Did you even read it?

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With my Fulbright application submitted (I was not recommended past stage one) and a less stressful job, I now have more free time for me things. I love that I have this free time and can use it to be creative and to do things that make me happy and don’t just add stress to my life.

I decided that since I have this free time, I would actually follow through with completing a course on either Coursera or EdX.org. I chose a writing course on EdX.org called English Grammar and Essay Writing through Berkeley. I know that it is geared more toward ESL speakers and writers, but knew that it would at least ensure I was started writing more frequently.

But something happened today that made me rethink following through with the homework portion of this class. This week’s prompt was the following:

“Write a paragraph that describes your favorite place to visit in your home village, town, or city. Try to make your grammar as correct as you can.”

Not too difficult – I can do that even with boring old Townville as the subject since that is what was asked – writing about my favorite place to visit in my home village, town or city.

This was my response:

“Townville, Pennsylvania is not an exciting hometown to visit. With a population of only 300 it certainly lacks typical activities that most would consider a favorite place to visit. My favorite thing to do when I visit my home? Nothing. I love taking long walks in the woods, or if it is snowing going cross country skiing, taking in the silence of the middle of nowhere. I don’t need to go visit a million people and do a million things. I just need a warm coat, boots or skis, and my two little dogs to keep me company in our quiet corner of northwestern Pennsylvania.”

As I re-read it after submitting, I did notice my grammatical errors, but the content, to me, seemed to meet the criteria of the prompt –  I wrote about my favorite thing to do in my tiny home village. I did use the word visit WAY too much.

After submitting, you then had to peer review 5 other students. Fine. I understand that – everyone wants and needs feedback. I read 5 submissions that were a bit all over the place, but 3 of them stood out as strong and covered the topic required.

The others went on a complete tangent about their travel style or a vacation they just went on – completely ignoring the question and one of which had terrible grammar (though I think it may have been because it was submitted on a phone or some device that doesn’t allow capitalization or spaces between sentences).

Guess what? That was my number one feedback, too. I didn’t cover the topic in the prompt.

And this, my friends, is where the frustration and anger began and where my desire to complete the ‘homework’ went out the window. Yes I will write, but no I don’t want someone peer editing my work if they aren’t giving constructive feedback.

One of the reviewers graded me “fair” and wrote the following:

“If Pennsilvania is not exciting why didn´t you write something from a place you like. I think you write very fluently and well”

1. You can copy and paste Pennsylvania from my paragraph. 2. I didn’t write about another place because I was told to write about my hometown… which I did. Sorry if you think it is a made-up town. I assure you it is very real if very small. 3. I didn’t say I didn’t like it, I just said it wasn’t exciting. Places don’t have to be exciting for someone to like them. 4. Yes I am fluent. English is my native language. Thank you for giving me constructive feedback on the commas I was missing or changing vocabulary. If I wrote so well, why did you just give me “fair”? Is it because I offended you with my boring hometown? Or again, do you not think it exists?

Another person flat out said I didn’t cover what the prompt asked. That was the only thing they said. I also think I threw them off with the question in the middle of the paragraph, which isn’t a mistake.

Did you even READ what I wrote? I’m going to say no, no you did not.

I’m just a bit frustrated and amused that I’m actually receiving a grade based on this peer review (I got a 5/10 because two of my 4 reviews were ‘fair’). If I was paying for the actual certificate, I would be even more angered that my final grade incorporates the feedback of peers who apparently don’t understand the prompts or how to give constructive feedback.

I guess we’ll see what happens after next week’s homework assignment. If I even do it.


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