One of the great things about being human is always being able to improve your craft. As much as I wish I could have been a perfect student by now (six years in higher education), I continue to learn about myself, skills I want to develop, and habits I fall back on. Here are three ideas that I want to reflect and expand upon to hopefully serve me in the future.
Without a doubt, getting feedback is one of the most important aspects of my learning. Making sure that the feedback is received early and often is just as important. A personal pitfall of mine is placing myself within the trap of thinking that I should not ask for help when I have fallen behind. I always deceive myself into believing that I will ask for help once I have caught up to the current lecture. However, I need this message to get lodged into my head. I will always be behind! Therefore, I should never be using that reasoning to justify me not asking for help, otherwise I will never get to it. I know that it hurts my pride to admit when I am struggling but asking for help often saves me so much time and alleviates me of so much pressure. It is funny and a bit sad to realize that I know what I need but find myself always looking for reasons to justify why I should not ask for help. Just do it! In addition to feedback being received early and often, I have found honest and raw feedback from my peers to be just as pivotal for my success. Getting genuine feedback from peers who understand the difficulty of learning the same material as me makes the learning much more engaging and less daunting. Within the context of feedback, it is very empowering and validating to be able to freely express my concerns without worrying about the power dynamic and politics that can be present when engaging with professors.
Focused and Diffused Approach to Learning
This is an idea that still requires a lot of exploring on my part, but I found it to be a reoccurring theme as I struggled through my lecture. I believe it is safe to assume that being focused is great, but sometimes I felt as if it also hindered my learning as well. Perhaps my gaze was too focused on following through with my notes and textbook in a rigid and linear way. When my attention was more diffused and freer with no specific structure to follow, I often found myself being more capable of breaking down information and finding a spot for it in my concept map of the content. In the same way that reflection does not call upon a concentrated gaze, I feel compelled to begin my study sessions with the same form of diffused thought.
Inspired by the “Math Sorcerer” on YouTube, I want to be fully immersed in a subject matter. This implies that beyond my scheduled studying, I also want to engage in pleasure reading of the material or related material. This idea really appealed to me because I often found myself discontent with the content I was learning. I have a deep appreciation for math, but all the stress associated with deadlines and grades made me want to do anything else but math sometimes. By setting aside a time slot to randomly engage and be okay with not yet knowing math as one reads it, one can not only cultivate their excitement for the subject, but also continue to learn! Whether that engagement is a focused reading with pen and paper at hand, or whether it is a leisurely reading, I can still gain so much from this experience.
For the audience: What are some reoccurring ideas/themes about your own learning processes that you would like to explore?