Being a P

I had my students do the abbreviated Meyers-Briggs personality inventory.  Interestingly, as a group, the “E’s” or extroverts outnumbered the “I’s” or introverts about 4 to 1.  I wonder if that imbalance is true of the general population.  I need to do more research.  But I had expected more “E’s” though not quite at that ratio.

I was also surprised to notice, for the first time I think, that the “J’s” or judging types also outnumber the “P’s” or perceiving type by about the same 4 to 1 ratio. 

This interests me partly because I am both an I and a P and am apparently considerably outnumbered by all those E’s and J’s.  Also while I think I know the difference between the E’s and the I’s, I am not quite sure about the difference between the P’s and the J’s.

I got to thinking if maybe my being a P has something to do with the trouble I have giving grades.  Grading is judging.  That’s for sure.  And I don’t take to it all that well.  I know some of my fellow teachers have this sort of box thing going.  They line up the criteria for a paper:  Organization, Mechanics, Unity, Paragraphing—all sorts of things like that, and they read a paper and they give a number to each category and then they add them all up and that’s their judgment.

So from this I deduce that to be a J type a person has to have in his/her head (or from somewhere) a kind of list of criteria that assists in making a judgment.  Sort of like the box scores in baseball.  These are pretty clear because they are numbers.  X is not doing so well because his batting average is .244 or something like that.  So if you have these criteria and you use numbers you can arrive at a judgment and feel pretty comfortable about that judgment.

Certainly this would be true especially of those big classes where all the tests are multiple choice and then you add up the number correct and you arrive at a judgment.

When I read a student paper I certainly use in the back of my head some criteria—like organization or paragraphing or use of mechanics—but lots of other stuff is going on too.  Say, this student has written a pretty clear paper.  It’s organized and pretty easy to read.  But I get the feeling the student really hasn’t engaged the material at all.  The student wrote it, as I put it to myself, with his or her left hand.  And then, on the other hand, I find this paper that’s pretty screwed up—the paragraphing is off, and the mechanics are on the poor side—but I get the feeling the student really has tried to engage the material, to think about it and to write about it in a different sort of way.

What am I supposed to do?  The second student seems to be trying to learn something, to move forward and go ahead.  The first student has been well schooled and knows how to do just enough to do something satisfactory.

So my P inclinations really make it hard for me to perform my J duties.

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