Thursday, November 25, 2004

What Not To Be Thankful For

The American collegiate semester system, particularly the autumn term, sucks. Labor day and Thanksgiving are like two great parentheses around the entire semester, with no real break at all in between. At least the spring term has MLK Day, Easter, and spring break--an entire week off from class (and, at least in theory, assignments). But since I was in third grade, I've spent my Thanksgiving holiday playing catch-up with assignments. Today I'm completing a 12-page research proposal, due Monday. It's not like I've been procrastinating either: I've been working on and off this paper for the past several months, honing and perfecting it with every new strain of information. And I'm very close to being done now, at 12:41, after working on it for only the past two hours. But the fact that it's due directly after one of the most important American holidays is criminal.

I'm becoming a more vocal advocate for fall break. Several years ago, I read about a handful of universities and colleges that began scheduling a week's vacation from school during the fall term in order to cut down on the suicide rates of students at that time. It seemed to work. Duh! I always try to cancel a couple of classes for my own students in the fall just to give them more time to rest from the constant struggle of school, work, and their social lives. But I always run the risk of being reprimanded by departmental deans and directors for giving my students unsanctioned breaks.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, but because of this assignment, I've already turned down three invitations to dinner today. Since I don't eat turkey, it's always just easier to schedule another work day when most people are too busy being gluttons to interrupt. But I do have lots of things to be thankful for. I won't bore you with a list. But the sunny and blue sky today (after several days of severe storms and rain) makes me doubly thankful.

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