I remember one time literally coaching Marvin to finish his exam.
“You’re only on the second essay? There are only seven minutes until the next class comes. Please don’t worry about scratching all that out, just draw one line through it.... I know you were here for this, but if you don’t even attempt the last question that’s five points you can’t earn credit.... please just start your next essay, I’m worried!”
He smiled up at me, pen in hand, then silently shook his head and took his time, carefully selecting each and every word of his succinct essay, unbothered as students from the next class—and their professor—entered our room.
On our after-exam walk toward the student and faculty parking lots, he asked why I tortured him with essays when he knew could ace multiple choice.
“It’s part of college,” I told him. “You have to be able to put your thoughts into writing. And I love, love, love reading essay answers. Sick, huh?”
He laughed. And he earned an A.
I never got to see what he was thinking in those statements he scratched out.
Did he think Einstein was president instead of Eisenhower?
Did he put the Ho Chi Minh Trail on the 38th parallel? Or in Cuba?
Did he confuse Jefferson and Jackson?
I still wonder.