For the record, as a college student, I would have hated classes with interactive engagement. Largely, this is because I wrestled in college. During the wrestling season, which was basically September through March when you include pre-season, all I could manage was to show up to class and take notes, and maybe squeeze in an hour or two of homework before crashing into bed. Had I been asked to interact with other human beings in class, I probably would have punched someone in the face at least once a week. Ask my college roommate: a starving, exhausted, physically and mentally abused college wrestler does not enjoy the company of others. He does not enjoy talking, thinking, socializing, and he especially doe not like being touched–most forms of touching during the wrestling season are violent.
My days usually went like this. Wake up at 6:00 am, take pain meds, go run somewhere between 4-6 miles. Come back home and eat an orange. Go to class for a few hours. Take pain meds. Eat a bowl of cereal. Hit the weights. Have a power nap. Grueling practice for 2-3 hours. Take pain meds. Eat another orange and another bowl of cereal. Spend an hour doing quantum mechanics homework. Spend an hour doing electricity and magnetism homework. Go to bed. Wake up in the middle of the night from pain and take pain meds. Go back to sleep.
I should expand upon what being in class meant. Being in class meant I was a zombie, intellectually functioning just enough to listen, observe, and write. For me, class served as an exhaustively detailed syllabus, telling me important information that I would need to learn later. While I never missed lecture (unless we were traveling for wrestling, or I was having surgery due to wrestling), I never once attended a TA-led recitation, a review session, or a professor’s office hours. In lecture, I could be a zombie. The risk of having to interact with someone was far too great in these more intimate settings, plus, I really really didn’t want to learn in class; I just wanted to receive my detailed syllabus and go back home. Home was where pain meds, food, and a bed was. I could learn on my own time, when I wasn’t immediately starving, exhausted, or in pain.
Partly here I exaggerate, but not that much, especially in the real depths of the wrestling season, where you are practicing twice a day, traveling every weekend, and sustaining life with a meager 3-4% body fat. It’s not just the physical toll. The wrestling season requires the maintenance of a particular mental state. That mental state includes an immense commitment to the idea that wrestling is the only important thing going on, that pain and suffering is rewarding, an ability to ignore feelings such as hunger and thirst, and a readiness to attack and destroy in a ruthless unemotional way.
I don’t know why I’m sharing this story. I don’t know what the moral is. It’s just what was on my mind this morning.