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Lesson Transcript

Back in college, I took a psychology class taught by a guy named Steve. He allowed students who had above a ninety-five percent average to be exempt from his final exam. I was one of those students. He jokingly remarked that I could still come and take the exam if I wanted to. And I did. Want to. But I didn't want to look silly. Not taking that exam was anticlimactic for me. There was no final, just a gradual drift into the next semester.
Since then, I have had a lot of students pass through my various classrooms.
Each and every student was different and a learning experience for me, but in the end, each and every student was also exactly the same.
Towards finals time, all students, good and bad, scholars and slackers, start to freak-out just a little bit.
Of course, the method and form of the freak-out is always different, but it amounts to the same thing.
Human beings take issue with finality, with the ending of things.
What should we study? What's going to be on the test? How long will it take? How much is it worth? Will there be extra credit? Are there any multiple-choice questions? No? Come on, Miss. Give us a break.
Finals are a rite of passage, a gateway from one level to the next, one way of defining oneself to another. And perhaps this is what we take issue with.
These are moments that redefine us—finals, graduation, marriage, parenthood—they are all expected and anticipated, but still sudden.
In a moment, a major change has occurred and we are no longer who we used to be.
I'm sure that Steve thought he was doing us a favor, but at least for me, he took away that conscious shift that told me, "This is it," "It's over," "Time to move on."