The 3rd Most Common Nightmare (and I’ve got it)

Is Your Child Frustrated With School? ::

According to a recent survey of some 2,000 adults, the third most common recurring nightmare, outpaced only by dreams of falling or being chased, is having to go back to school (

I haven’t been sleeping well lately, mostly because of bad dreams. And the nightmare I get most frequently–nothing else is even close–is about being forced to go back to school. Usually high school, although college sometimes sneaks in. As for grade school, well, my experience there was too horrible to dream about.

Among the most common motifs in back-to-school nightmares are: you have to take a test and you don’t know the subject; you’re late for an important test; you can’t find your locker, or else you can’t remember the combination; you don’t know what room you’re supposed to be in; they’ve taken away your diploma or degree and you have to (don’t have a choice!) earn it all over again; you’re in a crowded gym or cafeteria and suddenly discover that you’re naked–and I’ve had ’em all.

Almost none of the people in the survey said they had nice dreams about school. Almost all the dreams were bad. Does that suggest there might be something wrong with the way we conduct “education”? I mean, if people are still dreading it 30 or 40 years since they were last in school, maybe we’re doin’ it wrong. And why do those nighmares wait so long before they come after you?

I read that these anxiety-laden back-to-school dreams mean you’re anxious about something in your life. Well, who isn’t? My country will be murdered if Democrats win the election, my blog is shrinking, and I’m rather anxious about being unable to finish writing Behold! But these are not weird or unusual anxieties.

But then having bad dreams about going back to school is not weird or unusual, either.


15 comments on “The 3rd Most Common Nightmare (and I’ve got it)

  1. I occasionally still have the teacher’s version of the dream, i.e., I have to GIVE a final exam in a course that I haven’t been to all quarter. Sometimes I have a supersized version in which I haven’t been there all quarter AND I can’t find the room (which doesn’t really matter since I haven’t put the exam together yet anyway and the students and I will all have to wing it). In this version, you’ll notice, there isn’t even a scintilla of logic, considering that it assumes the course has been going on all quarter without the professor, that the students have shown up for classes and a final exam anyway, and no one seems to have mentioned this situation to the administration.

    I’m not sure I’d call this kind of thing a genuine nightmare, though — more like an anxiety dream. My most frequent anxiety dream is not being able to find my car. One night a few weeks ago I must have been VERY anxious about things, because not only couldn’t I find my car in the dream, but I couldn’t even find the parking lot! 🙂

    1. I used to dream that I was driving my car without my glasses, couldn’t see–and sometimes without functional brakes, either. But at least I’ve never dreamed about having to GIVE a test!

  2. Funny enough, I’ve had dreams like that. I’m usually back in high school and deathly afraid I won’t be able to graduate.

  3. I think that the basic structure of schools, at least the elementary and secondary schools, is unnatural. While I believe that children need to learn discipline, schools were little more than a prison, which kept me away from the things I wanted to learn about. I would have been much better off in some sort of apprenticeship.

  4. Actually, I always loved school. (It’s a girl thing. You guys wouldn’t understand it.) 🙂 I even remember crying with my best friend at our college graduation because we loved school so much that we couldn’t bear the thought that it was over. And it wasn’t because we didn’t want to get a job, either. I’d already been working summers and Saturdays to pay college expenses that weren’t covered by my scholarships, and we were both headed to graduate school — although, come to think of it, we both dropped out after a year because we didn’t think much of the faculty at that particular graduate school. So I job-hopped my way from an entry-level job into a good editing career, then joined the Air Force, and finally went back to graduate school 15 years after college, when I was still on full-time active duty in the Air Force.

    1. Oddly enough, I thought I enjoyed high school and college while I was actually there. But like so many others, the bad dreams about high school only came along many years later. Now I wonder why–high school wasn’t that awful for me. But grade school was, big-time.

  5. I resisted school, form about the second day. It was horrid. I would venture that I got roughly 2 year’s worth of learning over the course of 12 years. That’s a poor rate of return.

    1. They thought Iwas stupid because I needed glasses and couldn’t read the blackboard. I was just a little kid, I didn’t know things weren’t supposed to be blurry and unreadable. Good thing my family finally figured out what was wrong.

  6. There were some things I liked about school– I loved learning and having friends –but mostly I hated school –so much wasted class time waiting for other students go through the hoops, and conflicts with bullies. However, I loved college and became a middleschool/high school teacher. Later, I homeschooled my own kids. They went to college/graduate school, loved it, and have successful, diverse careers. They often thank me for the homeschooling. I still have nightmares about school, but my kids do not.

    1. They don’t have nightmares about school because they didn’t go.
      It’s strange, though. Grade school was hell for me, but I never dream about that. High school was sort of fun–at least I thought so at the time–but that’s where almost all the nightmares come from. I wonder why that is.

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