Grading exams: a work of the light, or a work of darkness?

A word to my fellow-teachers:

It’s time to correct essays and exams. It tops the “Favorite Things to Do” list for very few people. I tell my students, “Don’t slide your paper in the bottom of the pile, because I’ll probably have an attitude by the time I work my way down to it.” I’m just glad I can pull it off in 3-4 hours this term.


Nevertheless, if we are teachers, then it is certain that GRADING is part of God’s call to us today. It is sacred work. It is priestly service. It is good.


11 thoughts on “Grading exams: a work of the light, or a work of darkness?

  1. I didn’t know you were a teacher. What subject? You’re highly intelligent , so I thought you might be a professor of sorts. Apologies for not getting back to you sooner by the way.

  2. I save the essays from my top students for last. I read them while sipping a glass of wine. It’s my reward.

    1. Actually, I do the opposite – I start with the ones that look good and let them “set the bar”, giving me a sense of how others could have done.

  3. Gary,

    Teachers need to strike a balance. I once had an exceptional professor who gave up teaching because he spent so much time grading papers (in an astonishingly detailed way) that he didn’t have time for his own research and writing. We would be better off if he was still in the classroom.

    On the other hand, it is a denigration of the student’s vocation to be a student to grade papers without giving any evidence of having read them [In my many years of college and graduate school I have received a few 15 page (or longer) papers back with nothing but a letter grade on them]. A few helpful comments can go a long way.

    “Teachable moment” has become a popular term in North America. Let me suggest that teacher’s definitely have their student’s attention when grading papers. Why not take advantage of this to build them up for the sake of the Kingdom of God?

    Best wishes,


      1. I have had to figure out the point of diminishing returns. My students write papers every other week. We have a 15 week semester, not counting exam week. If, by week 10 (4 essays written and returned, with extensive comments), the same students are making the same mistakes (both with respect to content and mechanics), I leave very brief comments. If students show improvement, I am happy to keep offering detailed suggestions for further improvement.

Comments are closed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: