How to Gaslight Your English Comp Students

Jennie Young
Jul 24, 2020 · 2 min read
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*Written by Emily Kincaid, Nichole Rued, and Jennie Young

For the first essay, assign a personal narrative. In your grading comments, suggest that the student appears to be self-centered and think everything is about her. How is this relevant to society?

Never miss an opportunity to invoke the LMS. For example, when a student asks if you require an abstract, look thoughtful and say, “Hmm, I’ll check with the LMS.” Never explain what “LMS” means.

You can also blame any problem, technological or otherwise, on the LMS. Simply say, “It must be a problem with the LMS. I’ll check into it.”

When a student emails asking for a document you said you would post online but forgot to post, post it immediately and then reply, “I don’t know…I just checked, and it was there.” Recommend they contact the IT helpline to see if there’s a problem with the settings on their laptop. Instead of the IT number, give them the number for the university counseling center.

Use the “comment” feature on Word to subtly call into question your students’ fundamental realities. This is especially effective in essays that take the form of “my grandma was a saint” or “my dad is my hero.” For example, you could add a comment that says something like, “I appreciate how much your dad sacrificed for the family by working so many hours, but this really seems like an unbelievable number of hours. Do you think it’s possible he was somewhere other than work? I don’t think most accounting firms are open in the middle of the night.” Or something like that.

Tell students that participation and collaboration are crucial elements of their final grades. Teach only straight lectures.

If a student e-mails and asks you to proofread her essay, explain that proofreading is a form of oppression and intellectual hegemony. Grade her extremely harshly on any grammatical errors.

Teach your students to always begin their intro paragraphs with a general statement that is widely applicable, and then absolutely lose your shit when half of them kick it off with “In today’s society . . .”

When your student asks you if her essay is long enough, say something like, “I think there are some passages that offer you an opportunity for further development,” but don’t offer to identify the passages, and never, ever, articulate exactly how long you want the essay to be.

When a student says he doesn’t understand what “peer-reviewed sources” mean, smile and ask him if he’s making friends in college.

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