I put off writing this final blog post more than Ricky Rice kept putting off using the bag of drugs he was carrying. Procrastination can come in many forms, some that are positive and some that are negative. In my case it was negative because I avoided something that could have been done earlier and bettered my writing, while he avoided something that would have set him back years and possibly ruined his opportunity for growth. That is the one thing that I will say Ricky Rice has demonstrated in Big Machine, growth. While it proved that ultimately he had no idea what he was getting himself into, he still developed as an individual along the way. It is not common that you hear someone say that procrastination can lead to growth which is why it is particularly fascinating that in Ricky’s case, it did.
In my own experiences throughout this semester I am not sure how much growth I actually achieved. Most of the things in my courses have been a result of procrastination or me trying to meet tight deadlines set by professors. I do not feel like I did a lot of what Dr. McCoy would call “thinkING.” I can honestly attribute this to my anxiety about graduation and making sure that all of my requirements are completed sufficiently enough for me to graduate. Interestingly enough, I took this African-American literature class as an elective since it is not required for my major or even as a Gen-Ed, and it seems to be the only class in which I have experienced growth. Go figure. I find it interesting that the only class that I feel like I gained and retained valuable knowledge in was one that had nothing to do with my “requirements.” Anyone reading this would say “yeah, okay, here she goes again boasting about Dr. McCoy’s class,” but I want to be clear, this post is far from an advertisement for her class, it’s a testimony.
Ricky Rice has a similar story in that he has no real reason for taking the bus after receiving the strange note, but nonetheless he does. While on his journey he considers turning back many times but doesn’t, instead he continues to face the unknown and allow the future to determine itself. Within this period, he grows from the ex-drug user working at a bus station, to Ricky Rice, the unlikely scholar doing research and drafting reports among other scholars. In the beginning stages of doing work for the Washburn Library, Ricky is unaware of exactly what his job entails or the information he is supposed to be extracting from the newspapers. After a few months of watching others and considering the possibilities of what he could be looking for, Ricky becomes resilient and concentrated. He also develops a sense of belonging in his new environment.
I relate to Ricky in a few ways in regards to growth. As I mentioned before, it seems to be the one class that I was not required to take in order to graduate in which I experienced the most growth. I could attribute this to a lack of pressure associated with this course considering that it is not for my major or Gen-Ed, but I’m not quite sure that is the reason because I still need the credits and I value quality work. If there is one reason that I would say I grew in this class in comparison to my other classes it would be because Dr. McCoy believed in my writing and made me feel like I belonged in a class with mostly English majors. Ricky Rice was made to feel like he belonged as an Unlikely Scholar and was incentivized by his peers to produce quality work and impress the dean.
Ultimately I believe that by removing the pressure associated with GPA’s and Gen-Eds vs. major requirements, students would have a lot more opportunity to take in information and knowledge about the courses in which we engage. In order to experience growth in our college careers, there needs to be a change in understanding of curriculum and accommodation of different learning styles. It is in this way that Big Machine demonstrates growth and change very well. All of the scholars are given the opportunity to impress the dean and find meaningful information although none of them are mandated to be there or to be successful in their findings. The only problem with freedom is that sometimes it warrants procrastination, but as I mentioned in the beginning of this blog, procrastination can be a positive or a negative depending on how it is effecting the person experiencing it.
The idea of procrastination being able to be a positive or a negative makes me think about the conversation that we had in class about self-organizing things. Sometimes they can be positive in the context of fractals and patterns, but other times self-organizing can be associated with incurable circumstances like the AIDS virus. This concept of duality within the same idea becomes interesting when I apply the way that people often associate ideas with one or the other but never both…