Bear with me on this because it's a long road to hoe, but upon our point of arrival we shall encounter a delicious result.
So back to how much grading sucks... it is the single worst part of teaching (if you allow that the internal politics can sometimes be at least partially entertaining). They never tell you when you get hired to be a professor/instructor/teacher, "Congrats, you've got the job! I hope you like hours-upon-hours of monotonous pouring through indecipherable handwriting in an effort to hopefully glean what you believe is a correct response, all the while having a continuous inner monologue about how you can't believe 'they're just not getting it no matter how many times we've gone over this topic. What?!? How could you possibly get this wrong when we did this exact problem in class? AAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!'"
I would rather do taxes for a hoarder with thousands of write-offs than grade a pile of homework.
I would rather write code for a college scheduling program than flip through another 150 hand-written pieces of notebook paper looking for correct answers!
I would rather read an advanced text on conjugate gradient methods than decipher one more scrawled mess that could possibly represent some logical deduction!
- Over a 16 week semester, this time spent grading comes out to 160 hours (almost 7 continuous days).
- Over an entire academic year it doubles to 320 hours (nearly two weeks).
- Considering a 30-year career, I could spend upwards of 9,600 hours grading your individual assignments!
- That's 400 days of constant, insufferable, maddening analysis of thousands upon thousands of individual student papers.
- Over one full year of reading handwriting that will progressively get worse as students rely less on pen and paper skills and more on computers to communicate.
- More than 1% of my life will be spent pouring through the individual works of these students who curse my name while they take my class.
A.K.A. Here's the part where I sound like an old man
Tongue-in-cheek comments aside, it was different when I went to college. I guess that's the story of the world. I embrace many things that come with time, but the advent of easier-to-access solutions is not one. If an instructor gave an assignment, you couldn't go searching on your beeper for the solution. If a problem stumped you, you couldn't take a Polaroid of it and have it magically showcase the worked-out solution. You couldn't jump into your Datsun and drive to Bell Labs to have them run your integral through a machine to print out some hexadecimal representation of a solution. Your homework was a true representation of your knowledge and effort.
Okay, I am not so old as to pre-date the technological revolution called the internet; however, there just was no possibility to survive in a mathematics course without struggling through hours-upon-hours of work. Your only resource was the textbook, which you would read because it was your mathematical bible, your instructor, and your fellow students. I, and almost all of your mathematics professors, faced constructive struggle. This is what made us the critical thinkers we are (well... most of us are).
When we say that we are trying to teach you critical thinking skills, we really should be saying, "don't just search for an answer online or on your phone (which, surprise Mr. Millennial, is actually just an interface with the internet)." I know it's tempting to skip the struggle and just copy an answer from Chegg or some alternative site offering automated homework solutions for any given problem. I conjecture that if that technology was around 20 years ago, recently discovered answers to the deeper, more theoretical questions within the sciences and mathematics would not exist. You would have a contingent of "critical thinkers" brought to you by Google and Chegg.
Better yet, I could just start using online homework again on this InterWebby thing. I could have the elf working in my compu-box randomize the values in your specific homework problem so copying from Chegg is more of an interactive learning experience ("hmm... this was a 2 in the original problem, but it is a 3 on my homework. Oh, look! That 2 is in the answer on Chegg, so my version should still have the 3 in the answer. Man, I am a critical thinker!").
In the meantime, do us both a favor and write "I copied this from Chegg" or "All solutions derived from my paid subscription to WolframAlpha" so I can just give you, say, 80% without even looking at it.