Yesterday my psychology professor asked our class if we’d like to leave class forty-five minutes early, and of course everyone enthusiastically nodded yes or shot their hands in the air or started packing their stuff on the spot.
I wanted to go as much as the next person, of course. There was freedom outside that door.
One girl raised a tentative hand and asked, “Are we going to have to know the rest for the test?” because we still had some of the lecture left.
“No, you don’t – ”
And that was that. People were basically already running away at that point.
“- but I mean you still need to know it for life,” said my professor, then chuckled a little and turned off the projector.
Everyone else laughed, too, as they left the room on their merry ways. I was almost out the door at that point, too. But what he said hit me hard.
We need to know the material for life. We don’t need to know it for the test. So therefore, as proven by everyone still leaving the classroom and not demanding to sit down and hear the rest of the lecture, none of it mattered at all.
The answer to life the universe and everything could have been up on that screen but if a pop quiz wasn’t in our future, we’d rather book it home and spend some quality time with our Netflix accounts.
When I came to college I wanted to learn it all, the answer to life and everything. Now some days I’d rather be asleep in bed than in class. Some people are simply just asleep in class.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say learning for the sake of learning is dead. but I might say that the want to learn is dying. Sometimes I sit in class wondering why I need to know what I am being taught to know.
Don’t get me wrong. There are times when I absolutely love what I am learning, and am privileged beyond measure to be doing so. Yet there are times when I can’t help but wonder if this is what I’m going to need to know in my future, if memorizing a twenty page study guide is going to get me a job. But should it matter? Do I want information in my brain just to have it there, or for the end result – the grade, the career?
I think part of the problem is we don’t know what we need to know – but if we knew that all of our problems would be solved. And I’m not saying I have a solution to the apathy pollution, yet I think if we could somehow bring ourselves back to that mindset when we were young and wide-eyed and ready for knowledge instead of bed, well, that would be a start.
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