Where academics and opinion meet

Reporter: Renita Naraine

Have you ever taken those classes where it feels like the professors are not only in full control, but your marks are heavily weighted and based on their opinions? Essentially, I am paying college tuition to get opinions. I’m sure I can find opinions for free, at home or from friends.
I can’t say I am always satisfied with my grades, but as long as they can be justified, I will not complain. The only problem is not all marks can be justified, according to some teachers.
I’m not studying to be a mathematician or a brain surgeon. On a math test, the calculation is right or wrong and when it comes to my brain, well that surgeon better know exactly what he or she is doing.
I’m a writer. Unfortunately, writers don’t get the same treatment in school. Yes, there is a correct answer when it comes to grammar, but what about when dealing with layout, style and the overall piece of work.
Marks are based on the opinions of the one professor and hopefully the piece of work entertains that professor, otherwise there is no possible way that it will entertain other people, right? Wrong.
There isn’t one newspaper that could satisfy the needs of every individual person in the world. Oshawa This Week is written for the residents of Oshawa while The Globe and Mail targets a business-related audience.
There isn’t one magazine to glorify all the hobbies, tips, and knowledge of the world. Instead, there are many magazines covering all sorts of world issues and group interests. In addition, the magazines have styles of writing and content based on their regular readers, which usually consists of specific groups. For example, Today’s Parent is not written to capture the attention of teenagers who love fashion. Vice versa, Cosmopolitan is certainly not overflowing with tips for new parents.
Why is it that some courses are aimed for students to satisfy the needs of one teacher? Why is it that some teachers feel like their opinions are the only ones that matter? Furthermore, is it possible that my writing is suitable, understandable and entertaining for people my age, as well as magazines that I may want to write for in the future, but it may not necessarily satisfy the likes or wants of the teacher?
I’m not saying that I have not learned anything in those classes, but that doesn’t mean everything they taught is the only way to achieve success, especially when it comes to creativity.
And I promise I’m not crying over grades. I wouldn’t bawl over a 52 per cent, especially if I didn’t study. I’m not the student to wail because I got 75 per cent when that is the exact mark I deserved. However, I will make a scene and possibly shed some tears if I get 99 per cent and know that I deserve perfect. It’s merely the principle of it. If you refuse to give me perfect, then tell me exactly what I did wrong and how I can achieve perfection next time around.
I’m not begging for that one per cent because I need it, but rather I am begging for an explanation, an amazing one. In fact, I think I deserve an explanation as much as the professor owes me one. Where did you, as a teacher, go wrong in teaching me the correct way?
I refuse to believe I messed up when I had the instructor’s so-called guidelines in front me. I followed the rules and then went beyond what was asked. And let’s face it, technically I should lose marks for going beyond since it was NOT what was asked of me.
I don’t want to hear excuses such as “It’s impossible to get 100 per cent in a course or on an assignment.”
As an overachiever/part-time perfectionist, I will not tolerate excuses or opinions. It is unfair and unjust to give out assignments created to be impossible to get perfect on.
God forbid I follow instructions without fault and perhaps manage to get perfect on something. Shame on me. What is the world coming to?
At the end of the day, I don’t want an opinion. I want to learn the right and wrong ways and if that can’t be taught then let me do it my way. If it is still thought to be wrong, then get another opinion to back up the first negative one.
I would never fight for marks that I didn’t feel like I deserved and earned.
One person’s negative criticism on a piece of writing, or any piece of work for that matter, does not mean it’s the end of the world. It doesn’t mean we should give up on dreams because our style doesn’t suit their demands.
Instead, it most definitely means I’ll feel so much more satisfied when I have succeeded in the journalism world and proved that individual wrong.
But that’s just my opinion.