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Finals week philosophies

Laker Notes


KWARTLERIt’s that time of year when high school students begin to feel Walden. As though every door we try to open has a Locke. So to escape these upperclassmen blues, I’ve turned to some philosophers for cues.

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle may be the only Greek figures who have yet to appear in a Rick Riordan novel, but their philosophies are their real claim to fame. They shared the belief that rhetoric and poetry are manipulative devices, thanks to the omission of facts and reliance on intense emotions. Maybe reading some cheerful poetry would keep students upbeat, but my English class is too busy studying Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven.”

René Descartes, whose last name translates to “cards,” isn’t known for Texas Hold’em. Descartes had a more mathematical plot in mind. Yes, he created the Cartesian Coordinates, the fabled plane that torments geometry students. Descartes’ philosophy is common during finals week, where students have learned to doubt everything except the indisputable, even though Descartes’ theory itself is disputable. But his most quotable line, “I think, therefore I am,” does offer some hope.

I think I will survive finals; therefore I am going to.

Now, if you are struggling with understanding concepts you forgot from September, don’t worry if you Kant! Immanuel Kant believed that the world itself is unknowable. Although he was referring to Chipotle re-opening, it still applies to tests.

How students fit three encyclopedias’ worth of information on a 3-by-5-inch note card is a mystery.

Friedrich Nietzsche was not a fan of conformity. So yes, although wearing sweatpants like everyone else during finals week is fun, this comfortable conformity can lead to napping during tests.

So what should we do?

We could declare every classroom a Marxist communist society and insist that teachers take the test too, but we’d probably fall asleep in our sweatpants. Fortunately, the answer can be found in the English curriculum.

We need to build cabins in the woods.

I’m not just saying this for the sake of being Thoreau. I mean, Transcendentalism sounds pretty good when finals week is the other option.

Going off into the wilderness and living in a cabin has a lot of benefits. First of all, our parents will be happy. They won’t have to worry about us failing finals and living with them for the next 39 years, because we will already have a house. Secondly, we will be able to relax while surrounded by nature rather than Scantrons. Plus, building a cabin won’t be very expensive — I plan on using my textbooks; at these prices and weights, they are definitely more reliable than bricks or wood.

Our form of entertainment will no longer be the “How many hours of sleep can we function on?” game. In fact, if we go now, we may even meet up with Leonardo DiCaprio, hopefully before that bear does.

Alas, there is no Wi-Fi in the woods, so we must return to civilization. Back to our finals, where in less than two hours, 20 percent of a grade that we’ve worked on for months will be determined. As much as I wish I could say that they will occur “Nevermore,” I cannot. Like everyone else, I will probably leave my finals convinced that as the late, great philosopher Yogi Berra would say: “We made too many wrong mistakes.”

Lake Oswego High School junior Sarah Kwartler is one of two Laker Notes columnists for The Review. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..