Did I Miss Anything? Everything You Need to Know About the Poem

The poem “Did I Miss Anything?” is written from two distinct points of view. They are the student’s point of view and the teacher’s point of view.

Did I Miss Anything?

Introduction to The Writer of Did I Miss Anything

Introduction to The Writer of Did I Miss Anything
Tomm Wayman

Tomm Wayman was born in 1945 in Hawkesbury, Ontario, Canada. Wayman has lived most of his life in British Columbia. He studied at the University of British Columbia and the University of California. He holds Associate Professor Emeritus of English status from the University of Calgary, where he taught from 2002 to 2010. In 2007 he was the Fulbright Visiting Chair in creative writing at Arizona State University and has also taught at Colorado State University and Wayne State University. For decades, Wayman has had a particular interest in people writing about their own workplace experiences, including how their jobs affect their lives off work. He has composed a number of poems. Some of them include: For and Against the Moon (1974), Money and Rain (1975), Free Time (1977), Living on the Ground (1980), My Father's Cup (2002) and Dirty Snow (2012).

Background of the Poem

The poem is a compilation of all the answers the poet wanted to give to his students who asked him the same question (Did I miss anything?) when he was teaching at a college. An absent student shows up and asks whether "anything" happened in the class. The assumption behind the question is that all this work by the teacher doesn't really amount to "anything." So the question belittles all the effort the teacher has put into doing his or her job.

The poem "Did I Miss Anything?" has a mocking tone, and when people are angry they say things they don't mean. The speaker in the poem is pretending to answer the student's question honestly but in fact is taking a round-about way to say to the student that there's something wrong with the way the student has phrased the question.

Poem & Summary

(Question frequently asked by students after missing a class...)

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here

we sat with our hands folded on our desks

in silence, for the full two hours.

Everything. I gave an exam worth

40 percent of the grade for this term

and assigned some reading due today

on which I’m about to hand out a quiz worth 50 percent.

Nothing. None of the content of this course has value or meaning

Take as many days off as you like:

any activities we undertake as a class

I assure you will not matter either to you or me

and are without purpose.

Everything. A few minutes after we began last time

a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel

or other heavenly being appeared

and revealed to us what each woman or man must do

to attain divine wisdom in this life and the hereafter.

This is the last time the class will meet

before we disperse to bring the good news to all people on earth.

Nothing. When you are not present

how could something significant occur?

Everything. Contained in this classroom

is a microcosm of human experience

assembled for you to query and examine and ponder

This is not the only place such an opportunity has been gathered.

but it was one place

And you weren’t here.

Summary

The poem “Did I Miss Anything?” is written from two distinct points of view. They are the student’s point of view and the teacher’s point of view. The words “nothing” and “everything” represents the student's point of view and the teacher’s point of view respectively.

Stanza one is written from the students' point of view. It reveals the fact that the teacher is missing in the classroom. In the teacher’s absence, the students simply sit in silence with their hands folded on the desks.

Stanza two is written from the teacher’s point of view. It tells how he has given heavily weighted exams, assigned readings, and prepared a quiz. Stanza three represents students' perspectives. Here, a typical student blames that classroom education is valueless, meaningless and a waste of time. It will have no effect or purpose later in life.

However, in stanza four, the poet explains why education is important. It claims that through education a person is enlightened. The fifth stanza questions how anything could possibly be accomplished without a teacher.

The sixth stanza explains the significance of the classroom. The last two one-line stanzas of the poem serve as a message to all doubtful students: they should always be present in the classroom so as to take in all they are able to learn in the “microcosm of human experience”. 

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Top Ten Question Answer

1. What did the students do in the absence of their teacher?

Ans: In the teacher’s absence, the students sat in silence with their hands folded on the desks.

2. What did the angel reveal to the students?

Ans: The angel revealed to the students that each woman or man must do to attain divine wisdom in this life and hereafter.

3. How does the speaker in the first stanza spend time for the full two hours?

Ans: The speaker in the first stanza spends time for the full two hours in complete silence.

4. Why does the speaker in the second stanza think being in the class is important?

Ans: The speaker in the second stanza thinks being in the class is important because things taught in the classroom are asked in the examination.

5. What does the speaker say in the third stanza regarding the value of education?

Ans: The speaker in the third stanza says that education is useless and has no value.

6. What does the last stanza 'but it was one place And you weren't here' suggest?

Ans: The last stanza suggests that the classroom is the only place where there are shared experiences but the students have missed the class.

7. What is the poem about?

Ans: The poem is about the importance of classroom education.

8. Who composed this poem?

Ans: Tom Wayman composed this poem.

9. What is the theme of this poem?

Ans: The theme of the poem is to reveal the importance of the responsibility of the student and the teacher. The students should never miss out on the classroom and the teachers should be regular. They should make the classroom live, interesting, exciting and productive. 

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