pressured into saving time by cheating); once, when I was a grad assistant working on finishing my Ph. D., I wrongly accused a student of cheating. I was delighted when she showed me her research and drafts -- I was, in fact, glad to have been wrong. But I felt awful about accusing her. It stayed with me, and always acted as a reminder to give students the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure that means some kids got away with not doing the work themselves, but it boils down to this: what you get out of any class you take depends directly on what you are prepared to put into it. If a kid plagiarized a paper, she was cheating herself, not me. She was not allowing herself the opportunity to grow in her writing.

I hope you don't harbor any real resentment about your experience in that class: after all, you know you did the work, and you know its worth. While your professor and dean were mistaken, they were really actually guilty of not trying to get to know you. That can be difficult, in larger classes, but should be possible in smaller sections. I hope you continue to write and grow and enjoy your writing; HubPages is a great venue for that.


hglick profile image

hglick 7 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY Author

Teresa, Thank you for your comment from a professor's perspective.

It has been many many years since the incident, and of course I harbor no resentment today towards the professor or dean. Over the years I came to understand their side of the issue.

However, At that time and for several months later I ridiculed the school for it's lack of support in my case and felt hurt.

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