Friday, June 18, 2010

Write About What You Know

I often look back at all those classes we had to take in school and at university and wonder..what do I recall from them. Yes, I learned a bit throughout my education, but the majority we learn by doing or through least I do. And yes, there were all those art and culture classes for enrichment as well. I must be so well rounded :-) I joke, but really I'm grateful for all of them.

This morning I was listening to a local talk radio program - Dubai Eye - while I was out running some errands. (I think they have an internet feed for those interested.) They have a Saturday morning program that discusses books which is kind of nice sometimes. This morning they made reference to a poem from British Literature that I didn't even think I knew, but since I took two classes of Brit Lit to meet my cultural literature requirements at school, apparently I did vaguely - and I mean vaguely - remember. I was amazed it was still in the cobwebs of my brain because I have not thought about it since then!

What I recall most about anything from British Literature is the instructor. I took Brit Lit at a local community college in summer school while I worked - like a lot of people did. It was cheaper and in theory people thought it was easier, but that was not always the case.

Honestly, some of the best instruction I ever had in even the driest of subjects was at that school. For example, Steven Pitts, where ever he is totally rocked economics and I actually learned and enjoyed his lectures! He was finishing a PhD at the same time and I really hope he ended up with some super high position somewhere because he gave so much..I digress...

I had two semesters with the same instructor for Brit Lit. I don't recall much except fighting my way through the likes of Beowulf, Cantebury Tales, Sir Gallant and the Green Knight. There should be a class in Old English first! While I probably don't recall much of the content of a lot of these, I do recall that I found this man very entertaining and he reminded me very much of the late Irish actor Richard Harris.

The one thing that I appreciated the most and share often is his anecdote he told us when everyone was very stressed about writing essays for the final exam. "Don't worry too much", was his advice. "Write what you know".

He proceeded to tell us about about what I recall was a theology literature class or something of the like he had to take back when he was at university. This was one of those classes everyone had to take. It was a very boring class, but no one minded because it was very predictable and a sure thing. There were no regular exams or homework, but just an essay at the end of the semester and every year the question was the same. It has been for years. Forgive me that I am not religious to recall it, but it was something to do with tracing the journey of the Apostle Paul at some point in time and discussing something literature-like in relation to this.

The particular year he took the class the professor got quite ill and ended up in the hospital. Some students didn't even know because they had not been coming to class at all. A few others only showed up on occasion.

Since there was a different professor that year, come final day the exam question was not the same. As you can imagine, there were a lot of simultaneous "Oh shit" moments in that room. They were asked to write a critique of a particular speech that Jesus made. Crickets chirping, people looking around the room. Only one guy was writing like crazy.

The next week, exam papers come back and there were a lot C's and D's. Only one A. It was the guy who was writing like mad. How could this be? He never came to the class at all the entire semester!

After class, he asked the guy if he could read his essay. And the first sentence read... "While some may choose to critique the Word of our Lord, Jesus Christ, I will write about the journey of Paul through....etc, etc, etc".

While the instructor was sick in the hospital, he graded the essays from his bed.

So the morale of the story, "Write about what you know".

That my friends was one of the most impressionable and hysterical lectures I ever received throughout my education.

1 comment:

Sew Pretty Dresses said...

That is awesome! College profs must have the best times! Clearly this one had the best story!