Weird Little Kids
(an AP scoring report)

originally written 15:15 CST, 18 June 2007

Ninety percent of the time, I don't mind flying. Ten percent of the time, however, I genuinely despite it and spend hours dreaming of a coast-to-coast, high-speed rail network, like British Rail on crack. The reason for this is simple: as I write this—by hand, since network time is expensive—I am on hour six of what should have been a two-hour layover and, as of this morning, still was. However right as we got on the bus at six (EST), we discovered that the 10:40 flight to DFW had been inexplicably canceled. Cue frantic attempts to reschedule, a hassle-up at TSA scanning which cost me half a bottle each of shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste as well as a Leatherman I'd had since high school, and a literal run to the terminal to get on at the last second. As I say, I've been in DFW since 10:00 local time, which means, considering I woke up at 3:00 EST this morning, that I've been up for fourteen hours. Currently I ache in strange places, like the bottom of my feet or the inside of my biceps, and I'm starting to feel a bit like a Donestre, and may in fact eat someone and weep over their head if I don't get to sleep on the plane. [1]

However, this comes at the end of an otherwise wonderful week. Amalie and David sold it well: you do a lot of what amounts to grindingly repetitive though mildly amusing work, and then you're on the beach or in the bar by five. The food is institutional yet plentiful—like "gluttony popcorn," it didn't taste good but there was plenty of it. [2] Most of the people are great (hello to Shirl Chumley, Grimsley Graham, Joan Snyder, and the lovely Melissa Vosen), and the few who aren't are easily avoided.

I think I'm allowed to talk about the questions now that the scoring is over, but I'll be circumspect anyway. Before I go on, let me say that it's highly likely that everything between the next sentence and the three # signs is the property of Educational Testing Services; I believe, however, that posting these anonymously and without any personal gain other than a good laugh is fair use, but if it isn't, contact me and I'll be glad to remove any offending material.
That said, I was assigned to question 3, which asked students to take a position on the ethics of offering incentives for charitable donations, such as bonus points in class for donations. Most of the kids were okay, but some were strange. . .
  • Charity is something that is always willing to take the extra change off your hands, is willing to have you come over and fix that hole in the wall free of charge, and would love to sit and talk about how many touchdowns you scored, back in the day.
  • If (hypothetically) there were two objects teetering equally balanced on a mountain, one is a suitcase full of money, the other is an infant, which would you grab?
  • Although in the twenty-first century we may claim to be sophisticated, we are no better than our ancestral thieves.
  • If children are engaging in this sort of sacrifice for an A+, I personally fail to see how this is less degrading or dehumanizing than a young woman exploiting her body for a better grade.
  • On the surface the group opposed to this exchange may be more attractive, more magnetic to your north and south poles. But before you go welcoming in Santa Claus, make sure it's not a wolf in gramma's clothes.
  • At my school, one of the clubs required its members to sell two bags of onions for a charity or they would not be allowed to return next year. (Frankly, anything that gets you out of the Soviet Poland club is probably a good idea. -- ed)
  • More often than not, moms and dads resort to a trail of stickers that leads to a prize. I remember sitting on the toilet for hours to get a tic-tac. Well, two if it was number two.
. . . while others were just confused. . .
  • I was thought [sic] that if you do it out of your own will, with the goodness of your heart, you don't need a reward because the reward was the goodness you inflicted [sic].
  • As I started applying to colleges, I milked the Darfur cow until I was accepted.
  • It is a dark and dreary night. (opening sentence)
  • Not everyone is going to be as kindhearted or generous as Boo Radley or the woman at the county fair.
  • Ethics is a simple but yet [sic] complicated thing. It has so many sides to it's [sic] coin. Ethics is a world wide thing. Some if not most people say ethics just disturbs the natural order of things. I guess I'm just one of those such people. Ethics just bother me.
. . . while still others were filled with useful knowledge. . .
  • Humans are regretfully greedy.
  • Incentives for charity began when people figured out that people are human, and humans are not "selfless" (generally speaking).
  • George Washington risked his life at war, lived among the other soldiers, and defeated the enemy. Benjamin Franklin sat on [sic] a room for hours, in order to develop the Bill of Rights.
  • Charity has changed from its humble beginnings as a beggar on the street.
  • There are many all over the world who are in need. There are also those who are well-endowed and need no help at all.
  • The ethics of this or any debate can rage on for decades.
Also, I'm to pass along this: "I ♥ Mr. McBride. Y'all should give him a raise." Lucky you, Mr. McBride.

I scored 1087 essays or 0.38% of the total number of essays. Of that, 14 students used the word "donator" instead of "donor,"[3] four opened by comparing charity to love (a correct assertion, etymologically speaking) five suggested by name classical or operant conditioning, four suggested the moral position of "tzedakah" (two of them effectively), seven mentioned pride and Prejudice, four mentioned Clueless, another four mentioned the episode of Friends in which Phoebe tries to do a charitable act without getting something in return, seven believed andrew Carnegie "invented charity," and five confessed to being Eagle Scouts (two confessed to having gotten their Girl Guides Gold Awards, though not in the same essay as the Eagle Scouts).

# # #

Anyway, that's my AP scoring report. I'm about halfway through Arab Historians of the Crusades, and will finish it just as soon as I have a brain again. I've also been tapped to teach ENGL 2303, Survey of English Literature to the 17th Century, in Summer II, instead of WLIT 1113. I hope to get the book tomorrow or Thursday and have all that planned out.

More as it develops. Today will be spent doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, shopping, and watching some Doctor Who.
[1] As it happened, no-one had the seat next to me, and I had a nice and restful flight until we got ready to deplane and discovered the jetway was broken, and we had to be towed to another gate. I nearly cried.
[2] This refers to a story I've now lost track of, originally published in Fantasy and Science Fiction sometime in the nineties, concerning a young Jesus who tries out for little league. Anyone who can find that story gets a bribe.
[3] I'm not sure this is a real word, but if it were, it would by etymology mean "someone who has been given as a gift."


Anonymous said...

Hi there, I know this is a little late but what would the essay which scored a 7 or 8 have included?? What types of evidence, did they use??

Jacob said...

At this point, I don't recall, but I am told that the old scoring guides are posted on the AP website, so you might poke around there.