Copyright 2007 Anthony Asael — Art in All of Us

7 Reasons I Don’t Go to Class

It is not like good classes and bad classes — All Classes Are Boring #ACAB

Starting my second term in my Social Sciences degree, I took the decision to miss as many classes as I can. This thought has been roaming around in my mind all through the first term but never evolved to action because of the emotional barrier of liking my classmates and hoping success for my faculty.

Here is why I am taking that decision now:

1. Classes are easy — and hence harmful

One Sunday before an economics class of mine, I spent five hours of an early morning struggling with the pre-work of my Monday class. The materials were quite challenging and I had to google every single term to understand what is going on. Eventually, I get it.

The day after, I walk into class only to find that class was meant to help me through what I had stumbled upon and I spend the entire two and a half hours watching people asking questions that I had asked myself and answered the day before.

Little by little I found myself getting lazier with pre-work — telling myself that “I will understand it in class, anyways.”

I skipped the struggle; and also the learning.

2. I am a morning person

Our classes happen everyday between 9:00 and 13:00 — aka the peak of my productivity. This is the time when it is calm and peaceful enough that I can sit myself down and get stuff done.

But then classes come and consume all my morning energy leaving me to the mediocrity of working at night when the noise is unpredictable and distractions are at max.

Regardless of your creativity schedule, classes would most likely mess up with your day. Night owls as well struggle with waking up early everyday — only to get what?


The next three reason can be understood in light of two variables: how well I read the materials and how well my peers read them.

The ideal case of continuously having a good discussion is a mere aspiration that rarely happens when you are amongst 30 people in class. For the sake of simplification, here is what happens in the three other scenarios:

3. It is not fair for my peers

It happens. I have a bad day or a heavy schedule and I don’t manage to go through the pre-work thoughtfully. My peers do, though.

Now I am in class, not getting what is going around, and can do one of two things: either keep asking questions and make them wait for me to escalate so as to start having an inclusive good discussion; or choose to preserve my relationship with them as well as my self esteem and sit in the corner.

In both cases, it is not fair for them. They neither have to educate me nor should feel bad for my alienation.

4. It is not fair for me

The materials are lit and I am looking forward to class. Guess what, some of my peers are in the position I was in just in the previous point. I now have to step down and wait for them to get what is going on or else I would be dominant, arrogant, and selfish.

I have one of two options now: either try to explain stuff to them; or, as a response to getting shut up by my equality-seeking faculty, check my email till they start the good discussion I came for — if they ever do.

In both cases it is not fair for me. Although the idea of peer teaching sounds sexy, it is not my job to teach nor it is part of my growth goals to get good at it. The noisy environment of class is not the best place to check my email as well.

5. Faculty tend to lecture

They just have to. I, as well as my peers, came to class without engaging with the materials as thoughtfully. We still have the time and space so why not use those to get fed some cool ideas by our knowledgeable facilitators?

Inasmuch as it is an important skill to have the sufficient attention to engage with long arguments, I don’t feel comfortable when the voice of my faculty takes over in my mind. I call it oppression. Well-intentioned? How do we know that widely-agreed upon oppressors were ill-intentioned?


6. It is not logistically possible for a class to be good

A class consumes two and a half hours of the time of each student — that is 80 hours for the entire class. Imagine what could have been accomplished in 80 hours of individual work.

Even with the two and a half hours, I always can achieve more learning on my own in that amount of time. Humans read faster than they listen or speak. They think even faster. Reading books or checking online forums on the subject being discussed in class can definitely replace whatever value I may attain from class. Meditation works even better.

Let alone the fact that I can control the pace and direction of my reading but not those of my peers’ speech.

7. The space is not safe

The straw that broke the camel’s back. I kept going to class last term just not to let my peers or my faculty down. With time going on in any relationship, though, people get hurt.

While as it is easy in a relationship of two people to voice out each partner’s frustrations, a relationship of thirty people (that is 870 two people relationships) would always create more issues than it ever manages to resolve.

It would take some students more time to get hurt than others (depending on how many privileges each has) but the high frequency and extensiveness of classes promise an eventual dramatic end.

What do we do then?

Individual one-on-ones. Just giving one person your undivided attention and getting theirs. Those are easier to manage, more personal, and more intimate. Posters and online platforms as well are great for communicating updates and having extensive discussions.

Either in the real world or in education, kindly think twice before gathering many people in the same place at the same time to do the same activity.

For Social Scientists, Educationalists, pedagogues, and geeks

They do not trust us. Educators believe in our normlessness. They think that unless they see us doing activities associated with learning, we are stagnant. Classes are no more than a way to hold us accountable to the industrial goals schools aim to fulfill. They are like production supervisors making sure the production line is going according to plan. Schools and universities are indeed “the world religion of a modernized proletariat” (Ivan Illich 1976, p.6 of 49). The word “Indoctrinate” that is widely used to describe activities held in the dark ages’ church was actually first used in the 17th century to mean nothing but ‘teach’(Merriam-Webster n.d.). Classes are an epitome of the survival of inequality in the third millennia. Exactly like in a church, you will find a faculty who is presumably more knowledgeable patronizing the others and directing them towards certain political goals. They may call themselves facilitators instead of teachers in an attempt to launder their industry — exactly the same way they moved to “teach” from “indoctrinate.” At the end of the day, they share the same philosophy of oppressive patronization: they decide on what we learn, how we learn it, how, when, and how fast. They might provide you with a limited set of options in your degree or dissertation, and they might succeed in making you feel like you possess your learning by the plenitude of options they allow you, but would choosing from a pre-defined set of many count as independence?

Humanity has gone a far way in its liberation from its very own desire to dominate and oppress. Yet, as long as we have revulsion to looking at educators as oppressors; as long as we fail to see the commonalities between educators and colonizers; as long as we refuse to admit the linkages between high student suicide rates (Anthony Seldon 2013) and the very basic premise of modern education, all our attempts towards liberation are mere reproduction of the structures we claim to be fighting.


References:

  1. Anthony Seldon, 2013. Higher Education: Why do so many students commit suicide? The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/higher-education-why-do-so-many-students-commit-suicide-8522843.html [Accessed April 9, 2017].
  2. Ivan Illich, 1976. Deschooling society, C N — 370.1 18 British Library HMNTS X.519/25435 British Library HMNTS X.529/65901.
  3. Merriam-Webster, Definition of Indoctrinate. Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/indoctrinate [Accessed May 24, 2017a].