Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Horrors of School and The Accompanying Lesson in Faith

Happy feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

St Albert the Great
I am in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (Some information on that here if you are not familiar, and I know, the IB's aims can be problematic for me as a Catholic. That talk is best left for another day.) and am studying for the full diploma. I am in the second year in the programme as a senior (Yes I realized I misspelled it, but they love British spellings, so I feel the need to be consistent).

This week my class has been conducting what are known as Individual Oral Commentaries for English, which are graded by the teacher and then reviewed by an outside moderator. The process for the IOC is as follows:

1) You select a poem recently studied in class, but you don't know which poem you will have for the commentary. It is drawn randomly from a series of envelopes. My teacher chose from the works of William Butler Yeats, by the way, and Yeats is not always straightforward with the universally-applicable literary qualities of his poetry.
2)You have twenty minutes to prepare an eight-minute commentary on the poem, looking at all sorts of devices that are used in a meaningful way in the poem.
3) This is delivered into a tape recorder, and is followed by two minutes of questions from the teacher on the poem.
4) As if there was no limit to intensity, the next 10 minutes are spent responding to questions on one of the other two works from the past semester (the play Arcadia by Tom Stoppard or Joan Didion's essay collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem). Notice a pattern? Yep, that's right, you are once again subjected to a random selection of the piece under discussion.

The Angelic Doctor
One of my friends in my class tends to be a big-bucket-o'stress before tests of any kind, and frets that she will do poorly. May I add that she has been blessed with a wealth of knowledge, a strong character, a diligent work ethic, and a well-placed application of intellect. The IB programme is definitely challenging, and the IOC is one of the harder exercises in the curriculum. So you can imagine that this might be a stress-inducing occasion to a level that is pretty unbearable for her.

The kids at school have spent the past several days attempting to coalesce, as we know we cannot make it through alone, and that we've had a pretty disagreeable year as a class. We have especially bonded around our stressed-beyond-the-max classmate, who has been so stressed about everything lately. Calculus is hard enough without any help from English, thank you very much! I was fortunate to have several insightful conversations with her about life right now, and realized that my material and familial situation is pretty darn easy. Because her birthday fell on Sunday, another classmate and I made sure to bring her treats so that her week started off well.

Yeah, Joseph could fly too
I presented my commentary yesterday, and was mildly nervous. But, I felt the need to ask for the intercession of Sts. Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, and Joseph of Cupertino. They are the patrons of students and test-takers in various combinations (also, I was only dimly aware of Joseph's patronage...there is no such thing as luck in such matters). It was a successful endeavor; I was calm and articulated my thoughts as well as I could. That meant coming into my sixth period, which is English and the second-to-last class of the day with a rather triumphant attitude. That was smote quickly, and rightly so as I saw her in particular struggling to prepare. I plopped down on the floor near her, and guided her through the day's strain on the brain.

Fast-forward to today: Lemme tell you, I tried to get her to stop studying. Nope, not a chance! We gave her all the advice we could, and she was pretty receptive. She was never mean about anything, and she asked good questions (We gave good answers.). We tried to calm her down; we gave her hugs, high-fives, and fist-bumps. We told her to chill. Instead, she spent a solid fifteen minutes pacing around the library during sixth period reviewing the Yeats poetry, and at that point she was T-30 minutes until the commentary. Not my way of doing things but who am I to control this? When she got back from her waderings (Not all those who wander are lost), I pulled her aside to point out how much she had already helped me in regards to understanding friendship. I told her what I posted about last night, and that I had prayed at least twice that day to Sts Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, and Joseph of Cupertino. Quite honestly, I don't care if a person is Catholic or not. If they have a very great need, I think it's only right that I tell him or her that I've said a prayer.

Right before the last bell of the day, she came into calculus, and was ecstatic. She talked for eight minutes and nine seconds on a poem she knew really well, and did well in the discussions. She's been blessed to be sure, and was given the gift to tackle the IOC. Willpower is not enough. There is no way I got through it on my own either.

In short, I have been aided in my vision and understanding of the following:

  1. Friendship
  2. Faith 
  3. Prayer
  4. Grace
  5. Humility
  6. Suffering
  7. Importance of relationships to man's very being
What a week it's been. Also, I love how I have glimpsed this event through my Catholic faith. Remember, you'll never walk alone (yes, I am referencing the song). God is good, and AMDG+

1 comment:

  1. So what was her reaction to your prayers, etc? HAs she seen your blog?