If I didn’t think I would lose all credibility as a responsible parent, I might have rousted my children from their beds last night and asked them to help me with my homework.
As it was, I seriously considered it.
I am a student again. For three days now, 12 hours in all, and I can say with certainty that I don’t remember ever concentrating so hard when I was an actual college student. I also don’t remember ever being so hungry in school.
I am currently taking a faculty class in preparation for teaching the type of multi-media techniques and technology now required of journalism students. Though I am pleased to report that I am picking up new skills and knowledge in “visual storytelling,” as the course is called, I am also quite confident that any students I may have in the future, possessed more technical ability when they were toddlers than I do now.
It’s the same with every generation. My parents marveled at my aptitude in operating a microwave oven; I watch my kids download their iPods and think they’re geniuses. My nephew Daniel is 16 and if he printed up a few business cards could quit school tomorrow and support the entire family by charging for the kind of video montages that put the pros to shame.
Like me heating up Stouffer’s Lean Cuisines all those years ago, it simply comes naturally to kids to perform complex computer tricks. When our son Alec was two, he once toddled up to our computer, logged onto the Internet and was e-mailing Japan when we walked in.
OK, just kidding about Japan. But he was doing something neither his father nor I understood.
But the computer part is really only a fraction of the adjustment I have been undergoing this week.
Apparently, since I graduated from college, students are now allowed and even encouraged to eat in class. And not just eat. In my class which, remember, is for faculty, eating is part of the curriculum. For those of you in the Chicago area, I’ve seen less food at Ravinia. All that’s missing are tablecloths and candlesticks. I’m waiting for the wine.
Today, we had a delightful spread of Cheezits, pretzels and cookies. I saw people with full meals. Salads, sandwiches, fruit, mysterious packages wrapped in aluminum foil and a wide assortment of breakfast bars.
As for me, I was hoarding peanuts, a banana and two strawberry Nutri-grain bars in my purse. I didn’t know it was family style.
On the first day, I brought nothing and couldn’t have been more humiliated. After class, I headed straight to Dominick’s to stock up on supplies for the next day. I am currently planning for next week’s classes and thinking hummus and pita chips, perhaps a nice fondue.
Am I the only one who remembers when gum was discouraged?
When I asked one of my classmates about this practice of chowing down in the classroom, she looked at me as if I was hauling around an electric typewriter and a hotpot. Evidently, students today cannot possibly be expected to make it through a three-hour class without nourishment. Our class is four hours long and I am currently still on our five-minute break.
I tried explaining this to my husband Rick with a certain righteousness about the whole thing, when he quietly pointed out that there are cultures all over the world in which people survive and even thrive for four hours at a time without snacks.
Hopefully, I will learn a lot from this course. I already feel smarter. And maybe by the time I face my first class next quarter, I will be able to button my pants again.