I've written what I hope to be my last final exam. Actually I wrote two, because I have two sections, and the group who will take their exam last are slightly less trustworthy in my estimation than the first group. It's really tough to write two different exams. I want to make sure that both cover the topics, but I don't want there to be so much obvious overlap that a cheater can prosper. The goal is to write four questions that result in the same general sets of answers. I'm bearing a slight grudge against the second section, because many of them slacked through the last two weeks and misrepresented their preparedness for many of our discussions. I've decided to give them the sets of questions that are incredibly broad, because these are often the hardest to answer thoroughly. The first section, which I sensed struggled sometimes but had a much better work ethic, will get the questions that are more pointed and establish recognizable parameters for how to answer them. It is my hope that the extra work I put into this will ensure that their efforts are rewarded and being lame is punished appropriately.
Speaking of lame, I dismissed the second section after 5 minutes on the last day of class because most of them had not bothered to do any of assigned reading. I might have carried on if I hadn't been provoked to violence by the guy who admitted that he'd already sold back his textbook. Really? After I told you that the final exam would be a take-home, open-book exam?!? Ridiculous.
The point? I'm just too jaded to keep doing this. This is not a new song, but to have a dream like this as an articulation of my ambivalence toward grading papers and writing exams is telling, at least to me. My last semester of teaching has been redemptive, as I do not feel embattled. Still, I walk away knowing that I've left nothing that I want behind.