Column: Learning beyond the classroom


Maroon Staff



A month ago, I was feeling really burnt out about school. I was in the middle of writing my fifth short paper for that week and dealing with insane writer’s block. I tried so many solutions. I got up and went for a walk. I took a short nap and tried to write again. I decided that I was going to deprive myself of food (if I get hungry enough, I’ll definitely write this!). Nothing worked, so I did the only thing I could do: I faceplanted onto my bed.

It turned out that I had a book under my blanket that hit me in the face – a copy of “Memoirs of a Geisha” that I bought for a couple dollars at a garage sale. I started thumbing through it and ended up finishing it two hours later. I was in awe – the story was captivating. I felt uplifted and energized. I immediately sat down and pounded out the last three pages of my paper. I also realized that I hadn’t read for pleasure in a long time.

When I talk to my friends in college, a lot of them say that they don’t read for pleasure anymore. They only have time to read for class, and that’s so stressful that by the end of the week, they just want to get away from paper and do something, anything else, because everything reminds them of class. I feel like that sometimes.

There’s a part in a movie called “Mr. Holland’s Opus” when the title character tries to fight for the arts in schools, saying that teaching people to read and write is fine, but without things like music, kids won’t have anything to read or write about. We have to learn beyond what we learn in the classroom – that can only be a starting point.

In the crunch of deadlines and day-to-day distractions, we can lose sight of those things that inspire and drive us, those truths that are more than facts. Learning requires only that we attend class, but inspiration requires art, and it is up to us to seek art out.

Maybe, if we applied things we learned to things that we actually like – be that music, talking to people, or books that hit you in the face, we’d feel less burnt out all the time and more excited to learn independently. Or, maybe we’d just have enough inspiration to finish the fifth short paper of that week.

Kylee McInytre can be reached at [email protected]