A varied and sometimes erratic record of what I'm learning inside and outside of the classroom

Friday, January 21, 2011

Of Falling Asleep in Academic Institutions


I know I'm dozing off when my thoughts start getting weird.

Random things like pink encyclopedias and dinosaurs making cupcakes often appear in the midst (or mist? haha) of that transition between complete consciousness and full-on sleep. Of course, I only become particularly aware of these strange figments of my semi-consciousness when I'm trying to fight my body as it's attempting to shut down. For instance, grammar class this afternoon. Sentences and indirect objects start melding into verbs from my Latin test this morning and scenes from Disney's Up and someone is flying and there's chocolate and-- "What? Subject predicative? Well, that's, uh..."

Photo credit:
grampymoose on flickr.com
Well, it pains me to have to admit it, but I have fallen asleep in class before. My sincerest apologies to all my professors in whose classes this has occurred, especially if I was sitting in the front row (like I was today--yikes!). I promise I am interested in what you have to say--it's just that likely as not, I'm running on about 5 hours of sleep and not very much food, if any. (Mom, if you're reading this, I promise I'm doing better, in general, at taking care of myself this semester. Love you!) That's kind of what happened last night--I had some things to take care of earlier in the day, which meant that I didn't start my homework and studying for aforementioned Latin exam until about 9:45 pm. Not exactly conducive to staying alert in a grammar class at 1:00 the next afternoon. I promise that I want to learn and that I really do care--I'm just TIRED. (Is it breaking the Honor Code if I occasionally wish there were caffeinated Dr. Pepper available in the Cougareat? No, I honestly haven't ever taken caffeine for stimulus purposes, but I've been sorely tempted.)

Well, I technically haven't ever fallen completely asleep in class, but when you're devoting all your energy to just trying to stay awake, you might as well be completely asleep anyway; you're learning about as much. You know, I used to have no sympathy for the kids back in high school who would put their heads down and sleep through all their classes. (Side note--in one of my classes last year a guy fell asleep and snored through the entire Powerpoint lecture. There were some quiet parts too, when we were supposed to be silently reading, and we could hear the sounds of his slumber resonating from the back...kinda funny.) Anyway, sleeping in school always seemed rather disrespectful to me. I'm still pretty sure some of those snoozing high school kids didn't really care much about their education, but having done my share of dozing, I can look back on them with a less jaundiced eye. There have been times where I honestly feel like I CANNOT keep myself awake. My notes often reflect this--I've started writing a word, but it trails off into an illegible squiggle. I feel bad for my professors--with my fairly limited teaching experience, I know how discouraging/frustrating it can be sometimes when students don't seem to be engaged in the lesson (like those who are sleeping, for example). So will I stop falling asleep in class? Well, realistically, as long as I'm sleep deprived (which is the majority of the time) probably not. But I'll sure try.

(I propose we reinstate naptime for college students. All in favor? Tell you what--I'll let you sleep on it. :) )

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Encounter With Jimmer

You know this guy, the one pictured on the right? That one, with the big #32 on his jersey: the one who scored 47 points against the Utes last night in Salt Lake, and who was featured today on the front page of BYU's newspaper, The Daily Universe. The guy named as one of the top point guards in the nation--All-American, and Mountain West Conference Player of the Week eleven times. Yeah--THAT guy.

I stood next to him in line today at the Cougareat.

No, I didn't say hi, or congratulate him on the team STOMPING Utah last night (a defeat from which, my roommate smugly insists, they will never fully recover). Before you immediately label me a coward, let me explain my reasons for failing to pipe up to this guy who can really "throw it down" on the basketball court--literally. 47 points in one game is nothing to sneeze at.

First of all, yes, perhaps some of it was me being a chicken. Honestly, I was kind of afraid I would geek out on him, something along the lines of "OHmyGOODNESSYOU'REJIMMERFREDETTEandI'mACTUALLYSTANDINGNEXTTOYOU!!!" I generally try to avoid embarrassing myself in such a manner. I did, however, allow myself a private smile or two, basking a little in the glory of the superstar standing next to me.

Interestingly enough, he seemed to be by himself; he didn't talk to anyone as he stood in line. "Well," I thought to myself, "he probably gets people coming up to him all the time and gushing all over about what a phenomenal player he is--maybe he just wants to be left alone for a change." I mean, how would that be? People staring at you all the time in public and constantly being approached by perfect strangers, who, adoring though they may be, are perfect strangers nonetheless. All anxious to be acquainted with Jimmer Fredette, BYU basketball superstar well on his way to becoming a legend, just so they can say to their friends that they said hi to him one day in the Cougareat or in their History of Creativity class. But what about Jimmer Fredette, person? Does he ever get tired of only being recognized for his athletic ability?

One of my younger brothers is one of the most gifted athletes I know, and we have been told by several people of expertise that he is one of the top-tier soccer players his age in the nation. But he gets so tired of people just saying to him, "Wow--you are SO GOOD at soccer." Yeah, so what? It is a major part of who he is, but that's just it--it's a part. He has thoughts and feelings and ideas and characteristics not all associated with soccer. Maybe Jimmer would like to have a conversation that didn't mention basketball at all for a change. Maybe he actually cares about something other than turnovers and shooting averages, if anyone took the time to ask. Athletes are people too.

Well, Jimmer, I don't know what it's like to be in the limelight like you do. I'll probably never experience anything remotely close to the feeling of leading a nationally ranked team to victory in front of thousands of screaming fans. I do admire your tremendous talent, of course, and offer my congratulations on all your athletic accomplishments in addition to everyone else's. However, if I were to be again in circumstances similar to those earlier today, and did actually have the courage to open my mouth to release a coherent utterance, there is something I would want to tell you:

I sincerely hope you have a nice day. From one person, one college student, one human being, to another.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Romantic Inception

This semester I have British Literary History in the Talmage Building at BYU. That's right--an English class in the math/computer science building. Weird. Whenever I go in there I feel a little self-conscious, half expecting all the math students to somehow sense that I don't belong, like the figures of the subconscious in Inception. Well, I've been to class twice and haven't been attacked/stabbed/shot at yet, so we're doing pretty good so far.

ANYway, we are currently studying the Rrrrrromantic Period of British literature. All this was sounding vaguely familiar...goodness knows it should, considering we discussed Romanticism in all three of the English classes I took last semester. Today, in particular, we were discussing the writings of Wordsworth and Shelley in regards to poetry/poets (taken from the preface to Lyrical Ballads and from "A Defense of Poetry," respectively). I shall now regale you with an excerpt from the excerpt we read today from Wordsworth:
"What is a poet? He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind..."
To this, my professor added, the Romantic poet was a "super-emo guy"--I mean, these people were sensitive. I was thinking, as we discussed this passage, that we as a lone English class in a sea of math instruction going on around us, were kind of like the Romantic poets in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. While the students in the other rooms around us were toiling away at the nuts and bolts of computer programming and multi-variable calculus and the kind of more everyday, methodical things, we were smelling the roses (or, to acknowledge Wordsworth, the daffodils) of culture and refinement.

Please don't shoot me now. You can still be cultured as a math major, I promise.