Maybe class readings really are to learn

Unlike some, I have been looking forward to going back to school for weeks. Not even just for seeing friends who have been away all summer, but for the classes themselves.

This summer, I had an office job which I was told would be good preparation for the real world someday. By the end of the summer, it was beginning to feel monotonous. I couldn’t wait for new subjects and the occasional hour of free time outside.

I went into my first class only to be unpleasantly reminded why I sometimes complain so much about Tech. As my class filed in the door, we were handed the course syllabus. It was seventeen pages long.

A cursory glance through the syllabus only intensified the vague stress that was already starting to build for the semester. The required book list had seven listed titles. That was in addition to eleven required readings online and two videos, not to mention the three suggested books and list of other recommended selections.

I had to contain my urge to raise my hand and ask, “Are you joking?”

As I continued flipping through the syllabus, I came across a footnote about the reading list. In bold the warning read, “Do not squander your university education. Do the readings.” Squander it?

I was intrigued, so I read more of the note.

The syllabus went on to laud the merits of the authors that shaped the society of today. It spoke of the great opportunity that we as university students have to learn about classic philosophies and the thoughts of men and women who helped create the way our world operates.

While the readings would be esoteric and take a significant time commitment, they genuinely enrich the lives of students who take the time to absorb their teachings, so claimed the syllabus.

I had never thought of class readings that way before. Sure, I had always considered some class readings interesting and occasionally really enjoyed a passage or book assigned, but for the most part, I considered the plethora of readings assigned to be a bit of a chore, or yet another bullet on my to-do list.

Surely you can learn just as much in class, right?

However, the professor had a point: if we are going to be here at Tech for four (or five or six) years, shouldn’t we come out enriched by the experience? Shouldn’t we at least attempt to make every class worth our time and tuition?

I have already been guilty of sliding through a class or two, skimming the readings before the test and sometimes Facebooking during lecture instead of listening.

Let’s not even mention the times I have slept through an early morning class with no remorse. What if instead of dreading the readings and putting them off until the last minute, I actually considered them the privilege the syllabus labeled them?

Sure, considering every new chance to learn a great blessing may be idealistic, but if we can’t be idealistic during college, then when? I know I would hate to look back at the end of the semester and not be able to name a single thing about a class that was really worth thinking about.

This semester, I am going to try my hardest to make every reading worth my time. However, I’m sure at some point that I will favor going to bed before 3 a.m. instead of finishing the workload of the day before.

At some point, I’ll skim an article instead of giving it the time it deserves, but if I can start the semester with every intention of taking advantage of the assignments, maybe they will really mean something.

If nothing else, hopefully it’ll earn me good grades.

I challenge each of you to make the same goal. Not necessarily to view every assignment as a chance to learn and not just another task to fill up your day, but at least to keep your mind open to learning. It may or may not happen, but I imagine that it will at least make for a rosier outlook on life.

Just think of how much less we would have to complain about if we actually enjoyed all the assignments that keep us so busy here at Tech. I know a majority of us will be losing a significant hobby, but perhaps this is for the better.

So dread your assignments or treasure them. Ultimately it is your choice. But I choose optimism. It makes for a much more pleasant day.