Core Decorum: ten ways to use ten minutes

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Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang.

“Next time, we will talk about …” and the rest of the assignment is usually drowned out in the closing of binders and the zipping of bags as students prepare to run to their next classes. The following 10 minutes are treasured opportunities to do sanity checks and quickly refresh/cram for our next encounters with the world of academia. Here are 10 suggestions for how to make the most of the 10 minutes between classes …

1. Write a letter: a small one, the size of an index card, or a briefly scrawled note to a either friend on campus or your grandmother. Everyone loves getting mail, even if it says exactly the same thing a text would. Keep pretty postcards or “manly” legal ruled paper in your bag, and write a quick note.

2. Introduce yourself. It’s still not too late to introduce yourself to that person in class you don’t know. If the conversation goes well, you have a new friend. If the conversation goes badly, then it won’t last for more than ten minutes … unless the teacher is late …

3. Ask your teacher a question from the A.D. If up to this point the only thing you know about your professor is that they have studied ancient Greece or the history of Economics, it might be time to ask him if he had a good weekend or what he thinks about last night’s game.

4. Think of questions to ask. When I left for college, my dad told me that I was not supposed to let a class go by without asking one question that was at least somewhat intelligent. It is a habit which has served me well, since it forces me to pay attention to the class and the reading (or Sparknotes … but I didn’t say that).

5. Pull a J.R.R. Tolkein or a J.K. Rowling and write a novel. Legend has it that the first line, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit …” was first written on the back of a test Tolkein was correcting. What a good use of an old Blue Book!

6. Pray a decade, and if you have five classes, why, that’s at least two rosaries a week.

7. Check the stock market. Check it once or twice between classes, and become familiar with patterns. You don’t have to know anything about business to see if it goes up or down, and when you make a million dollars later in life you can thank me.

8. Get on Facebook. Yes, I’m encouraging Facebook, but only during these ten minutes. What if we gave up social media except for between classes?

9.Record serendipitous moments in the margins of your notes, in a journal, whatever you have available. Special moments — even an unexpected smiles — should not be forgotten.

10. Commit to one small thing: think about one thing you can do for someone else when you get out of class, like ask about their paper or if they want to go to the Cap Bar. Put 10 minutes of thought into how you can let a friend know they’re special.

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