The word is used in multiple senses, but the one that I am concerned with here is educational cramming. I know many of you do it. I’ve crammed too, as many times as I haven’t, so I feel like sharing my observations with you.
Cramming is inevitable if you participate in organized education, where there are various deadlines to follow. There are monstrosities, such as midterms and finals, papers, not to mention the weekly reflections that one demented professor demanded from her students. All these require you to cram.
I’ve done several types of cramming. The first involves absolutely no preparation at all – you cruise through and then cram for the deadline. I don’t have the mental sturdiness for this type of cramming – it requires the ability to skim smoothly the surface of your material, allowing no questions to raise their ugly heads and disturb your lack of concern. As a result, I feel mightily frustrated and vent left and right – just ask the dishes.
The second type of cramming is a subvariety of the first, and I’ve done it only once in my life. You skip studying during the semester but plan and plot the way you’ll cheat during the exam. I did this for my Thracian language course, because I was curious about cheating. So I took pains preparing elaborate cheat sheets, rolling them into itsy-bitsy tiny scrolls, and marking them off so that they be easily accessible during the exam. I forget how they were arranged on my person – something about socks and belts, but I can’t be sure. What I remember clearly is that I couldn’t immediately find the right scroll to cheat from. I fussed and fumbled, causing extreme distress to those of my classmates who were experts in cheating and who relied on seamless seemingness. I got an A on this exam but it was mostly improvisation – if you don’t know it, Thracian is all about goats. Indeed, goats greatly influenced the ancient Greeks, according to the professor who taught the course, and I knew enough about Greek culture. For more info on goats in Ancient Greek, check Hansen & Quinn’s exercise sentences.
The third type is my favorite. I go through the course thinking about what I am learning. I dream about weird configurations. I go to Hawaii, taking all my materials with me, because the day I come back, I have to give a presentation on the manuscripts of Tours. I hate the course but jog along the beach and think about my presentation and how I can fake it. In the process, I envision the various scripts and make up stories for each. The ugly-faced questions are caterpillars. I just love this kind of cramming! I come back and do my presentation on my toes, ready for every contingency.
You tell me now if there are more cramming styles; if I am boxified with respect to cramming, I yearn to be enlightened.