Satisfaction: exam-related thoughts

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Actually Mick, I can get some satisfaction.

This morning I wrote a mid-term for one of my favourite courses this semester, Prof. Tom Wilson’s Structure of English (GL/EN 2608). I did well and I felt so satisfied after handing it in.

This made me realize that there is no better feeling than learning in a class, and then getting rewarded for it with grades. After all, if you’re not learning anything at all, an A feels like a pointless and meaningless label. On the other hand, when you’re really working hard and getting Cs, it’s just discouraging!

Beautifully though, I have been learning…

… about grammar, (I finally know the difference between a preposition, conjunction, determiner, and the different English tenses. No more pretending!)

… about language, (According to Tom Wilson, lots of rules we grow up with are really just highfalutin/pompous/unfounded. The result for me: liberation from being a member of the grammar police.)

about life. Here are some Tom-quotes (paraphrased) that I’ve scrawled down during lecture:

“If you don’t allow yourself to be wrong, you’re committing yourself to never being right.”

“It’s pointless to work hard if we’re not working well. [Not procrastinating] isn’t moralistic, it’s just pragmatic.”

“Dare to be awful, because you actually learn something by failing.”

Brilliant. Preach it, Tom!

With that, it’s time for me to start the 2 papers and assignments waiting for me in my binder.

Have you written exams lately? How did you feel about them?

P.S. Thanks to Michael McGrath for the great blog post idea. You da bomb!

Bro, this is the way it is. (#examlife)

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The best sideways look, ever.
I wrote this when I was working on an essay really late at night at the library. I was very, very fed up, but it got me thinking about why I was there in the first place (in school, that is). 
 

School isn’t glamorous. 
It’s working late nights at the library.
It’s juggling all of the things that you have to do with the things you want to do.
It’s making sacrifices.
It’s feeling stressed out sometimes.
It’s building certain skills from the ground up.

School is worth it.
It’s working for something that matters.
It’s creating work worthy of attention.
It’s finding your passion.
It’s about meeting people who ask hard question and try to find better answers.
It’s facing challenges and emerging a changed person.

Why do you think school is worth it?

Don’t wait.

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I was listening to Louie Giglio speak a few weeks ago, and he made a really interesting point.

As a student, adults are always getting us into thinking about the next thing.
First it’s, “What school are you going to?”
and then it’s, “What (resume-building-self-exploring-impressive-type) activity are you going to do during the summer?”
‘Till finally people start asking, “What’s your plan for retirement?”

It’s not that planning forward is a bad thing; the real problem is that continually worrying/waiting/thinking about the future steals us away from experiencing the present.

There will always be a “next thing.” But what about now?

This question has been weighing on me more and more heavily, especially . . .

1. As I have thought more often “Yeesh. I have been thinking about song-writing for-EVER. When am I finally going to do that?”
2. As I heard a woman talk about her work in Cambodia. She has been living there for the last four years armed with the purpose of fighting child prostitution. In spite of all that she does, every week a girl in her care is sold by her parents to sex traffickers. Every week.
In my life these two different things represent the same thing: putting things off that I know could be doing something about right now.

It’s a little bit late for New Years’ resolutions, but what the heck.

I resolve…

1. To startsongwriting regularly (at least a song every other month).
2. To tangibly help the poor and oppressed in my global community in 2012.

What have you resolved to do this year? What’s on your heart?

Reflections on Roméo Dallaire’s Visit to Glendon

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Roméo Dallaire recently came to give a lecture at Glendon, as part of the John W. Holmes Memorial Lecture Series. He covered a lot in his lecture – equality, change, leadership – but the thing that affected me the most was the challenge that he made to the young people of Canada and the developed world.
Here’s the gist of what he said:Every student who has graduated from high school or university from a developed country should undergo a “rite of passage”: serving in a developing country following graduation. We should all have a pair of dirty boots sitting under their bed, soiled from serving in the developing world.

Hm.

Dirty boots. They’re not glamorous, or comfortable, or sought-after; they represent hard work, patience, and persistence.
Dallaire’s vision of change was equally as unglamorous. He described it as something built upon:
the choice to feel uncomfortable in the midst of injustice;
the choice to act in a culture of inaction;
the choice to persist for small gains, in the pursuit of long-term goals.
It’s easy to want to change the world, but to work for that change with humility is a whole other story. Dallaire made me check my perspective. My focus is often in all the wrong places, but somehow the image of “dirty boots” centers them all.
 
Dallaire was the Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) during the genocide that occurred there in 1994, during which over 800,000 Rwandans were murdered. I highly recommend the documentary based on his journey, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire. Find out more about Roméo here.