Monday, January 21, 2013

Stupidity, and the Course Within the Course

I'm now gearing up for The Big Push*, which is the time early in each academic period (funny, but I cannot bring myself to use that word in any sense anymore) interval when I practically kill myself in getting all my readings and assignments completed so that I can coast for the remainder of the academic interval, which is a quarter in this particular case.  Tomorrow's a holiday in honor of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.,  so I cannot conscientiously begin The Big Push just yet. I do have one paper that is due in just fourteen days, though, so I must at least complete that one paper,  as it is against my principles  to finish any assignment less than twelve days before it is due.

I haven't talked about the courses I'm taking, and now isn't a great time for me to digress in that direction, but I will tell you that I've got some real doozies this quarter. Soon I will discuss them. For now, I'll briefly describe the composition I will begin writing in roughly ten minutes.

In my Philosophy 1008 course -- Theory of Knowledge  --  i have been given the assignment of  answering the question, "What is the essence of stupidity?" in an essay ranging from nine hundred to one thousand words. Outside sources may be used as long as citations are used and  credit is given.

The only issue I have with this assignment is the assignment within the assignment. There is a course within every course, and an assignment within every assignment.  The course within the course is what the professor really wants to hear. A successful student discovers that pearl of wisdom that the professor wants to hear, and tells it to him or her at each available opportunity.  The assignment within the assignment  is the micro-version of the course within the course. There is a particular nugget from the course within the course that the professor especially wants to be told in this particular assignment.  Find it. Tell it to him or her. Over and over in different words-- in different languages if necessary.  Forget all about being true to yourself. That can wait until later in life. For now, you need those little pieces of paper called "diplomas," "degrees,"  and "transcripts" that will allow you to do what you desire to do in life.  Tell the professor whatever it is he or she wants to hear. Ace the course. It's that simple.

The problem is that I don't know this professor all that well yet. I had to miss last Monday's class because of the threatening text message I received, thereby depriving myself of one valuable opportunity to delve beneath the surface to determine precisely what it is that powers this particular professor's mitochondria. I may be in the position of having to guess as to what the professor truly wishes to hear from his students about stupidity and its very essence. Worse still in some ways, I may  discover on the final class session before the essay is due just what it is the professor desires to hear from his students. This would require me to rewrite the essay a mere two days before its due date, which so thoroughly violates my OCD nature that I would probably break out in hives or develop a facial tic even as I typed the essay.  C'est la vie. Life is inherently troubling.

For the moment, I'm going with the idea that students, namely university students, are the true essence of stupidity. Every professor I've ever met has believed that, so why would this professor believe differently?  Seriously, inspiration will hit me once I start typing the paper. I'm fairly certain the result will be profound.  Not really.

*I'm borrowing the term "The Big Push" from the late Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the 60's Green Bay Packers. At numerous times during any given football season, Coach Lombardi would announce to his team, who already believed they were working beyond the breaking point, that on the following Tuesday they would begin "The Big Push."


  1. Wow... that's quite an interesting philosophy assignment. I would find it hard not to be flippant trying to come up with an answer to that...

    Off the top of my head, I'd say the essence of stupidity is not using your own mind and letting others do your thinking for you.

    1. Interesting take on the topic, especially from a religious perspective.

      My family is Catholic now, but I think it's more of a cultural thing than a theological stance. My dad goes along just so we can all go to church together. My mom is more devout than my dad, but she's not much closer to being in lock-step with the pope than I am.