It may seem obvious for a student to be required to study. To truly understand what the sages were trying to tell us (since they didn’t waste time on the obvious) we need to think about exactly what “study” means and how you do it. Too many classes merely require students to memorize without actually knowing or understanding the content. If you were to ask the student a question on the material a week after finals they don’t remember a thing, as though someone wiped the hard drive clean.
In today’s day and age, where we hear about fake news more than reliable news, it is all that more important for people to know how to study to help them delineate truth from falsehood.
Study is a process of actively engaging in understanding the material and thinking about the implications and consequences of that knowledge. It is not passively swallowing what you are told and then rotely spitting it back, even if you sound knowledgeable when you do so. Study is a dynamic process of using every moment to its fullest to learn all you can, not halfheartedly (or should it be mindedly?) paying attention. Think total immersion, a term often associated with the best way to learn a language.
Study is step one of the 48 ways to learning (mentioned in the previous post). How many school’s curriculum includes teaching children how to actively engage in understanding the topic and applying the information in real life? I think a good illustration of the difference between study and rote spit back is an incident that occurred just this week. I was working with a high school student on some fraction problems. She was asked to reduce the example to its simplest form. One such example was 10/3. She did not do it correctly so I was showing her how a fraction is just another way to write a division problem, which she can successfully do. The fact that she can pass a math test, but after all her years of learning about division, fractions and decimals does not understand that they are each different ways of saying the same thing means that she does not really understand math. Interestingly enough she will tell you she is not a math student. This simply means that she does not actively engage in understanding math instead of memorizing rote, and disconnected, rules. If she did actively engage in the study of math she would have cohesive knowledge and understand how the different rules work together and are often simply the reciprocal of each other e.g. addition in relation to subtraction, multiplication in relation to division, understanding the relationship between addition, multiplication and exponents, etc.
Perhaps one obstacle to the study process is the learner being reprimanded for asking questions when they are simply asking in an effort to study/understand a topic. The need to cover curriculum content can be prohibitive, but students must feel that their curiosity is encouraged and not sacrificed on the altar of “moving on” or “covering ground”.
What are some ways you can address the students need to feel safe in expressing their focused curiosity and your need to continue on with the program?