Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Perspectives on Leisure - Update

This is my final semester as an undergraduate. By the time the end of May rolls around, I will have completed another 15 units of higher education. However, I only need nine units (three of five courses) to graduate. Two are optional; one of them, Magazine Writing (JOUR-132), is within my major and another, Basic Techniques of Photography (PHOT 040), is very closely related. Of the three that are required, two are journalism classes. The remaining class is one that has thrown me for a loop. I’m usually pretty clear on how I feel on matters of principle, but this time - not so much.

There is a graduation requirement that I don’t quite understand. I know why it came to be, I know what its intended purpose is and I even agree that it perhaps has some merit - for some. The “writing intensive” course requirement simply means that to graduate, each student must take a course designated as “writing intensive.” Many departments, some somewhat unexpected, have them. Ironically enough, there are no journalism courses designated as “writing intensive.”

I knew about the requirement when I enrolled at Sacramento State. I was not too concerned, however, because I am a journalism major… government-journalism to be precise. I simply assumed that at least one of the classes in my major would be so designated. In fact, I figured most of them would be. Imagine my surprise when filling out my degree application. Add one more class to the spring schedule. Ok, fine - there was no way to wiggle out of the requirement, or if there was, it sure wasn’t worth the trouble. I’d just take the stupid class and be done. My selection…

Perspectives on Leisure (RLS 122); what could be easier? I figured if I were going to be forced to take a course that is intended to assure I have a rudimentary grasp of written English, I would take a class I could “phone in.” But I sure wasn’t going to like it. Perspectives on leisure sounds relaxing. My brief, unofficial, unscientific - and as it turned out - inaccurate research indicated that it would be a cakewalk. It meets once a week for two and one half hours. At two weeks in, I have invested five hours towards this required course.

I went into it with a resentment. I don’t feel that certain majors that are by their very nature “writing intensive” should be required to attend such a “menial” class. Did you sense the air of elitism? It was not by accident, that’s how I felt going into it. Although I know better than to outwardly display my disgust, I also know that I wasn’t going to like this class. Not one bit. I would just endure it damn it! I’d show them.

Imagine my surprise and dismay when I found myself leaving campus this evening with a smile on my face. I wasn’t supposed to like this class - it was supposed to be a waste of my time. One thing that I have learned through long and often painful experience is that if I’m having a good time, I might as well enjoy it. Sure, this class won’t tax my writing ability. In that respect I can put it on cruise control, but this class has a good deal of energy that I never expected.

The instructor has this infectious playfulness about him. I could only resist for so long. Besides the emphasis on writing simple and grammatically correct prose, the class has much to do with human interaction. There is a huge “activity” component. This evening we went into the aerobics gym and played these really, really stupid games. They’re of the icebreaker variety - the kind that are designed to break down interpersonal barriers and get people to interact with each other. I was just juvenile… I wanted to hate it. But I did it and actually found myself laughing, cheering on my group and genuinely having a good time.

So I stand corrected - sort of. I still maintain that if the intent is to guarantee a minimal level of writing proficiency, then some courses of study ought to be exempt. However, if the intent is to broaden the educational experience, then so be it. But call it something else… call it the “interacting intensive” requirement. For my part, I guess I’ll just try not to be so rigid and serious. After all, this is my last semester.

21 comments:

Jennifer said...

Have you forgotten how to play? I would LOVE a class like that :) I hope you have an awesome last semester... :)

kenju said...

It all boils down to attitude, doesn't it? I'm glad the class changed yours. It sounds like great fun to me.

Anna said...

I like how you did the Staind video! Nice addition to your page.

I love that you are experiencing unexpected pleasures...that is a wonderful blessing and makes life more joyful!

Have fun this semester!

Wordnerd said...

See there? Let down your guard and have a little fun! You've earned it. I'm thinking everyone needs a class like that!

utenzi said...

Hi Mike. Michele sent me over.

I was a science major in undergrad days and that meant I had required classes all morning and afternoon labs--not much open time to fit in those liberal arts courses that they also required. So I was kinda forced into taking a philosophy class 'cause nothing else fit my schedule.

Well, the professor was one of the best I've ever had and I ended up graduating as a double major with philosophy in the back seat--and a few years later I went back and got an MA in philosophy also. And all that happened just because that was the only course I could take that first semester and the professor was great.

Life can lead down some unexpected roads.

Carmi said...

Sounds like you're sucking the most possible value out of the experience, Mike. I wish all students got it as you so clearly do.

Education to me has always been about opening up one's mind to the possibilities that the world offers. This entry stands as testament to that.

Veda said...

I find most things people insist on my doing in order to "earn the grade" (not in classes just now) tends to come out as a great learning experience, none the less. Then again, I do my best to learn from just about every experience, so there's that...

Here via Michele's. :)

Snaggle Tooth said...

How rare are moments expected to be tortutous turning into terrific fun?!
Amazing that any group of strangers sharing a common experience can quickly become effectively bonded teams.

Reminds me of a "retreat" experience my mother sent me to in HS, with trust games featuring blind-folded "warm/cold" prompting n falling back/being caught- demonstrating that there are times we can even trust strangers.
I've found more luck trusting well-meaning passers-by than some family members...

Enjoy whatever you can- Now I wonder if you have to write about it...?

Bob-kat said...

Isn't it nice when your expectations aren't met on occasions like this? My parents taught me that you only get out of something, that which you put in so I think your plan to get the most from the experience is great. It menas that attending this class won't be a waste of time.

Here from Michele's.

Pat said...

That's a heart warming story and big of you to admit that you misjudges it. Personally I think your writing is smashing!
Michele saya Hi!

Oracle said...

It is often niced to be suprised by an enjoyable experience in more ways than one ;)

Here via Michele's as you have probably guessed ;)

How are you well I hope ?

Dave said...

Here from Michele's and glad to have visited! I'll be back.

mar said...

Enjoy your last semester! I would love to go back to school...I finished with a business degree but I'd love to do something completely different...Michele sent me your way :)

Becky68 said...

That's really great that you're enjoying yourself after all, I always think I would have enjoyed college (or school for that matter, my mother homeschooled & so I have had no 'formal' education at all)
Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier.

Princess said...

Hi! I am here from Micheles.
I hope you are having a great weekend.
I wish i had your dedication when it comes to work. I always started my studies, and never finished them! so good for you!

Yaeli said...

Pleased to hear you're enjoying your final undergraduate semester! As someone who has (finally) just finished a degree I understand your excitement going into your final semester. And liking the subject that you thought you'd hate... That's an added bonus!
Michele sent me.

Paste said...

Popped by this morning from Michele's, have a great weekend.

rashbre said...

I like that game when you have to stick labels of famous people on one anothers' backs and then guess what the labels say through yes/no questions.

A great icebreaker and totally silly.

Here today via Michele!

rashbre

Janejill said...

hi - Michelle sent me; I do wish I could have just a little bit of your commitment; I have never finished anything in my life - appart from a few sweaters .... is your 25 year plan starting now? If so, then i suppose there is still hope for me; good luck in your course

indigo said...

Now that sounds like fun class. But just wondering what Perspectives on Leisure is all about...and is that 'writing intensive'?

Sometimes classes like these take us out of our comfort zone. I had my fair share of those in college too. And they all turned out to be great fun.

Here from Michelle's again...Ola again!!

Paste said...

Hedre I am again from Michele's.