Lost that feeling

THERE’S THIS FEELING you get right after school starts. The sort of feeling that you get when you hear good things about a professor, that his class is entertaining. That his class is useful. That his class gets out early.

Above all, that his class is easy.

Imagine all these feelings as a balloon of bliss and joy — never mind the relationship between bliss and ignorance.

They broke up last spring, when bliss dumped her boyfriend for apathy.

The difference between them? I don’t know and I really don’t care.

Nonetheless, my perkily inflated balloon is my undergraduate career, with those three semesters of print journalism coursework. It’s really only good at taking up space and being full of hot air.

I will never have to be on the wrong side of a test ever again, my balloon thinks airheadedly.

I matriculated, after all. I’ll never have to worry about turning in a stupid one-page reflection paper — a paper containing self-observations, written at the last minute — ever again.

The balloon floats around merrily, beside itself with glee.

Then it gets sucked into a jet engine, catches on fire and explodes in midair.

The fragments line guano-crusted nests for decades to come.

That’s what classes are like for me now.

One class even took the time to explain how we were going to find time in our busy schedule to write one-page reflection papers. This was Monday.

I was so mad, I could have written a whole blog about it on the Collegian website. And I did.

The worst part was trying to crash a required class. The section was closed, but a friend recommended it. That means it’s easy.

I show up to the class, a few minutes late. It’s already started — full of bustle and the whole interviewing-a-fellow-student schtick, so I find the waitlist.

I’m the sixth on the list.

A kindly older gentleman greets me, and I introduce myself. He motions toward the wait list and I tell him I already signed up.

“Is there any point in sticking around?”

“I don’t think so,” he said, with a friendly smile.

This class is required. Period. Not only that, but it’s concurrent with four others — without any single class, all will be dropped.

My only option was that open section, but with a professor I had never heard of.

I was worried.

The trouble with open sections with unfamiliar professors is that the professors tend to be notoriously loud and abrasive, complimented by few students and complemented by full tenure.

I was right. My class pretty much found out at the same time.

He was about a minute late himself, all hustle and business. A student asks if he’ll be dropped if he misses the first class to go to an orientation.

“Yes,” the professor said curtly.

“That’s not nice.”

The professor made it clear that being nice was not one of his priorities. We’ll call him Dr. Rosy.

He told us this story later, with an addendum.

“I hope to your God — because I’m not religious — that you do no try that ‘I-wanna-be-your-buddy’ routine with your students,” he said. “They will eat you alive.”

He doesn’t allow students to record the lecture without prior permission.

The higher-ups all told us that the wonderful profession of teaching is haunted only by looming litigation and a few troubled students here and there.

I didn’t hear a word of double-speak, or positive thinking, or bubbly and disorganized good-naturedness. He was a breath of fresh air.

I e-mailed the other professor, asking him if he could please take me off the waitlist.

I’ll deal with reflection papers for Dr. Rosy’s class. I have a feeling they’ll get read.

Benjamin Baxter is a post-baccalaureate student working toward his high school credential in social science. He too hopes to have full tenure one day.

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