An unfortunate side-effect of attending a big-name university like ours is that school often gets in the way of learning.
While there is something to be said for the ability to write an entire A-paper from scratch (i.e. no familiarity with subject matter, no thesis) between the hours of 1 and 6 a.m. after a particularly harrowing shift at work – while there is an element of learning involved here – it is an easily-forgotten-after-a-two-hour-nap-and-a-24-ounce-cup-of-coffee sort of learning.
“Finish your paper?”
Yeah, at six.
“What was it about?”
Can’t remember. Book of Mark, maybe. Head hurts.
I may never remember what happened in the Book of Mark, but I did get that A on the paper, which was all I cared about at the time. I sometimes wonder who my high school guidance counselors were trying to fool when they told me I wouldn’t be able to pull stunts like this in college, to study the key terms at the end of the chapter or skim the Spark Notes and still manage to contribute more to class discussion than the dead-eyed drone in the corner who actually did the work. The sad reality is that now, as then, she who can string a sentence together on cue is often erroneously identified as a good student.
Around this time last year, I was a terrible student. I could feel my gray matter atrophying in 80 percent of the classes I was taking, so I took my brain elsewhere. I shunned homework, read and wrote (not for class) with reckless abandon, took up coffee and gave up sleep, went to The Fleetwood when I shouldn’t have, had wee-hour debates about politics, art, religion, life, love, pizza, death, taxes and storytelling. I was learning so much about the world and so little about geology that I was beginning to resent school for usurping so many precious hours of my education. The distinction really was that clear; I was either in class or I was learning something relevant and valuable.
Call it sophomoric rebellion, but I was sick of paying ridiculously high tuition each semester to sit in the windowless basement of the Modern Languages Building while GSI Joe glared at me because I once again had not done his fill-in-the-blank homework assignment. Je regrette, monsieur, mais je n’ai pas fait les devoirs heir soir parce qu’ils