I observed classrooms for years before I became a teacher. Sometimes I would observe the interaction between students or the way in which a teacher would discipline others. I would watch the passing of notes and the distracted looks of those who longed to be outside. I could see the worst anger boil up within a student who received a bad grade.
There is only so much you can watch, though, without taking part. You can’t sit back and watch alliances form without becoming a part of the warring factions. It doesn’t do to stay aloof, waiting for the discussion to come around to what you are interested in. But there are times when observation is your job, so you must. For the sake of objectivity, I would watch the teacher drone on and the students sit and stare.
This was how I observed myself to sleep.
I watched a facilitated discussion on a book that i had never read, and i slowly laid my head down on the teachers desk at the back of the room, pretending to read on my lap. This is a move I had perfected in middle school, but I had never used it as an adult. At least, not until I was under the drug of observation. It was the constant lull of disinterested students who were forced to speak about a book that they hadn’t read either that relaxed my muscles and lowered my eye lids.
I woke up and realized what I had done as the classroom was staring at me. I apologized and everyone laughed. I never felt so much like a kid as I did in that moment of being caught in my disinterest. And feeling like a kid without your permission is awful.
I am not okay with observing myself to sleep anymore. I’m not okay with letting a situation be responsible for my stupor. I’m not okay with being disinterested in life to the point of losing conciousness.
I obsessively participate. I wring out experiences until there is nothing left. I pluck every moment and listen as my life screams with pain and pleasure and hope and failure.
“You are a designer. You have to eat the world with your eyes. You must look at everything as if you are going to die in the next five minutes, because in the relative scheme of things, you are. You can’t miss a trick.” -Winter Sorbeck character in “The Cheese Monkeys” by Chip Kidd
who knows perhaps the instructor learned something from the adult observing sleeping…pretty big lesson, I think.
I think about the book Cat's Cradle a lot now. I love what Bokonon wrote on
his official documents for the country of San Lorenzo. It was something like
Primary Occupation: Dead. In the grand scheme of things, we are all mostly
dead. And that definitely means a lot for doing things right now.
Yeah… but, I think about how little is done about sleeping in most classes
and I wonder how little respect folks have for themselves to allow
disinterest to rule.