Opinion | Class value: Students should learn both in, out of lecture
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 27, 2012 00:04
In my last semester of college, I have reached the pinnacle of class absences.
Surely to the chagrin of my professors, class was not atop my priorities, only graduating.
In the only economics course I took, the professor explained that his interest was not in students’ showing up to class, for it was each individual’s decision to figure out whether or not it was worth being there.
I kept that with me.
Attendance is not by any real means, a parameter of success in any aspect, unless you really pride yourself on your ability to be somewhere at a certain time.
I would never argue that class is hardly worth attending, only that that value varies wildly.
The value of class depends not only on the professor, the material and the students, but what I could be doing outside of it.
The options in this scenario, even on a humdrum day, are outrageously numerous.
You’re probably thinking, at this point, if you don’t want to be in class, why would you bother with college?
Quite simply, I never would have been able to experience most of the things I have if I hadn’t been a student.
It isn’t that I don’t learn, I love learning and being a student here has done wonderful things for me.
But class brings with it a lot of negatives that don’t always guarantee learning.
I mean no personal offense, but there are some subjects that professors simply do not play a large role in understanding.
I’m looking at you Miami Plan courses.
Discussion heavy courses, which most of my classes are, can be even worse than lecture based class time.
A central tenet to our education is that we can learn from each other and discussion based courses are a great way to do that.
But it simply isn’t true that each and every student brings with him an insight.
I’ve been on both sides of it.
Sometimes, it makes more sense not to say anything than to try and force some topic of idea that’s awful from the start.
Classrooms are meant to foster each student’s ability to think and then communicate without fear of judgment.
That judgment, often fear of being wrong and shamed, ought be exercised a little more.
Don’t be afraid to be wrong, but please have tried everything you can think of on your own to figure something out before bringing what you think is central to the table, only to rub every other student the wrong way.
Not everyone can see what you think is so important, which is often the case it isn’t.
A constant influx of student opinions dilutes what are sometimes really wonderful things that students can contribute.
In this way, class is a lottery. “If I go, will I have learned something I couldn’t have attained or arrived at on my own?”
More often than not, the answer is no.
Most students are painfully aware of this.
The number of passive aggressive sighs, eye rolls and snide remarks are evidence of it.
By the time your schedule is comprised mostly of seminars and seniors, classes are often overflowing with each student’s sense of self-worth.
It’s only a problem when they choose to express it.
You might be in a 400-level class, but that doesn’t mean what you have to say is properly reflecting this fact.
Further, if someone takes you up on the challenge, and heaven forbid disagrees with you, it should not be taken personally.
There is a sincere problem with the prevalence of people that are unable to separate an argument from their own person.
Simply put, if I defeat your proposition, it isn’t you that I’m dismantling, only the position.
If only it were that simple. What is or isn’t worth saying?
On the impossible number of things an individual can say in class, there’s obviously no black and white of acceptable or otherwise.
I have enough confidence in human beings, that should they more critically consider what is about to come out of their mouth in front of other people, they would not likely say the things they do.
A more optimistic person would have me believe that this is just part of learning.
That’s part what college is for, how to learn to deal with other people.
That may be true, I needed my time in college to learn these things.
At the end of four years here, a wonderful four years, I wish more people considered this:
Your education isn’t restricted to a classroom, so don’t think going to each and every session is the only way to learn while you’re here.