Every single time. People on their phones, having hushed (or loud) conversations, browsing every social media site I’ve heard of and then a couple more, all in front of a tired professor who spent years and years in school just to be ignored. One time I even saw a kid put on noise cancelling headphones, break out a console controller made for PC, and start playing some RPG on his laptop. Granted he was in the back of the class, but seriously?
I can remember when I was new to Ranger Battalion, my team leader was describing react to contact, hammering it in our heads for the thousandth time. We knew how to react to contact, and we had proven it over and over again. My bored and exasperated eyes began to wander around the room. Before I knew it, my Team Leader was in my face.
“You don’t think this is important, Ryan? I’m guessing you’re an expert now, you know, since you’ve been in so many firefights. How many was that again? Zero? Oh yeah, I forgot, you joined the Army yesterday.”
I’m not sure if those were his exact words, but many of you have been on the same end of the same situation. You get the idea.
In combat-related-learning, you have to score 100% on every test. If you score 99%, then that 1% could very likely get you killed. In that spirit, it’s easy to want to learn every aspect of your field, so you can keep yourself and your buddies alive.
If you take that habit to the civilian world, people will notice.
Now, if you read the last article in this series, you’ll know I’m not about to stand up, flip my table and start doling veteran sermons on discipline to these students. While it would rile me up a little, especially in classes that didn’t even require attendance, I was there to get my own education and wouldn’t get too upset about other people wasting profound amounts of time and money. That’s their prerogative, I suppose.
And yet it still blows my mind. Veterans like me are getting paid to attend school, and that’s great, but so many kids are there digging themselves into thousands and thousands of dollars of debt, not paying attention, learning nothing, and then complaining that no one wants to hire them. I could probably write a list of a hundred better ways for them to spend their time.
I partied, had a blast, and learned what I went there to learn. I probably could have done better, but overall, I think I got a lot out of my education. I just had to be proactive and actually do what I was asked.
Of course, some classes feel like a waste of time. There are tons of ineffective, uninspiring teachers blabbering on about almost nothing at all. But I found that when I looked, every class had something to offer, in one form or another. A terrible Spanish class could still have the opportunity to learn at least a little Spanish. I was already there, I had to put in the time, so why not?
I would often look around, at those kids on their phones and laptops, whispering to one another, and ask myself: What the hell are they even doing here?