THE STORY OF THE GRAD SCHOOL PAPER – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My mother’s first husband died when she was 29 years old. She had just gone back to college to get her degree. Years earlier, she had to leave college in her second year, due to illness. She ended up getting her Master’s Degree in psychology and becoming a practicing psychologist. She started out as a child psychologist but later switched to adults. She found that treating children was too physically demanding for her after she had me.

Anyway, while she was in graduate school, she was dating my father. He was a prominent and published psychiatrist and anthropologist. In one of her psych classes, she was required to read a book that my father had written. She then had to write a paper on the book.

Mom and Dad in their dating days

Coincidentally, Mom had helped my dad edit this book before it was published. Mom was swamped with other schoolwork, so she asked my father to write the paper for her. He knew that she knew the book backwards and forwards, so he agreed to help her.

I’m sure you can guess what happened. Mom got a B, her worst grade ever. On top of that, the professor wrote comments in the margins. She said that Mom misunderstood what the author meant on one point, and missed the point of what he was trying to say on another.

Of course Mom couldn’t say anything to the professor! She had to swallow her grade and move on. My dad found the whole situation disturbing, but funny.

Mom never had Dad write anything for her again.

20 thoughts on “THE STORY OF THE GRAD SCHOOL PAPER – BY ELLIN CURLEY”

    1. I’ve heard versions of this story about other writers too. I don’t know if it reflects badly on the author – he didn’t communicate his ideas well enough. Or badly on the teacher who just didn’t get it.

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    1. The frustrating part was that Mom couldn’t tell the teacher how wrong SHE was. She was deprived of her ‘gottcha’ moment because, of course, she couldn’t say anything to the teacher.

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    1. I have compiled my family blogs, in chronological order, in a big three ring binder for my kids. So they have a family history in blogs. If you know a publisher who might be interested, please let me know!

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    1. I wish I had contacts in the publishing industry. My husband and I wrote a screenplay and tried to get it read by someone in the industry who could facilitate a movie deal. We gave up, even with a daughter in the business in LA. She didn’t know the right people in the right sub section of the industry.

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  1. Jeffrey had a similar story except the “author” got nailed for plagiarism. The prof did not take it in good spirit. Personally, I think the professor didn’t get it. I didn’t think they got it MOST of the time, but that’s just my opinion.

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