Venting and Reasoning

Remember in the “About” page of this blog when I said that a lot of my stories about school are more like venting sessions?  You’re about to read the first one for this blog.  For those of you who haven’t seen me in a while and want to know how school is going, here’s your update.

For the last month or so, I’ve been lucky to get six hours of sleep each night.  For the past week or two, it’s been more like five hours.  It’s killing me.  I can’t think straight about anything.  I’m not alert in my classes.  I can’t pick up on steps or combinations in ballet class to save my life, much less remember them for the next class.  I usually have some time to catch up on lost sleep over the weekend, but it never seems like enough.  Last night as I laid down in bed, I felt slightly nauseous just because of how sleep-deprived and physically exhausted I’ve been.  I got a full night’s sleep, but apparently, it wasn’t enough.  I fell asleep for over an hour while doing (read: trying to do) my homework this afternoon.  The nap felt amazing was very much needed, but it also means that I don’t get to check off all the items on my to-do list, particularly my “homework to do” list.  As such, it only means that another draining week is around the corner.  It’s a vicious cycle to which I see no end in sight.  I hate it.

It wouldn’t be quite as bad if I was getting something out of my classes, but I’m not.  Let me clear when I say that none of this is the fault of my professors.  It’s just the way the classes are designed, in combination with my somewhat unusual academic circumstances.

Ballet is a good class, and I have a good teacher, but I don’t have any energy to give to it while I’m there, and I’m really burned out.  I know that there’s a lot to learn in this class, but I’m not picking up on much of it at all because of my constant sleep-deprived state.  Dance is not fun at all in this situation.

Methods of Teaching a Specialty Subject is a repeat of Analysis of Teaching and Learning Behavior, the class I took last summer.  I already understand most, if not all, of what is being taught, so I’m not learning anything new.  Yet, it has written homework every week, so I must put forth the effort, even though I’m not learning anything.  Waste. Of. Valuable. Time.  The only bright spot in this class is the independent study portion of this class with my ballet teacher.  At least I’m getting something out of that.

Educational Research is one of the most demanding classes I’ve ever taken.  Like Methods, it’s also a class in which I’m not learning anything, which is frustrating because of its work load.  Honestly, it will be a miracle if I get a “C” in the class.  At this point, it’s all I want.  Well, that and my sanity.  I want that back.

So, I did some thinking.  I followed some advice a very dear friend gave me about a month ago as I vented my school and non-school stressors (I’m saving those for another blog post) to her via Facebook messaging.

I quit trying to find time to practice dance outside of class.  I don’t have the energy for it, and there’s no sense in burning myself out even further until I start to love it again.

As far as schoolwork goes, for the time being, I’ve quit striving for perfection and decided to only do the bare minimum necessary for graduation.  I have absolutely no regrets about this decision.  I’d much rather spend the time pursuing neglected interests, educating myself about the world around me outside of school, and bonding with people that matter to me.  In the end, all of that is way more important than a letter grade.

This situation has shown me that I’m still living by my personal philosophy about education that I developed in high school.  As a teacher in the making, I don’t know if this is the best philosophy to have or if many people will accept it, much less agree with it, but I’m not apologizing for it.

Grades are important, but in the end, grades are just letters on a transcript.  To paraphrase my favorite Spanish teacher (and one of the best teachers of all time, in my opinion), getting a “B” in Spanish class while still knowing how to speak it fluently will go much farther than someone turned in all of the bookwork, got an “A”, but still can’t speak it fluently.  His point was that we should still do our very best, but if for some reason our very best doesn’t produce an “A”, there’s more to the class than that.  It’s not the ultimate goal.  Learning and applying the knowledge to our lives is the goal.

Despite my desire to earn the title of “honor student” in high school and college, I never was one and was never meant to be one.  Granted, I made the honor roll in high school a few times, and the Dean’s List at LU a few times, and I usually came close the times that I didn’t make it, but I didn’t graduate from either place with honors.

In high school, while many of my peers were choosing their classes based on what would get them accepted into a good college, I chose as many classes in my favorite subjects as I could and took very few honors classes.  (With the exception of honors English, which I only did for one semester, taking honors classes was not something I ever wanted to do in the first place.)  My short experience in honors classes my freshman year showed me that as far as what students learn at either level, there isn’t much difference; only the workload was different.  (In hindsight, I think I can see the point to a select few of those extra assignments, but the overall stress from an honors class wasn’t worth it.)  I took the bare minimum of core academic subjects to graduate because I knew that I was going to a community college after high school.  Standards of entrance there weren’t nearly as high there as they are a four-year school, so during my senior year I took art, show choir, instrumental music, and symphonic band all year, plus one semester of theatre appreciation and one semester of creative writing.  Before senior year, I was blessed to take either Treble Choir or show choir, and concert band (or instrumental music) every semester, as well as art for a full year.  I made the arts high priorities in high school because I loved them (and still do), and because I knew that once I got to college, there wouldn’t be as much time in my schedule for them.  I also saw no reason in taking more classes than necessary in science, history, math, etc. because I’d have to study those same subjects over again in a few short years to fulfill gen ed requirements in college.

According to my transcripts, I’m an average student, but sometimes I feel like I learned more and have been exposed to more than some of my honor student peers.

I don’t mean to knock anybody’s academic achievements.  It takes a lot of work and effort to earn that recognition, and I sincerely applaud and sometimes envy those who graduate with honors and really high GPAs.  (I suppose the envy hits once in a while because even though I didn’t graduate from LU with honors, I came very close.)  I’m just saying that I don’t beat myself up over it too much because I’m happy with most of the educational choices I’ve made.

That being said, I’m trying not to make any bad decisions in my last semester as I try to sort out which assignments take priority and which ones don’t.  Two of these assignments are worth a lot of points, and even though I’m not learning anything in Methods (except for the independent study) or Ed Research, I don’t want to blow them off to the point that my grades are so low that I don’t graduate.  My grades aren’t that bad (I can probably still pull off an “A” in Methods), but last week I reached the point that I was ready to completely quit school and didn’t care whether or not I graduated or did student teaching.  I am still that frustrated and overwhelmed.

If you think about it, please say a little prayer that I finish strong this semester.  Not just with decent grades, but with my sanity intact.  I want to get organized.  I want to be happy again.  I want to give the people I love–in Missouri and Illinois–the best I have, and I feel bad that I haven’t been able to do that.  Feel free to leave any comments of advice, suggestions, or threats of what you might do to me if I slack off too much or throw in the towel. 🙂

I feel a little bit better now that I’ve vented.  Thanks for reading.

2 thoughts on “Venting and Reasoning

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