24 July, 2008

The non-existent class project

I've heard of the recurring nightmare people have where they walk around in their underwear, or even without underwear, and no one seems to notice. If I have that dream, it recurs so rarely that I don't remember having it.

Over the last year or two, however, I have had a frequent occurrence of a nightmare with a similar theme. I arrive in a classroom where I am a student, and I realize that, either in this class or in another, I am unprepared for the impending end of the semester.

The reason varies with the specific nightmare. On one occasion I was misinformed as to the class meeting time, and was too busy with other matters to get around to obtaining the correct information until that point. By the end of the semester I have no idea what the professor is talking about, and little chance to get up to speed before the exam.

On another occasion, the professor has assigned a major project for the semester, and it is due the day that I arrive in class. Again, I was too busy with other projects, because I was enrolled in four or five graduate-level courses. I obviously have no chance at doing the assignment. Worse, the material learned by completing the project is an essential aspect of the course that I have failed to learn.

Never mind that these sorts of things never happened to me in real life—never. The really interesting consequence is that I sometimes worry during my waking moments how I will complete the soon-to-be-due project in the course that, even today, I've failed to attend.

This is no exaggeration: the very thing happened to me yesterday afternoon. I "remembered" that "soon" I have to turn in a major project for a class I'm taking, and I've done absolutely no work on it. It took me a moment to remember that I take no classes, and even in real life no major projects are approaching a due date.

As disconcerting as that was, at least I don't start to worry in real life that I'm walking around only in my underwear, even though I'm fully dressed.


Clemens said...

Weird. I have my own version, one I dream over and over. It is the first day of classes, I am in my office, and I vaguely remember that I have a class soon, like any minute. But I don't have the schedule, I don't know which class, or where and I can't find a schedule. Most of the dream is of my frantic efforts to find out where my class is, even as I watch the minutes ticking away until I know that no student will still be there. The end of the dream is usually some variation of my trying to come up with a good excuse for the dept chair as to why I missed class.

Needless to say, this has never actually happened.

jack perry said...

I have had that, but the self-sabotaging elements of my brain seem more fascinated with the notion of failing to pass college than of failing to teach college.