Thursday, December 02, 2004

Homework Psychosis

Have you ever been sitting around, Sunday afternoon, nothing to do? Maybe there's a light drizzle, maybe you've been working on a crossword, maybe somewhere in the background Wolf Blitzer is talking about seatbelts...

And you feel vaguely disconcerted. Like you shouldn't just be sitting around. Like you shouldn't be wasting time. Isn't there something you should be doing? Isn't the clock ticking on some important task and you're just letting precious time slip by? Are you wasting the day? Why are you just sitting around on your lazy ass?

This, I believe, is the damage that homework does to the brain. Grade school, high school, college, grad school. I think we've been conditioned to feel like we should never have a free moment.

Because homework is never done. You can't do ALL the reading. You can't do ALL the recommended exercises and problems. You can't possibly have gotten an adequate start on that term project. Homework is never really finished. You can take breaks, and parcel out the work in chunks, but every minute you're not doing anything is a minute when you could be doing homework.

This mindset becomes ingrained in your teenaged head and never leaves. Shouldn't you get some of that homework done? You haven't even cracked that one book. How can you sit there and watch TV when that rough draft is due Monday?

Homework invades your personal space. You aren't safe at home. You're not even safe in your bedroom. You could be working.

One thing I loved about my old job is that when 6 o'clock came around, the day's work was over. You were done. The rest of that evening? Not a care in the world. If you wanted to do nothing but watch ESPN classic and drink Coors until you dozed off in front of the TV, then you had a big 'ol green light.

But some people get permamently frazzled by the homework psychosis and never learn to give it up. Some people just aren't comfortable doing nothing. Oh, they'll do nothing. But it won't be a comfortable nothing. It will be a vaguely stressful and agonizing nothing. They'll never feel like Ron Livingston from Office Space when he says "I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing. And it was everything I thought it could be."

I think it's wrong that school related work is allowed to invade every single moment of your day. Maybe The Brak Show had a good idea when Brak and Zorak went back in time to prevent the invention of homework. When they arrived back in the present, school work was only allowed to be done at school.

I recommend to everyone that they set aside a day to do absolutely nothing. Well, not literally nothing. But nothing of significance. Plan it in advance so you know you won't have any obligations, and then just let the sweet nothingness fly.


Anonymous said...

On the other hand, if you go into academia, you never have to give up that nagging feeling that you haven't started your homework....

Rowsdower said...

Yes, but at least you get to wear all that cool tweed.