Friday, September 15, 2006


Recently, I've been noticing that we have become obsessed with the complexity of life. In order to eat more healthily, we have to follow some fancy diet. In order to discuss an issue properly we must use confusing language and a pedantic structure. By the way, I do see the irony of choosing such a complicated word.

Yet, people used to – and continue to – use very simplistic guidelines to dictate their eating habits; these people have lived very healthy lives. The most effective discussions and arguments are those where both parties fully understand each other.

Furthermore, in trying to do perform a task, like running or golfing for instance, the best athletes of these worlds do not break down each aspect of their stride or swing into its components while performing. It would just ruin everything.

There's something very Zen about this way of thinking. "Be the golf ball. Be the shoe."

If you have to think about too many things at once, you aren't giving the overall task the attention it deserves.

In the same way, education -- or any type of learning for that matter -- does not need to be difficult or overly complicated. The methods that work are the ones that are the simplest.

Let me ask you a question: What does the ideal student do?

Seriously think about it. What does the ideal student do?

I can only speak for myself, but I'm going to assume you said something like:
  • They study well before a test comes.
  • They don't get drunk a day before their exam.
  • They complete their assignments on time.
  • They use their time effectively for studying.
  • They attend class.
  • They pay attention.
  • They have opened their textbook for the purpose of reading it.
There is nothing complicated on this list. Yet you may or may not be surprised at how many people do not do these simple things. I'm not going to say that they are all easy to do, but they are definitely not hard to understand.

I was chatting with a friend of mine, whom I would say does extremely well in school - while still having an active social life and an attractive girlfriend. He was mentioning that he doesn't do anything crazy to study for his tests. He devotes a lot of time to his studies; takes notes; reviews them; and takes breaks when he needs to.

By the way, if you are thinking something like: "Oh he's probably really smart, but I can't do that." Let's consider two things:
1) If you are smart and you don't do anything for a test, will you do as well as you could have? Definitely not. It is possible for smart people to screw things up. I have seen it too many times. I'm guessing you've seen it too.
2) If you don't think yourself intelligent (which I disagree with, BTW), won't a concerted effort help to improve your grade? Definitely.

If you study more, you will do better than if you don't. That's it. Simple.

If a technique is not working for you, drop it. (Hint: Don't watch TV while studying.)

Before you concentrate on awkward techniques and quick & easy methods, remember simplicity. It works much better and doesn't clutter up your mind. When live seems to be really complicated, take a step back and reflect. It’s all gravy from the outside looking in.

If you enjoyed these learning tips and motivational strategies, maybe you'll enjoy the other posts. Please bookmark this page (Ctrl-D) or check out the archive/categories to the right. Better yet, tell a friend! (Click the envelope below this.)

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