Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Academic confessions of a disorganized mind:

I'm a terrible student. Most people I tell don't believe me when I tell them. I'm amused by that reaction - I say "I'm probably not going to pass any of my classes this term, except perhaps one," and the typical response I get from friends, family is something to the effect of "Sure you will. Just stop worrying so much." Now, most people really do worry about their grades too much, I think, allow the stresses of due dates and papers and such to overcome them, but do fine at the end. Not me. I mean it.

I've always been a terrible student, and it makes me feel a lot of nasty things about myself much of the time. It's quite ironic, I think, because I love learning and academia -- adore it. Almost any academic subject in existence fascinates me, but that's part of the problem, I suppose: A genuine interest in nearly everything and a 'pure' desire to learn means that focusing to produce required coursework is a challenge, to say the least.

But recently, I realized that it's worse than I thought. I have a research paper due in my Economics of Third World Development course, and I have yet to start on it. As I considered it, I tried to remember what I had done in the past that did work; maybe I could come up with something. Nothing. In fact, I have never written a research paper. Last term, one of my favourite classes was Economics of Multinational Enterprise. The class grade was based chiefly on a two-part mid-term exam, a final exam, and a small research presentation. The presentation was only about five pages, written about a relevant subject of your choosing. It was an easy thing. It wasn't required that you take a position, or perform any analysis; the assignment was just writing a brief explanation of the history of a transnational corporation. I got A's on both parts of the midterm, and on the final. The research project should've been simple, and I had the entire term to produce it. I tried, but failed. Not as in I wrote something bad -- I've never had the ability to do that -- rather, I wrote nothing at all. I selected a topic, performed some research on it, and then froze. Nothing. I ended up with an 'incomplete' in the course.

In a few other classes, I've been assigned essays requiring research, but not once have I done it. I've either dropped the class, not passed it, or found some way to receive credit without completing the assignment. I have no idea how that works. In classes where the grade is based on examination, I excel consistently. Readings, lecture, tests: conventional stuff, and I master them all. But get me something where I need to produce out of the classroom, and it all goes to hell.

It's not as if I don't want to, but I have never managed to get it taken care of. It's so built up now, it's ridiculous. Certainly, all of this is 'in my head,' but so am I, see?

This applies as well to things that I want to do for my own benefit, unrelated to class. I enjoy writing quite a bit; I have a large backlog of stories and essays in my mind that I'd love to write. But, even when I had the idea of submitting a few pieces to a campus publication, I didn't manage to actually get them out there. It's pretty darned silly. I get really upset about it, sometimes.

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