Take some time away from class to chill

Edward Leonard

As I’m writing this, the weather is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a pristine fall day, with just the right temperature — not too cold but all the oppressive summer heat is gone. It’s bright and sunshiny. I walk across Central Campus and there’s a cute couple cuddling on the grass, someone taking a nap a few yards away and off in the distance, a group of guys playing with a Frisbee. Life is beautiful.

But as I’m writing this, enjoying Central Campus, there’s also something I’m not doing. I am not in class.

Now on this particular occasion, I’m not in class because I just took a test and got out early. But this is nothing new.

As college students, we feel obligated to be in class all the time. We scurry back and forth all over campus desperate to not miss an ounce of valuable lecture, so we can take our test in three weeks and get a good grade.

But why? It seems counterproductive to me. This mentality can be really stressful. You’re constantly worried about where to be, what to do and how to get there. And you’re missing the Frisbee.

When I go to class, I look around the lecture hall and I see a few hundred people. Of these people, maybe 25 are being generally awesome with the Iowa State Daily in hand. I can only assume these people are hanging on every word of my latest column.

Then, sitting in back, I see a bunch of people with their laptops open. Taking notes? No. They’re almost all on Facebook or checking the latest XKCD. Those with their notebooks open have a few bullet points surrounded by intricate and detailed doodles, and there are always a few students who have been completely lost and have decided to use the lecture as a nap time.

In spite of all of this, the professor will drone on about thermodynamics or philosophy or political science, whatever the case may be, and go through their PowerPoint slides, reading them word for word. Chances are these slides are online and readily available to students, right next to the online homework over the same material. It’s much easier on the professor when the Internet grades the homework for them, so there’s very little written homework anymore.

Now, there are exceptions to this generally accepted model of modern teaching. There are always a few professors who take attendance, or actually have you do written homework or, god forbid, encourage classroom discussion, but these are pretty few and far between.

So, what does this mean? I’m not advocating skipping class. OK, maybe I am, but it’s a balance. Sometimes class is a good idea — quiz days, exam days for sure, or when you’re behind. But we are college students. Our brains are constantly stretched, strangled and suffocated. We have jobs, classes, clubs and social lives all to balance. Sometimes it’s not just nice, but necessary to take an hour or two off.

So go to Central Campus, or the hub, or even back to your room to take a nap. Go take some time to relax and recharge your batteries. It’s good for you, I promise.

By the time I’ve gotten to this paragraph, about a half-hour has gone by, and my schedule says I should be in a lecture. I know that if I go to this lecture my professor will go through three or four practice problems, and maybe go through a proof about how momentum and impulse work. To his credit, he’ll go through this problem on the blackboard and show all the steps, but I know that if I go, I’m not going to pay attention. My brain will still be tired from my test earlier, and I’ll probably end up in one of the categories of students I mentioned earlier — I haven’t done any good doodling in a few days.

So instead, I’m here on Central Campus, in the sunlight, with my iced mocha. It’s delicious, comfortable and I’m totally relaxed. I know I only have another few weeks of this good weather, so I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

So who’s with me? I’ll bring the Frisbee.