June 2, 2005

What do you remember?

They say that you don't retain all that much of what you learn in college. I don't put stock in any studies that claim to give specific percentages of how much we remember or forget, but the general theory seems to have merit. Case in point: not only do I not remember everything I learned in college, I can't quite remember the names of all the classes I took, and I've only been out of undergrad for two years. The other day, I sat down and tried to recreate my college schedule, matching classes with the semester in which I took them. I did pretty well, but there were at least half a dozen spots where I must have taken a class, but darn if I could remember the name or the topic. If I can't even remember that I took a class, is there a chance I remember anything I learned in it?

Looking back, however, it's a certain type of class that I was having trouble recalling. Engineering classes were the easiest, as I spent them with people I knew and liked, and the professors were people I knew from other classes or just seeing them around. Also, the really horrendous classes were easy to remember for their sheer awfulness. The class (mentioned in the previous post) about sub-Saharan Africa fits in this category. The sheer mind-numbing uselessness of the class and the fact that it took place in one of those depressing classrooms in the basement of an on campus apartment building has seared the experience, if not any knowledge, into my memory. My Old Testament Literature class was another of these detriments to my well-being. The professor was utterly incompetent as well as being one of those professors you don't want to argue with because there's a good chance it will damage your grade. I will always remember the alternating looks of disgust and resignation on Shannon Scull's face in each class, as her expression matched my inner feelings. That said, it was the mediocre general education classes that slip from memory. They were neither interesting enough to look back upon fondly nor wretched enough to be memorable. It isn't like I paid attention in these classes. I got A's in almost all of them. It's just that nothing impressed itself on my mind as the sort of thing you don't forget. Perhaps it could also be because of the people in the classes. Usually a large group of people I didn't know, so there were no personal relationships present to help make the three hours per week memorable.

I seem to have recalled the important things, however, as I recall being in all my engineering classes and the math/science classes that formed their foundation. I also remember some other classes, if for no other reason than the zaniness of the professor. To finish this post off, I was in class or interacted with professors who exhibited all of the following at least once:
1. Taught with no shoes on
2. Wrote and erased the board at the same time
3. Talked like Kermit the Frog
4. Was referred to as a kid as "Dangerous Don"
5. Gave a bonus question that involved identifying all the other students in class
6. Got upset with me for suggesting we talk a little less about feminism and more about the class topic
7. Began teaching the second she got one foot in the door
8. More than once wore windpants, tennis shoes, and a tucked in polo shirt
9. Is missing some toes
10. Cannot pronounce the word "specific"
11. Made a class of at least 20 sit in a circle every day
12. Asked me if I was dyslexic
13. Didn't react at all when I inserted a sentence about my group being geniuses into a lab report
14. Told Coach Turner's wife (her workout partner) when I skipped her class one day
15. Was the only person on the whole campus who ever even once called me Andrew

That's Messiah College for you, kids.

1 comment:

Jimmy said...

I'm pretty sure I can identify a number of those profs. Let's not forget the day the guy with the wind breaker pants got into a wrestling match with a student in the middle of a lab and won!