Thursday, November 12, 2009
Once Upon a Time in a Classroom of Thirty
Once upon a time I was a single, divorced mother of a young teen daughter, working a 40-hour week and attending night school full time. I was concerned that I might need to move to another location and if I moved, I was concerned that I might not find a job that would support the two of us. Hence the night school.
Twice a week I left work early, took a 30-minute nap, then headed south 65 miles to the campus, attended two 2.5 hour classes back to back, then drove home, arriving there at just ten minutes past midnight. It was hard...working 40 hours...being a Mom...studying intensely for the classwork. Ours was a compressed schedule, meaning we completed two college classes every 8 weeks. Tough economically (tuition $$$$$$ spelled with a capital $) and tough mentally and physically.
But that's where I was 22 years ago. Sitting in a business class that was driving me bohnkers. Here are my notes for that evening...you will see why this was not my favorite class.
My notes of Feb 18, 1987, 9:20 PM
Topic - Steelworkers Trilogy & Arbitration
The class has bogged down in questions re: the issue of arbitration clauses in union-management disputes.
I look around the room. Craig, sitting in front of me, is doodling flowers on his notes. Kim (the blonde one) is seated with both feet extended in front of her propped on the desk there. She's looking around the room rather confusedly. The dark-haired Kim is rubbing her eyes. Craig draws stems on his flowers. Connie, who seems to be suffering burn-out (aren't we all), is asking pointed questions in an obnoxious manner. Bill, a rather even-tempered, intelligent and likeable fellow points out two directly contradictory statements in one paragraph. He's right. They are contradictory. The whole book is contradictory.
Everyone is tired. The guy who works in an emergency room at a trauma center somewhere is tired tonight. He's chewing his fingernails. Dan is yawning and holding his head in his hands. Everyone appears to be taking notes. I wonder if they, like me, are writing something totally useless for studying for our final. This guy makes things so confusing.
We take a break.
Back from break. Probably six have gone home and not returned. Twenty-three remain.
The instructor, Mr. Say, makes a point re: arbitration and authority of the court in a given situation. The guy to the left questions in paraphrase. Say restates. Still not clear. "If you have problems with the paragraph, reading outside of class will not help." Huh? Why, then, are we reading the book?
Say, "Granted, it is technical; it is detailed. You can't really go outside of it and have a general gloss over as to what it means. There is going to be something re: the effects of the trilogy on the exam. Bear with it and hash it through. Any questions?"
There are no questions. I have been sleepy in other classes other nights but I am more tired this PM than any other night here. We've spent two hours now on four pages. The test we take Wednesday will cover four chapters of nearly 100 pages. Progress is slow.
Bill, the intelligent one, left during break. So did Craig, the flower doodler. I see other empty seats. I can't remember the faces. Jim left. The custodian from Woodbine asks a question.
I'm not listening. The least I could do is spend this time reading the material except it is difficult to concentrate. At least this way, half-listening, I pick up a point here and there.
Say says, "If you read it later and it still presents a problem, ask. There is going to be a question on the trilogy case."
My thought is that we're spending a lot of time on one 3-point question.
Mark with the moustache looks as if he's napping. Wish I were.
To sum up: I succeeded in completing my courses and obtaining a BA in business. Never had to apply for another job as I was able to stay where I was. Still..all that hard work was good for me. I had a sense of satisfaction in completing the classes and spending time in the classroom probably went a long ways towards keeping me out of mischief. Busy hands and busy mind don't have a lot of time to get into trouble elsewhere.