You shouldn’t listen to me. I was a bad student myself. But I’ve managed to get to this point in life, and I have some thoughts. If you are struggling in class. If you cannot get the grades you need. Or if you’re having a hard time focusing, try this:
Teach yourself: Not everyone is blessed with great teachers and mentors—and even when you have them, they don’t stick around forever—so you need to support yourself, build yourself up, and be curious on your own. Read lots of books, experiment with many hobbies, and explore new skills. Lessons will come your way when the time is right, and as the ancient Chinese saying goes: “When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready… The teacher will Disappear.”
Focus on projects, not grades: Start making and doing a lot. Welcome failure and rejections. Be innovative and creative. Be vulnerable and daring. There aren’t grades to measure those aspects in school; the curriculum rarely teaches students to create prolifically because teachers aren’t able to grade everything. Never mind the grades! Your audience is bigger than your instructor, so do more.
Document your journey: Keep track of what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and what you learned along the way. Documenting is a great way to reflect on your approach, but it’s also an opportunity to make something tangible to share with others. Sharing knowledge is teaching, and teaching is one of the best ways to learn.
Allow knowledge to fill slowly: School rushes you to memorize information in a short amount of time, but your brain is a porous container. As you fill it with new knowledge, you’ll find that concepts, formulas, and techniques will leak out. When you can’t retain it all, don’t fret. Knowledge does not happen with a flick of a switch. If it’s relevant, it’ll come up again, and the more you’re exposed to it, the more you’ll recognize it, and the better you’ll be at memorizing it next time. No need to cram; there is no test when it comes to life experience. You know what you know. When the time comes, you’ll be surprised by what’s left in your brain.
Not everyone is destined to be a great student. Some find school boring, some can’t afford it, and some struggle with authority. I understand. I love learning, but I hate being taught. If you’re like me, you probably had someone tell you you can’t do something unless someone certified graciously teaches you. I’m not certified, but whatever it is that you want to learn, I allow you. Go ahead. Be rebellious.
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