Commentary  Life lines: Running to class for a reason

You know that thing they tell us about “needing” to go to class? That spiel about how “actually being present” tends to make a difference? The “you-might-miss-what-I’ll-only-say-in-class” prof talk?

Yeah, that thing. Well, they better be right.

Professors go to great lengths to make subjects discussed in lecture available outside of class. Some genius figured out how to put slides, notes, extra reading, and a whole variety of academic paraphernalia on that plate of information from which we can eat at any time: the Internet.

I assume it’s the same genius who scheduled classes for 8:30 a.m. in the morning, that introduces this dilemma. The person in the front of the room tells us that there is data on the net that will make any note-taker drool while claiming that come rampant cyclists or a Montreal snowstorm, we better be in class. Irony much?

But I, being the reluctant owner of a pesky conscience, decided that since I am not at university out of my own pocket, it is only right that I attend every lecture which my parents’ money is paying for. This idealistic strategy served me well…for the first week and a half. Then on a special Tuesday, an hour before my 8:30 a.m. class, disaster struck.

The manufacturers of my alarm somehow wired it so that on this day it would blare twice the usual decibels allowed in most countries. This gave a new meaning to the phrase “loud as fuck.”

After ascertaining that my ears weren’t bleeding, I slammed the alarm with such ferocity that there was no way it would ring again, and ring again it didn’t. Thus, I woke up for my 8:30 a.m. lecture at 8:25 a.m.

My humble abode lies on University Ave., while my class was starting on the other side of campus. To call my next action “sprinting” is an understatement. With my conscience and thoughts of oncoming midterms flying at me, I started yanking on clothes, most of which I only got on at the red light two blocks from home.

It’s a miracle my laptop stayed in its bag, and a bigger miracle that McGill Security didn’t come after me. Between the running effort and the guilty conscience, I know my face had a determined-criminal-just-escaped-outta-jail look.

Finally bursting through the auditorium doors, I discovered that life was normal. Students casually strode up to find seats. The professor lazily flicked through the textbook. The clock read 8:29 a.m.

In the next hour, I listened to a lovely lecture which I reviewed again (through the Internet) a few weeks later in preparation for my midterm. And lo and behold, it was different. I was certain that in the lecture the prof had talked about something – the superior colliculus integrating cortical as well as retinal information – which definitely was not on the net. This was wonderful news. A true moral to my story. Something to sing about or jive to.

It better be on the exam.

Johanu’s column appears every Monday. Send him your notes to lifelines@mcgilldailycom.