Tuesday, February 17, 2009

University Madness

Sometimes, when I'm at the university, I feel like I'm crazy- like I'm engaged in some sort of bizzare and quixotic quest simply in making an honest effort on a daily basis. I mean, I'm no genius; but I try. I take an interest in things and make an effort. I also try to stay positive, but everyone I meet at this school- professors, students, grad students, etc.- give off constant vibes of negativity. I think it often seeps into me and bleeds into my life and this blog.

Today, I was sitting in the lecture hall, and the professor was lecturing on state building, and I was the only person within my field of vision who was taking notes. The two young men in front of me were on their laptops- one doing Facebook and the other playing some sort of shooter game; the girl next to them was sleeping; a kid next to me was irritatedly playing with his cell phone. In fact, that was the predominant emotion- irritation. Most of them seemed genuinely vexed that this man was lecturing in the lecture hall during the weekly lecture portion of the class. Maybe they expected something different.

And it isn't like we take roll or anything; they needn't be there if they find the lectures bothering. And yet, they come; if only to be annoyed. Maybe it's a ritual for them, part of their identity that's performed by being disinterested in anything that's not taking place on a digital screen. Maybe it makes them feel sophisticated to be disinterested, and if they were disinterested at home, nobody else would see it. Some of them come and talk throughout the lecture- I generally tell them to be quiet. But, I'm really not sure if more than twenty percent of them actually pay any attention at all during the lectures, and none of them take any notes. When the exams come, a good number of them will fail, and if we were grading more honestly, a majority of them would be failing. As it is, a majority of them will flunk out anyway. I only teach for those twenty percent anymore.

I don't know if it's this area- in these blue collar cities, most people you meet give off a vibe of lazy frustration at all times. But, it still feels weird to attend a university that so closely resembles a high school. Quite a few of the professors respond to the low-level hostility by ''dummying up'' the courses. And this course in particular asks almost nothing of the students; maybe that's the problem. I often wonder what we're doing here. A certain percentage of the students have no interest whatsoever in doing college-level work, and a [slight] majority of them really can't do college-level work. And nobody in the university seems to much care about that.

It's sort of nuts.

Its Mighty Crazy - Lightnin Slim

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