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West of Bathurst, by Kari Maaren

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Barbara Versus the Undergrads

Over the years, I have noticed that the most sought-after WoB comics are those dealing with Barbara's TAships (and, later, her instructorships).  There are now enough of these comics that I can justify collecting them on a separate page.  This page is for you, run-down TAs, instructors, teachers, and markers of the world.  This page encompasses the frustration, despair, and helpless rage that can be associated with marking the work of university undergrads.

Any students who stumble across this page and decide to be offended should note that teaching definitely has a lot of good bits as well; they just don't make very funny comics.


Saturday, December 2, 2006
 
Bet you anything 90% of you like Barbara better now.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

If any of my current students are reading this, they should know that I am NOT referring to them (truly)...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Yeah.  So Gandalf had it easy.  Trust me.  Balrog...psshht.  Piece of cake.  WE'RE TALKING ABOUT UNDERGRADUATE ESSAY-WRITING HERE, MAN!......*sob*......

Saturday, November 17, 2007

There is a special hell for plagiarists, and the name of that hell is KARI.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Many a hero has set out to slay the fabled Pile of Essays.  Many a hero has failed.

Saturday, July 26, 2008
 
And then I described in detail how I would make coats of their skin and feed their internal organs to lions.

Saturday, November 29, 2008
 
Marking is nature's own brain tranquiliser.

Saturday, March 21, 2009
 
Imagine what happens to your brain when you read THREE SUCH ESSAYS IN A ROW.

Saturday, July 25, 2009
 
I have had students in tears over their B+s or even A-s.  Okay, fine, I probably would have been the same way...but when half the class could be described generously as "writing at a 'C' level," it begins to seem a little silly.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

When I am marking, I sometimes yell at the papers rather loudly.  This can be a problem when I'm marking in public.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Those who think I am exaggerating the terrible spelling should note that I am actually toning it down.  I have read essays by students who are clearly sounding out every word phonetically (feneticly) in their heads.  "Writting" is a very common misspelling of "writing" amongst the undergrads of the world.

Saturday, July 24, 2010
 
A great mystery of university teaching is as follows:  students will panic if you don't answer their e-mails within an hour but become indignant if you have only posted the due dates in three separate places on the course website and e-mailed them a mere six reminders.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

One of the profs in my department has made up a batch of "So what?" buttons and distributed them to his students.  I think he should market them online; every English prof in the world would buy a batch.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I've certainly had essays done in pink ink ("My computer ran out of black") before.  I've also had papers on coloured paper.  Mercifully, I've never seen a combination of the two.  Yet.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

It is amazing how very, very vague an essay about a specific aspect of a specific text can get.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

When these conversation happen via e-mail, they can continue for DAYS.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Again, not an exaggeration.  I did kids'-lit titles because that's what Barbara's teaching right now, but I've seen so many essays on _The Shinning_, _The Hounds of Baskerville_, "The Cast of Amontillado," and "The House of the Ushers" that sometimes I begin to wonder if *I'm* the one who's been getting them wrong.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A couple of days ago, I counted the number of errors in a single sentence of a paper I was marking.  There were eight.  *Sob*

Saturday, November 24, 2012

This is actually something I do all the time.  The more often a particular error appears in an essay, the more annoyed I get, almost as if I expect the student to be able to correct the text after I catch the first mistake.  I do the same thing if multiple students make an error; I get mad at the later ones because they haven't paid attention to the corrections I've just made on other students' papers.

Saturday, April 13, 2013



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sometimes, the apostrophes just become too much, and something has to give.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

To tell the absolute truth, I prefer the papers that go insanely under the limit over the papers that go insanely over the limit, simply because the former take less time to mark.

As Tiny Tim might say:  happy marking...and God help us, every one!*

*Dickens really does spell "everyone" like that.  Go check.  Cite your sources.

Comics copyright Kari Maaren 2006-2011