Burning Quick and Loving it
August 28, 2008

by pegleghippie

Classes are hard.  And I mean harder than they’ve been in the past.  All of my time has been devoted to class related activities for the last few days, and when I take a break to do something else, I fall behind.  That’s right, its the first week and I’m already behind.

At the same time, this may be the most enjoyable combination of classes that I’ve ever had.  Four of my five classes pertain to either my major or one of my minors, and I think all four of those are going to be memorable and exciting.  The fifth (economics) isn’t too bad either–I like the professor, I’m interested in the subject matter, and comparatively, it’s my easy class.

I transfered out of a useless public speaking class and into a government class taught by one of my Switzerland professors.  It’s about peace and conflict.  A friend of mine at another school is majoring in conflict resolution, but my school doesn’t offer that, and I figured this class would be the closest I could get. So far it’s involved examinations of how peacekeeping efforts can minimize unpleasant cultural side effects.  That means it’s 30 people discussing how to be peaceful.  It’s classes like this that make me feel like I’m at home in a classroom.

Leadership inspires a lot of what I blog about, and I have two leadership classes this semester.  One has been transformed from it’s regular approach of teaching how change works socially to examining the presidential race (you know, cause change is Obama’s slogan).  The other is on the history of leadership.  So both are about examining politicians and what they did.  Hopefully we still work in lots of leadership theory and methods.

Then I’ve got a class on postmodernist philosophy.  I like it so far, I’m beginning to understand what postmodernism really is (hint:  it’s antifoundationalism).  The class isn’t run like any other class I’ve ever seen.  For the first time ever, I am absolutely sure that psychadelic drugs will improve my work greatly in a class.  They’ll also make it fun as hell, but it’s not the first time that has happened.

So yeah, if I can control all that, all i’ve gotta do is balance in two (maybe three) clubs, a part time job, and being an SGA senator.  Free time and sleep is for underachievers anyway.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I got up this early so I could study (2 chapters of leadership and 3 journal articles in pomo catches me up to today’s assignments.)

To Cheat or Not To Cheat: There is no question.
May 5, 2008

Stress compounds stress. The motto of advanced education, the motto of undergraduate life. The motto of the workplace and the motto of relationships. Stress, stress, stress. It’s all we’ve got these days, holding tightly to it like the cold side of the pillow. And, from the college student standpoint, stress is the biggest factor in my unhealthiness, my general bitterness, you know the drill.

What attributes to this stress the most? For me, I’d say classload. I’m a music major as you probably guessed, and that means Music Theory. It’s like learning a universal language, it’s insane. Music theory is a big ol’ class load. But on top of that is the infamous music literature, where we’re required to learn about all the composers in all the genres and all the periods of time ranging from Gregorian chant to bluegrass and the British Invasion. And to be honest, I can’t memorize all those names and dates. It’s impossible, especially on top of Music Theory.

What’s the solution? I cheat. I cheat efficiently and very well. I can’t tell you damnit about the classical period. But I guarantee one thing; if you ask me a question, I can find the answer.

I think that’s the problem with our education system in general today. They want us to memorize, regurgitate, and, inevitably, forget. It’s about as useful as eating, come to think of it. (Wait, this might be counter-intuitive…)

Knowing full well you can’t accomplish anything from outside the system, I keep my cheating to a minimum. I don’t want to get caught and thrown out and disregarded for life. I want to change the system. Because I believe it’s inherently better to teach this way;

  • Teach students to use other students. We emphasize the competitive testing and entrance portion of secondary education, and that sets students against each other. We stop realizing that the biggest resource people have are people.
  • Teach students not to memorize and regurgitate, but be able to FIND information on a spontaneous basis. Instead of vocab lists and multiple choice, I think tests should include resource databases such as the internet, and scores dependent on how well a student could find the necessary information to solve a problem.
  • Teach students to think critically. Remove the entire concept of cheating from our minds. Replace it with ingenuity. A student emails a copy of the material on a PDF file to his PDA/Phone for easy viewing. Student then hides the phone while utilizing it on test day. Student aces the test through superior use of resources.

I think it’s a the system has forced a wedge between students. A wedge of competitiveness, a wedge of masochistic integrity. It’s not really a Dog-eat-Dog world out there. When’s the last time you saw a Dog actually eating another dog? It’s a dog-eat-food world. Whatever food’s out there. And sometimes, wild dogs hunt in packs to get more food. Does the prey call that cheating? No, it’s efficiency and teamwork.

I took that test today with photographs of the test on my iPhone, and with a text-message system set-up for the ‘Listening’ portion of the test. (Where we listen to a song, and name the composer and title. Songs are picked from a list that we’re handed to study, a week before, ish.) We all got the answers together, and we aced the test. I can’t think of a better way to learn.

I think a study would actually show that students who worked this way would have better retention of data. I mean it’s already proven that over-studying causes a massive retention drop. Lack of sleep, and over-focus, both of these also hinder the learning process. I wish someone could do a study like this, to prove once and for all that… memorization and regurgitation is not learning.

That’s all… cheat on, noble cheaters.