Seminar Discussion

Originally Posted on The Yale Herald - Medium via UWIRE

My palms are sweating. I’m not talking about the Eminem song I used to play on repeat while I was watching Pokemon livestreams in middle school. My palms are actually sweating, and it’s all I can think about. I tell everyone that I prefer seminars, but that’s just because everyone says I’m supposed to like smaller classes.Well you know what, humanities majors? Fuck seminars. It’s not just having to show up for class. You’re being pitted against and judged by ten other students. Who among you can feign intelligence? Who among you will fail in pretending you did the reading and cry yourself back to your dorm, utterly defeated?

It has been twenty-seven seconds since the professor asked me a question. I need to buy more time. “You know, Churchland talks about that in the third section…” I start flipping through the thirty-page reading that I used my dad’s money to print out, but it’s just a front. I have nothing to look for. I have never seen these words in my life. One of my classmates, Sarah, glares at me from across the room. You are nothing, her eyes say. I will be witness to your downfall. Sarah started our discussion today by saying “I think Churchland’s take on philosophy of mind was very unconventional.” Classic, lukewarm take at the beginning of class. Sarah only read the first page, but the professor doesn’t know that. He won’t call on her again. She’s won.

Forty-five seconds. I am running out of time. Surely, by now, they’ve realized that I’ve been flipping back and forth between the same pages, over and over again. Pablo, on my left, lets out a pitying oof under his breath, but I can sense he is grateful. After this, our corner of the room won’t be called on for at least ten minutes, which buys him enough time to connect the discussion to some fabricated anecdote from his personal life.

Just as I’m about to say “I can’t find it,” the professor speaks. “Look, maybe we’ll just move on, and give Ihea time to find the passage.” His gentle phrasing masks nothing. He knows I haven’t done the reading. We all know. My classmates all sit in nervous relief. It could’ve been any of them. I have been knocked down to the bottom of the totem pole, right next to Jack, who brings his Crock Pot to every class. I look up to the heavens and make one final decree:

“I knew I should’ve just taken Intro to Psych.”


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