3.07.2014

The Night Before Test Day and other stories

This has been the sort of day where your morning meeting goes twice as long as normal, after which you cram in a practice SAT test, clean the house in a mad flurry, drive your car up to the school, park your car illegally for fifteen minutes because you can't find the parking meter, and promptly get lost—and you're absurdly cheerful the whole time, possibly because you had coffee.

Which is the one thing I pretty much absolutely refused to give up for Lent. :)

The day didn't leave much time for blogging, especially considering how early I have to be up to take the test. But we'll see what I can do. Don't worry, George—I haven't forgotten how important it is to include one of these:



* * *

Dear God, please let the SAT administered tomorrow be one of the ones I can score a 580 on math on, rather than a 540 like I scored the other day. And please let my calculator and my brain work. That's about all I'm begging for, although I wouldn't complain if the essay question happened to be interesting.

* * *

I think the sunshine had as much to do with my good mood as the coffee. "Partly cloudy and warm enough to walk outside with coat unbuttoned" felt wonderful after "so cold you can feel it seeping through the walls" and "more snow than rainy little Bellingham has any idea what to do with." Look—unexpected flowers:



* * *

The day was so busy that I almost didn't make the trip up to the school for the philosophy lecture, though it was recommended around choir by a friend and I'd sort of halfway said I'd go. Fifteen minutes before I had to make up my mind or else, I looked up the abstract to Dr. Zagzebski's Epistemic Authority:  A Theory of Trust, Authority, and Autonomy in Belief, her book and her lecture topic, just to see how much I wanted to hear her speak—and decided immediately that I couldn't miss it.

Imagery in Harry Potter originally gave me the concept to explain my intellectual relationship to religion, a concept that allowed me to choose to trust despite deep agnostic leanings. It was beyond fascinating to hear some of my thought processes put into academic terminology, to see the tension between the claims of authority and the claims of individual judgment expressed philosophically—a tension I still wrestle with, thanks to some of the same difficulties that questioning students were trying to camouflage behind safe examples.

I'm going to love college so much, you guys. Even if I have to take algebra. I might love that, too.

* * *

That's all I've got for tonight; I've still got to play the piano and make sure I'm prepared to show up for the SAT with everything I need (number two pencils, ticket, driver's license, calculator) and without anything that will get me thrown out (cell phone, friend's digital recorder that needs returning and has therefore spent time riding around in my purse, mechanical pencils and pens). CollegeBoard's test day page terrifies me. I feel like I'm going to the airport and therefore need to put everything into clear plastic one-quart zip-lock baggies and expect to be full-body scanned sans shoes. But most things are not quite as bad as anxiety makes them out to be.

Happy weekend!

9 comments:

  1. TUMMY SCRATCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And best wishes on the SAT. 580, here we come.

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    1. Thanks so much!! I'll have to wait and see on the math--it could have gone either way; I felt good on some of the sections and lousy on others. :)

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  2. Imagery in Harry Potter originally gave me the concept to explain my intellectual relationship to religion, a concept that allowed me to choose to trust despite deep agnostic leanings. It was beyond fascinating to hear some of my thought processes put into academic terminology, to see the tension between the claims of authority and the claims of individual judgment expressed philosophically—a tension I still wrestle with, thanks to some of the same difficulties that questioning students were trying to camouflage behind safe examples.

    I want to hear more about this. Now. It sounds like an amazing lecture and your thoughts seem just fascinating!

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    1. :) Aw, thanks! Let's see what I can do....

      Imagery in Harry Potter originally gave me the concept to explain my intellectual relationship to religion, a concept that allowed me to choose to trust despite deep agnostic leanings.

      It was very simple: it was the wording of Harry's thoughts as he refuses to answer Aberforth's needling about Dumbledore in book 7. It's hardly uncommon phrasing, and Dumbledore isn't necessarily a good God/religion analogue, but the words were an epiphany: I could believe despite having doubts.

      Maybe I should have known that, but I grew up hearing a lot of emphasis on mental/emotional certitude and experience--things I couldn't seem to get for myself. But I grew up with faith, too, and have always needed faith of some sort. I get so heartsick without it.

      It was beyond fascinating to hear some of my thought processes put into academic terminology, to see the tension between the claims of authority and the claims of individual judgment expressed philosophically—

      Dr. Zagzebski (who is apparently a pretty well-known Catholic philosopher) defended the necessity of epistemic authority--defined as an authority over belief--to autonomy, by presenting the justification for an individual subject's allowing authority to preempt his or her own judgment. That justification, in short form, as applied to belief: It's better to conscientiously judge that if I believe what [recognized authority] tells me to believe, I am more likely to reach truth than if I try to figure out what to believe on my own.

      Which is pretty much exactly the conclusion I came to in becoming Catholic out of the muddled space between nondenominational Protestantism and agnosticism that I'd been inhabiting.

      a tension I still wrestle with, thanks to some of the same difficulties that questioning students were trying to camouflage behind safe examples.

      The students were trying to challenge her extension of epistemic authority to moral authority by use of innocuous legal examples, like, "If I'm faced with a red light, I might choose not to stop if my brother's bleeding out in the back seat," and she was having none of it. She was like, "The law recognizes your right to save your brother, and I don't see that there's a belief-based analogue to that." And I was like, "Hey, everybody, do we want to have this conversation? Because I can get us close enough to belief-based analogues for that to make for some real debate here..." but between being a guest and being shy, I didn't feel up for raising the room temperature a few degrees. Anyhow, I know how the Church would answer, if not how Dr. Z. would have, and I know the counterarguments and the emotions behind them, and I know there's too much at stake for that tension to be easily resolved, even for me, so bringing up the various elephants in the room wasn't necessary for my own benefit. :P

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  3. Back in my day we didn't have fancy cell phones to mistakenly take into the ACT/SAT tests. :) Heck, we weren't too far removed from rotary phones.

    Good luck on the test!! And very nice cat picture. :D

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    1. HAHA. My best friend's family had a rotary phone while I was growing up. ;)

      And thanks!!!

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  4. In my experience, how "seriously" the CollegeBoard's guidelines are taken varies widely by testing site. Some places might, for instance, let you put a cellphone in a locker, while others will throw you out the door if you even dare to enter the premises with one (which, frankly, is inconvenient for people who didn't drive themselves to the test site and 1) can't leave their cellphone in the car and 2) have no way of calling for a ride when they're finished). BUT, I think SAT fraud is very rampant in some places, so I understand the precautions.

    Good luck!

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    1. Thanks! :)

      I had that same thought about cell phones. As it turns out, I could have brought one in as long as I was willing to power it off during the test. I didn't know that, though. Fortunately, I was able to drive myself.

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    2. I've been wondering if more people aren't treating cellphones as a "necessity" and bowing to the fact that people don't go anywhere without them. I had a similar experience taking the GRE: the website goes on forever about how you CANNOT enter the building with a phone--but when I arrived it turned out they would have let me put the phone (and a variety of other things I wasn't supposed to have) in a locker. I wish they would be more straightforward about these things.

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