Don’t be Mr. Munch

Once upon a time, I had a teacher named Mr. Munch (that’s not an alias, I’m pretty sure he won’t read this if he’s still alive).  He taught a course about psychoactive drugs that was extremely painfully boring.

I’m not sure if he was just bored with his career or if he was really that boring of a person, but his class really sucked the life out of me.  He read definitions from an overhead, and gave multiple choice tests every 2-3 weeks or so.  I never took notes in this class–it wasn’t necessary. I could read the chapters (read: skim the chapters), highlight the terms and definitions that were displayed in the margins the night before a test, and generally get close to 100%.  The funny thing was that my grades on the tests always came back as percentages like 120% or 115%.  Mr. Munch was curving the grades so steeply because no one was passing.

I was slightly dumbfounded when I got my first test back with a grade like this.  How could anyone not ace it unless they were doing absolutely nothing?  Apparently, that was the case.

My point is that Mr. Munch did not do me any favors by teaching this way.  The class was useless, and as soon as I left the classroom after a test the definitions all left my brain immediately.  It didn’t teach me anything about how to function in real life, it didn’t give me useful information about drugs, and it certainly didn’t make me feel like my 3-credits-worth of tuition money was being well-spent.

What it did do for me later was this:

I learned about how the world doesn’t work, mostly reflectively. I can’t apply the methods I used in that course to anything real, but I can see how a lot of times we try to and then wonder why it doesn’t work. In wellness, I can go through the motions and go to the gym everyday and add some veggies to my cart in Wegmans.  But this isn’t enough.  I have to find out why and how I want to be healthy, and what the point is of trying and then not giving up when it feels like I’m failing or beating a dead horse. Mr. Munch was earning a salary for being a boring and ineffective teacher—and maybe it was just the course I took that was boring for him (and thus for me too). So, I could also go through life being slightly useful, and earn a salary. It wouldn’t feel good though.

The real goal is to add value to whatever you’re doing by going a little deeper to find reasons and meaning, and always do a good job, with it sometimes being just because it’s the right thing to do.  It benefits you and others.

4 thoughts on “Don’t be Mr. Munch”

  1. Ooooooohhh .. I was totally Mr. Munch today at the gym and now I’m so mad I want to go back. Great analogy – thanks; I’ll be thinking of him tomorrow when I burn my %%#^ on the treadmill instead of staring off into space in on easy street.

  2. I did the same thing yesterday morning….which is actually when I thought of this story and decided I should share it! I always feel good about going to the gym…but I always feel better if I actually gave it some effort!

  3. Follow-up to Mr. Munchinator: Today, in pilates, I was a rockstar and am pretty sure I haven’t stopped working my abs since about 5:30pm. Only thanks to my embarrassingly slacker-city day yesterday, of course. I now however, have motivation to keep that going as to never feel that way again. Goodbye Mr. Munch!

  4. I love finding motivation in unexpected places! It makes it worth always looking for new little things to help give a nudge—a couple times I even shamelessly watched the Insanity or P90X infomercials while on the elliptical. It made me work harder…so hey, cheers to whatever works!

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