Sunday, May 4, 2008

Finally Finals

Just some questions and thoughts I have as I immerse myself in the work I should have started a while ago:

1. I think the reason finals are so frustrating aren't because of the amount of work they entail in itself, but because of the timing. Of course they have to occur at the end of the semester, but it's like...the weather's getting nicer, classes are ending, and summer plans are being made. Who wants to sit around studying Tennyson when there's so much going on? I have my final Contemporary Art class tomorrow, but then a final for that class...a week later. Like, it's over, but it's not really over, and that just makes it all the more frustrating.

2. Whose idea was it to make finals so earlier? Why can't they just push everything back by, say, an hour? My art class usually meets at 11am. So why is the final at 10? The problem with these earlier exam times is that I don't get as much sleep as I'm used to on a weekday. Sure, I've (hopefully) studied enough beforehand, but the lost hour of sleep--coupled with staying up late the night before cramming for the exam, as I'm sure most of us do--means that I won't be at my mental peak when it's time to take the test, which strikes me as unfair and inhibitive. Why can't they just push everything back by an hour or two? I guarantee that such an action would make finals a little easier on everyone.

3. Hey, Modern American History professor, don't completely ignore the assigned readings in lecture (and, TAs, in recitation), but then make us use them on the final. Seriously? If they weren't important enough to be incorporated into the semester's lectures (of which, admittedly, I only went to a few), then why are they suddenly important enough to be cited on take-home essays? America's foreign policy failures in the twentieth century have been marked by, among other things, hypocrisy: don't adopt that as a teaching style yourself.

4. And listen, Creative Writing workshop. I like you, I really do. You help me become a better writer, and it's fun to read and critique other students' works. That said, you're a workshop. Don't meet on a Tuesday that's been designated "reading day"-- for the purposes of studying for classes that actually, you know, have finals--and expect me to show up. Sorry that by your very nature, you fall to the bottom of the academic totem pole during finals time, but you do, so deal with it gracefully and stop forcing yourself on me. Seriously, I'm not shlepping to a bar in midtown just so I can talk about half-asses stories written for the most part by seniors who are more worried about graduation than crafting a decent narrative.

5. I've said it before and I'll say it again--rote memorization doesn't do a damn thing. Me memorizing the names of a dozen obscure Latin American artists who haven't produced work since the 1980s doesn't prove that I've learned anything over the course of the semester except how to bullshit my way through undergraduate classes. All it does is detract from serious, beneficial study of major artistic trends, and, worst of all, makes me resent the entire Art History department. Plus, making 100 flashcards is a bitch.

6. To show you how ridiculous some of these assignments are: "Analyze the domestic political, economic and social impact of World War I, World War II and the Cold War. Compare these to the domestic impact of our current War on Terrorism." ...in 2-3 pages. I'm not kidding.

-Josh

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