Wednesday, October 03, 2012

eXcess eXam anXiety

Exam season: floating anxiety wafts around my building in tangible, sticky filaments like the spiderweb I walked through as I left the house this morning. Students sit on benches clutching index cards as if they held the answer to the meaning of life rather than notes about the Smoot-Hawley Act or the definition of diaspora.

Many departments use this building so while I'm sitting in my office writing a Sports Literature exam, the hallways are humming with petroleum engineering students drilling each other on--well, drilling. Meanwhile, some of my English majors huddle clutching Norton anthologies to their chests. "Theory exam tomorrow," they tell me, their gaze intent on a blank spot inhabited by the spector of Aristotle, Coleridge, or Northrop Frye.

"I don't know why, but I have a lot of anxiety about your postcolonial exam," says one English major, "not that there's anything wrong with that." What's so wrong about exam anxiety? It motivates, energizes, and eventually dissipates--but not before filling the building with wisps of floating angst. 

And who will clean up the excess anxiety when exam season is over? Whoever it is, they'd better bring along a blowtorch. 

1 comment:

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