Just…Shut…Up…

It’s a day that still lingers in the back of my mind. I’m embarrassed by it like it happened yesterday. I think I was 20 years old, in a Psychology 201 class. The professor was a young lady, somewhere around early thirties or maybe really late twenties. The class was rather large and crammed into a large and awkward classroom that was not really all that conducive to running an effective lecture. And there I sat on the front row because it was one of the only seats left.

I already had some negative feelings towards the class because I had always thought that psychology was for quacks. I thought that the mind should be something that was embraced and not over-analyzed, so I thought that all psychologists were nuts. As class moved just 3 weeks into the semester my instructor began to tell us about this new theory that she was absolutely crazy about. Some guy had done some research on some neighborhoods in some city about some young males and some doomsday-type data.

She went on to tell us that this guys’ theory states that our very environment shapes and molds our way of thinking to the point that it can lead us into subliminal cycles of destruction without us even knowing it.

B…o…r…i…n…g.

As I slipped in and out of consciousness I noticed that there was a map on the projector screen. It was a map of a city–my home city to be exact. I also noticed that there was one neighborhood that was circled and highlighted on the entire map.

“His theory states that these cycles are broad and destructive and can happen to anyone within the sphere of enfluence. He learned that any African American male who is born and raised in this highlighted circle would have a criminal record, have a child out of wedlock and/or not make it to college by the age of 20”, said the instructor. I paused and began to stare. The circled area included my home zip code…I was 20…I had no kids…I had no criminal record…and I was insulted.

The next five minutes were quite interesting. I challeneged her theory–out loud. I embarrassed her in front of about 135 students. She attempted to rebound with a joke about my intellegence. I returned fire and totally toasted her with a highly intellectual joke. I won. Right?

I lost.

For the rest of that semester, she made my life a living hell. She took every moment to embarrass me. The other students isolated me. No one would do group work with me. Things occurred that semester in my personal life that required flexibility from my teachers so that I could break away from my academic work to get a grip on the situation at hand–can you guess who didn’t flex one bit? By the time I got out of her class, my ego felt like it got caught in a marital spat between the Incredible Hulk and Godzilla. I learned a valuable lesson that semester as I received my “C that could have been an A that was really a D but she passed me so that she didn’t have to look at me again“. They are three words that can make an instructor your ally and grateful resource. They are three words that can expand your social network and hide you from the fruit of stupidity. Take the advice from the title of this blog as well as my story and just…shut…up…

This Class Is Stupid–I Quit!!! (Question 9 and Question 10)

Question #9: Who is my life line?

Who do you have to support you? When life feels like crap, who can you turn to? Who helps you laugh without charging a fee for it? They tell you that when life gives you lemons to make lemonade–but who brings the sugar and water??? If you are planning to quit a class, and you realize that you didn’t have a cheering section before hand, then you may want to gather one for the next time. Encouragement is the lifeline of an overcomer.   

Question #10: What classes prepared me for this one?

Most students are looking for the quickest way to a degree. I don’t blame them at all–time is expensive! However, everyone must understand that every course is created with the assumption that you took a previous course to prepare you for your current arrival. You can use this to your advantage as well. Simply ask your current instructor which classes should a student have completed in order to become succesful in that instructors’ class. Now look at YOUR past course selections and your past performance in those classes. I had a student who was in an Anatomy and Physiology course. The student was barely answering enough questions to make a double digit score. When I asked the students wich courses had they taken this was the conversation:

Me: “Your grades are not looking so good in Anatomy and Physiology. Which classes did you take before taking this course?”

Student: “Oh, I know what you are thinking. You want to know if I took any sciences courses before taking this one. i can assure you that I have taken enough science classes to pass this class. So it must be something else that is the problem. I think that it is the test format.”

Me: “Uh huh. Well, what classes did you take before Anatomy and Physiology?”

Student: “Oh, I took two semesters of Biology, Medical Terminology and Basic Anatomy so I know that it’s not my fault. Like I said, it’s the testing format.”

Me: “Oh, by the way. How well did you do in those courses.”

Student: “Oh, I hated them! I barely passed any of them. But what do science courses have to do with Anatomy and Physiology?”

Yeah…true story. Needless to say that that student did not pass Anatomy and Physiology. They continued for the remainder of the semester blaming the test format. Had they realized that their lack of preparation had set them up for failure, they could spared their GPA the painful results of their inability to be honest with their past failure. The inability to be honest with past failure simply creates failure for the future.