Dream of:31 August 1996 "Need For Science"
It was my last day of school at Baylor Law School and I was taking my last test. Once this test was over, at last I would be finished with law school. In my mind I could see a vista of test papers stretching back to the beginning of law school, culminating in this last test which I would take today.
I was sitting at a student desk right in front of the room, facing the female teacher sitting at her large beige wooden desk facing the students. She was a thin frail-looking woman, rather poorly dressed; I had the distinct impression she wasn't well qualified to be teaching a law class. I thought of her as living on a poor dirt farm with a house full of kids, barely eking out a living.
Nevertheless, she was the teacher, and she began giving us the test. One by one, she began saying words which we the students wrote down. Most words were difficult, and I particularly had trouble with one which sounded something like "ululu", having never heard the word before. All together she gave us 20 words to write down; not until we were almost to the last word did I realize we were being tested on nothing more than how well we spelled the words. Realizing this, I became rather indignant. This was certainly not proper material to be tested on in a course in law. We should be tested on something of substance, on our ability to write out a comprehensive analysis of some subject. I felt insulted to be tested on nothing more than my spelling ability, and my feelings about this woman's being unqualified to teach law seemed confirmed.
Besides that, my spelling wasn't all that good; there was a good chance I could have failed. The prospect of failing the test, however, wasn't of great significance, because my results on previous tests had been quite good – good enough to easily allow me to fail this test and still graduate from law school.
It was the principle of the thing which bothered me: that an unqualified professor should be teaching a law class and wasting the student's time with a spelling test. As soon as the test was over, I resolved to go immediately to the dean of the law school and voice my dismay. After I had handed in my paper and walked out into the hall, I was surprised to find another fellow of like mind had joined me; he was going to accompany me to the dean's office. I was surprised because I had never had much to do with this fellow; he had always seemed like the sort who would just go along with whatever he was told to do in law school without complaining. He was a rather handsome young man, with black neatly coifed hair and impeccable attire, the kind of too-straight fellow I generally shied away from. He now seemed so amiable and willing to join me, however, I eagerly welcomed his company; the two of us headed toward the dean's office.
Once we had entered the office, we didn't have to wait long until the dean of the law school made his appearance: McSwain. A short rotund man with an oval face, approaching old age, friendly yet reserved in character, McSwain greeted us and invited us to sit down in arm chairs, as he took an arm chair right to my left. How strange it seemed to me in a way to be sitting there again with McSwain. Strange because even though he feigned not recognizing me at first, I knew McSwain couldn't possibly have forgotten the last time I had sat down with him in his office, and the peculiar circumstances which had brought me there.
Obviously McSwain preferred for my past chapter to remain closed, and as we sat there I didn't reopen it. But how strange it felt to know that I made it this far, that I was now in my last day of law school, that I was about to graduate and become a lawyer.
McSwain knew why I had come, and either I had handed him a paper regarding the spelling test, or he already had one in his hand; he seemed somewhat amused as he said something about a "spelling test." I, on the other hand, wasn't at all amused; I began expatiating about how law exams should test our abilities to write in detail about legal subjects. I felt nothing short of carefully written papers could show the student's knowledge.
Although McSwain listened and affably nodded his head, it soon became apparent that he really didn't care about what I was saying. I also realized that although I had always regarded McSwain with a certain respect, I hardly felt any admiration for him. To be sure, he was widely respected in the community, especially the legal community, for his understanding of the law. But really, he was a little man. His job was to simply scurry about the halls of this law school, to keep things running smoothly, to avoid problems, to live a comfortable but uneventful life.
Realizing there was no more to say, I saw it was time to take my leave. The black-haired fellow and I stood, thanked McSwain for his time (realizing nothing would be done) and we walked back out into the hall. I was likewise about to take my leave of the black-haired fellow when he handed me a book, or a thick magazine, which I immediately opened. It was quickly apparent this book was something like a high school year book, with pictures of people with whom I had attended law school.
What caught my attention was something written on one page toward the front of the book: some handwriting in ink. As I began reading it, I realized it was written to me. I also quickly realized it was written in Latin. Although my Latin was rusty, I was able to understand the writing, and I was pleasantly surprised to see what it said. It had been written by a fellow law student, someone who had been reading my dreams.
I knew quite a few people read my dreams; it wasn't uncommon for me to receive comments about them. But this person was exceptionally effusive in praising my writing. The dreams had been so powerful, apparently they had affected the person's whole life, and the person was extremely grateful. I was quite surprised to hear all of this, for I had recently been questioning what I hoped to achieve by writing my dreams. I seemed to have reached a point where I questioned the direction which my writing was taking, wondering if I really understood the purpose of my writing. Thus this message was quite welcome to me, and it lent me encouragement to continue with my dream-writing.
On the opposite page was still another laudatory message concerning my dreams, also written in Latin, by yet a second person. If I looked through the book, would I find even more messages?
As I had been reading the inscriptions, I had walked down some stairs to the basement of the school. I seemed to have some purpose in mind for going to the basement, although the purpose wasn't entirely clear. Once in the basement I found myself in a large hallway which appeared to have been decked out for some festive occasion. Only gradually did I recognize I was actually in the basement of Grant Junior High School. It looked as if some displays had been set up around the perimeter of the hallway, perhaps for a science show. Banners and crape paper were hanging from the ceiling, hanging so low that I even had to duck my head to avoid hitting anything.
Then I noticed McSwain on the other side of a large table piled high with items. He was scurrying about, apparently having left his office about the same time I had and having descended to the basement. I didn't want to talk with him again; I tried to position myself to avoid being seen by him. He probably felt the same way, being busy scurrying about attending to his school duties. What I did notice was that he was so short he didn't have to duck down like I did to avoid running into anything.
His physical side somehow seemed to reflect what was taking place here in the basement. I now realized this wasn't just a science show in the basement: this was the actual science department of the school. How tawdry it was, stuck down here out of sight. Clearly this was part of the problem of our school system, as well as being run by short little men like McSwain; science wasn't being given the attention in our schools which it should have. Sure, there was enough room for a short man to walk here; but not all men were that short. The science department definitely needed to be expanded.
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