This week’s readings made me realize I should tell y’all something about myself. I’m annoyingly curious. I’m that person who hears the words “I don’t know” and is googling the answer before the sentence is even finished. I’m a strong believer that if we have roughly all of humanity’s knowledge in our pocket, we might as well use it. This curiosity has driven me to waste tons of extra time on various tasks because I want to know just a little bit more.
As I’ve gotten older, this has led to me getting antsy and annoyed at any class that tries to teach me something that I feel won’t lead to a lasting skill or understanding of some sort. From my experience, required classes rarely have more than a 5% application to my research/life, especially if formatted as an information dump. To me, such classes are a waste of my time.
As it turns out, I dislike these courses because they feel mindless to me. I sit in those classes and zone out because enough material is easy/old that it’s difficult to think critically about the information. It’s hard to just accept information as it’s piled on top of you at a rate that doesn’t allow in-depth question/answer sessions.
To combat such classes I’ve started adapting assignments such that they force me to learn something on my own. Instead of throwing data into excel and letting it make an ugly plot, I started taking the time to learn a coding language and analyze the raw data by myself. I ignored software options to calculate peaks and slopes, opting to program derivatives and other things instead. This technique took way more of my time, but it also taught me way more. I was deliberate about my learning and had to think about the content from a variety of angles before I could implement the necessary strategies.
This is to say that while I’m a strong proponent of teachers reworking classes to push students toward mindful learning, sometimes students have to learn to be mindful themselves. We have the ability to turn the tables and say hey, your way isn’t working, but this way worked really well for me.
Ideally, both teacher and student would work towards a mindful learning approach. However, I think this would take extra work for both parties. So my question is, how do we convince people to put in the extra effort? I had wanted to learn to program, so the effort was worth it to understand something I’d been putting off for years. Without that incentive, I think I would have just suffered through the class.