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Keep class where it belongs

Peter Schroeder | Monday, April 3, 2006

There are countless things in this wide world that are better outside than in. Things like football, rain and skeet shooting. However, there is one thing that will always be superior when surrounded by four walls, and that is class. With spring in the air, our young minds often turn to things like throwing a Frisbee, hauling a couch outside for no real good reason and an overwhelming desire to have class in the Great Outdoors. I’m here to tell you now, please resist that urge, because when it comes to classes, it’s really the Subpar Outdoors.

Just as the first robin and the first sleazy guy with an acoustic guitar on the quad signify the beginning of the spring season, so too you can predict when winter has finally ended by listening for students demanding to be taken outside for classes. Many times these requests are met with resistance from the professor, but it is entirely possible that your teacher may be complicit in this entire fiasco.

I know what you’re thinking, “Look, Pete, even though you’re awesome and all, I think having class outside is a jolly good old time.” Well, I’m sorry, fellow student, but class outside is not a jolly good old time, and no amount of awesomeness on my part can change that.

First off, the outdoors are full of bugs. Bumblebees, fire ants and giant centipedes all populate this place where you desperately want to place your hind end for an extended period of time. Sure, there are insects that you can find indoors, but they’re things like houseflies and the occasional ant – nothing that you would someday find injecting venom into your supple flesh.

Another reason that classes stay inside is that blasted wind. When walking across the quad, a nice breeze may feel invigorating and make you feel alive and ready to take on the world, but when you’re trying to have a class, the wind just makes a gigantic mess of everything. How am I supposed to be able to take notes when the wind keeps blowing my graph paper out of my Trapper Keeper? I mean, why do you think that cavemen were called cavemen? They weren’t called “Unable to Keep Papers in Trapper Keeper”-men, and that’s because they kept it inside. Are you sillier than a caveman?

Another point on the growing list of reasons to keep it indoors is the lack of adequate seating in the wilderness. Unless you are a highly proactive Outdoor-Demander, chances are most of the good spots will have been taken by the time you manage to cajole your professor to allow a fun-filled lecture outside. As such, you and your classmates will be forced to sit on the dirty, dirty ground. And you know what’s all over that dirty, dirty ground? Dirt. And you know where that dirt ends up at the end of class? On your butt. And you know who was the first person to sail directly from Europe to India? Vasco de Gama. I may not have learned a lot in my four years at Notre Dame, but I did learn that it’s impossible to respect a man with dirt on his butt. Oh, and I learned that Vasco de Gama thing too.

If my litany of reasons so far for keeping the learning under a ceiling is insufficient, then think of the professors. These people devote their lives to the pursuit of academic excellence in a desire to better themselves and possibly mankind, and you’re going to make them practice their well-honed craft outside? You wouldn’t ask Einstein to work out his equations outside, nor would you tell Michelangelo to paint “The Creation of Adam” on a hedge of some sort. The faculty at Notre Dame didn’t devote their lives to the pursuit of knowledge just so that one day they would have to compete with grass for your attention.

I know many of you think I’m nuts, but think about it: when is the last time you had a great time in an outdoor class? Being outside for class never ends with things like jumping in a Big Bouncy or playing freeze tag. It always ends with a sore back, a Trapper Keeper sans some essential papers, and dirt on your butt. The outdoors are a seductive mistress, making you lust after warm sunshine and Ultimate Frisbee – but stay strong, because that mistress will end up two-timing you with wind, fire ants and so much dirt. She can’t be trusted, so keep class inside as the Good Lord intended. Yes, Jesus gave a Sermon on the Mount, but if he had the technology, it would have been the Sermon in 101 DeBartolo, complete with Powerpoint.

Peter Schroeder is a senior English major, and he waits for your e-mail with baited breath. He can be reached at pschroed@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer