Ben Borgers

Formulaic Classes

March 29, 2022

I’ve got to say, my enthusiasm for Chinese class is waning again.

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been finding that the class is crawling by more and more slowly. I check my watch and it’s only been 15 minutes, with another hour to go.

I find myself fidgeting, and longing for distraction. Recently, I’ve started pulling out my iPad to feign taking notes but instead to keep one eye on scrolling through Twitter. The class has become painfully boring, and I’ve started craving something else to engage my brain.

I think that my brain has gotten used to the formula. The class consists of quite literally the same four class formats, repeated for each lesson in the textbook, interspersed with a couple tests. But the things we do on days one, two, three, and four of the lesson are the same every time.

Over the semester, my brain has gotten used to the format. I know what’s coming now on each day. I preview the vocabulary on my own, and the class goes by mostly fine — but there’s not much interesting to it.

It’s an interesting question, whether that’s a fault in this class. There are people who believe that a teacher’s job is to teach, not to try to engage their students.

But it seems to me that doing the same four sessions eight times over a couple months will naturally get boring — that seems like a natural human thing, not a character flaw in some humans. Boredom is something we can expect.

So maybe, as humans, we need variety to keep our minds engaged. That doesn’t seem like a byproduct of this modern world and modern technology, but even if it is, I don’t think there’s much we can do about it.

Even if people want to learn something, learning it through formulaic classes will probably get boring eventually. Sameness always gets boring.

But I don’t foresee the formula of my Chinese class changing anytime soon. It’s okay. 5 weeks left.