We’ll begin today’s discussion with a gripe. Some of you have heard parts of it before. I am enrolled in four subjects this semester. Two are great, they’re fun, I understand them, and they’re relevant. One is OK, not so fun, and semi-relevant. And then there’s ENS262. Hydrology and Geomorphology. I want to be a teacher. Yet this is not a teaching subject. I want to be a physics teacher. Yet this is not a physics subject. As a high school physics teacher, I will teach physics to seniors and also be expected to teach younger grades a more general science. This subject is described as the study (-ology) of how water (hydro) interacts with and changes (morph) the landscape (geo). Plain english – EROSION. This has nothing to do with physics. It has nothing to do with chemistry or biology either. It is an earth science, an environmental science, a branch of geography. When I went to high school geography was linked to history, taught by the same teachers as history, and kept well away from actual science activities.
How much should I care?
I just want this subject over. But I have a dilemma. Based on the assessment during the semester I have almost passed the subject. With 75% of the marks already allocated I have achieved 49.3%. A pass starts at 50%. If I spell my name right on the coversheet and lay down one good sentence I will get the 0.7% I need to get across the line. But my conscience and my competitive nature ganged up on me and moved the finish line. If I achieve 15.7% from the final 25% I will get a Credit grade. If I hit it out of the park I may squeeze into a Distinction. And there’s another problem, the course outline clearly states "Students must demostrate satisfactory progress in all assessment items in order to pass the course."
And thus we arrive at today’s subject, procrastination.
Over the years I have discovered that if you procrastinate long enough many of the things you are procrastinating about just go away, or someone else does them for you. Either that or you get caught, get on the job urgently, all the while shouting an elegant and tangible excuse over you shoulder as you head off in the general direction of the required task (and here you thought I only blogged good stories).
How late is too late?
But today I discovered that there are certain things that you can’t put off. You can’t delay last minute cramming for an exam. By its very nature, cramming has already been delayed to the last possible moment. I had great plans. There was a full week between the previous exam and this. Take out a bit of time with the family, a bit of time earning some money, a bit of time blogging (quite a bit), a bit of time riding (not enough), there would still be ample time for reading and revision. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. That week just disappeared up it’s own exhaust pipe. Revision=0hrs, everything else=168hrs. So with the exam starting at 2pm, I head off to a revision tutorial for a different subject at 10am. 12 o’clock must be lunch time. 12.45pm I arrived at the exam hall with 13 weeks lecture notes (untouched since the corresponding lectures dating July through October) plus two textbooks (which I shall be able to truthfully advertise on the student guild noticeboard as “perfect condition”).
At 2pm, there I sat, having skim-read the lecture notes and handed the textbooks in at security for safe keeping (like I’d care if they disappeared). During the 10 minute perusal we were allowed to write on the question paper, but not the answer paper. We had to answer four questions from six listed. In barely half the perusal time I had selected which questions I would answer and dot-pointed everything I knew about all four of them. That was a little too easy.
How fast is too fast?
“Students, we will be working from the clock at the front of the room – and your time starts now.” Breathe. Think. Write. Think. Think. Think. Write. Think. Think. Damn. Think. Think. Write. Think. Think. Write. Think. Write. Hand up. “Do you need to go to the toilet?” “No, I’m done.”
++ Flashback ++ I completed my 90 minute physics mid-term in 42 minutes and got 100%. I finished my 90 minute differential calculus mid-term in 46 minutes and got 92.6%.
I finished today’s two hour exam in 55 minutes. I had written nearly a page on each of the four questions. It seemed complete and it was certainly everything I could recall without prompting from notes that were being held by security. As I got up to leave, one of the “high achievers” put his hand up as well. Great, if he’s finished in about the same time I’ll be OK. “Can I get another answer book please?” Oh, damn. He wasn’t leaving, he was just warming up. Having written eight pages, he still had more to say.
Well, Friday will bring better things… my last exam of the year is three hours of differential and integral calculus. I should be done in about two hours. And it will be because I have answered every question completely and spectacularly.
In the meantime if you have any questions about Hydrology and Geomorphology, don’t ask me. But I know a guy…