Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Heads or Tails #4 (School)

As the father of five, with two through college, one halfway there, and two still in high school, I write about school a lot. Oh, and Long Suffering Spouse is a teacher, too.

I looked it up in preparation for today's Heads or Tails: Out of 479 posts here at Second Effort so far, 111 of them (not counting this one) have mentioned the word "school."

But, today, if you'll gather round closely, so no one else can hear, I'll tell you a story about school we don't tell at home.

I have a lot of these; I'll just give you one today. We sure didn't tell these stories while my parents were alive -- and we won't tell them at home at least until Youngest Son is safely graduated from college.

Make sure all the kids are out of the room.

Are they gone?

Well, then, here goes:

I didn't always go to class in college. I don't mean that I cut classes occasionally. I mean I once scheduled an accounting class at 8:30 so it would be over by the time I got up. (Yes, I passed.)

I took an Irish history course and I really liked the professor. He told good stories and he wrote several good books, which I actually read, and I tried to go to that class as often as I could.

Still, my classmates apparently thought my attendance sporadic: One time, apparently after a prolonged absence, I received a rather sarcastic standing ovation when I entered the room. (Yes, I passed this class, too.)

But today's story concerns an economic history course I took. The first day of class we received a syllabus. It told us everything that was going to happen in the course and when it would happen. And the professor was boring. So after sampling the class just enough times to be certain that he would stick to his script, I found other things to do during that time slot. I showed up for the midterm and got a B+.

Then, disaster struck.

I lost the syllabus.

Now, you may say, what's the big deal? Ask for another one.

But, of course, that's because we've shooed all the kids out of the room, haven't we? We all know that would be the sensible course of action.

Except that I was still a teenager then... and I did what a teenager would do.

Namely, nothing.

Oh, I fretted about the lost syllabus for awhile. I probably even looked for it. But, after not finding it, I lost interest and went on to other things.

And, suddenly, it was finals week.

At my alma mater, like most colleges as I understand it, finals are given in long time periods, and not necessarily on the day the class met ordinarily. So a Monday 8:30 class might have its final on Monday at 8:30, but a Tuesday 9:00 class might have its final on Wednesday afternoon.

So the first problem I faced was figuring out when the final would be given.

Then I realized I'd forgotten the room in which the class met.

I recall wandering up and down the corridors in this one classroom building during the assigned time, peeking in through doors, looking to see if I recognized anyone.

It must have been about halfway through the final that I found the class.

I introduced myself to the professor. He checked the class list just to be sure I was in fact enrolled.

Somehow I talked my way into an "Incomplete."

Instead of taking the final, it was agreed that I would turn in a paper on economic history. Since I had also just taken a course in macroeconomics, I had all sorts of useful formulas I could plug into such a paper. Which I turned in a couple of days later along with my textbook from the other course.

I recall the follow-up conversation vividly. I called -- as you might expect -- with a certain degree of trepidation. The professor cut me off quickly. "You didn't come to class," he said. "You didn't take the final" -- I began to silently rehearse the stories I might try on my parents -- "so I really can't give you an A."

For once, I managed to keep my mouth shut. I took my B and was grateful.

Still am.

And -- please -- don't tell the kids.


Rambler said...

I think you were really lucky :)

Barb said...

Why you sly dog, you! This was hilarious! I can see why you won't tell your kids.. hahaha!

Anonymous said...

oh my goodness--what a nightmare scenario!! Oh that blessed syllabus!! Can't function without it--it was my best friend in college :)

Shan said...

This is hilarious! I had a psych class that I hardly ever went to (it was one of those that had over a hundred people)...but I never went to the extreme that you did.

One day you'll tell the kids :-)

Mom Knows Everything said...

OMG that was hilarious! You must be very smart or very lucky. I loved your stories. I only cut class in college once and I called in sick because I was so scared I would get into trouble. I was a wus. :o)

Dave said...

This was a nightmare right?

I actually went to classes in college, for the most part; I even read what they told me to read, again for the most part.

I stopped that practice the last year of law school. I didn't have time to go to school. I was working as a clerk full time, writing a law review article and interviewing. School was far down on the "to do" list.

First class to go was Conflict of Laws, or in my mind "legal basket weaving 301." Taught by the lawyer for Alcee Hastings, then a Federal District Court Judge, more recently, and maybe still a member of the House of Representatives in his impeachment trial. I went twice, first and last classes. An A and the book award.

Second and third classes to go were Domestic Relations and Substantive Criminal Law, taught respectively by two ancient professors, who hadn't changed a word in twenty years. I got "the outlines," memorized both and took the finals. C+'s. How dare they.

Finally,Commercial Law 2. I actually had an interst in that class but just didn't have time to go. B+.

Don't let your kids read this comment.

Amanda said...

LOL! I've only just started reading your blog and its funny!

My best memories of university days are all the classes I skipped. My favourite skipped class was International Business. We all knew it was an open book exam and the class was at the inconvenient time of 6pm every Friday so.....Dinner and Movies were always preferable.

rdl said...

Wow, i wish i'd gone to college with you!

Andree said...

Lucky you! The school I went to had such small classes I couldn't get away with that! I remember trying to figure out how to do that, tho! Teenagers are wonderfully bold creatures.

Shelby said...

I did similar stunts.. but I'm still not telling. I'm afraid if my parents found out - they'd ground me. And I'm grown up now with kids o' my own. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

I was bad about a few courses, too.

To this day, I still dream it's finals time and I haven't shown up for the previous weeks and can't find my classes...

What would Freud think?

Mother Jones RN said...

My, my, I had no idea that you were such a wild child. If your kids only knew:-)

Patti said...

This was funny!
What a rebel. I love it.

Jeni said...

Probably because by the time I went to college I was a VERY adult returning student (normally those two words are reversed in college admissions language) - I was 46 when I started, 50 when I graduated.
The only class I truly hated -even more than the maths and natural sciences -was Micro Economics - got a freaking D in it! I changed my major too from Labor Relations to Counseling Education as a result of that as well. I didn't comprehend it then, still don't. To me, econ is if the price goes up, demand drops and if the price goes down, demand rises so how the heck can one get upteen courses on that? See, I told you I didn't and still don't understand it. Someday, you'll have to try to explain it to me in plain and simple English, if that exists in Economics.