“Tejas is not at all serious about his studies nowadays. He is seen in front of the television or chatting on mobile or Face book with his friends or playing computer games all the time. He is in the ninth standard now, next year he will be in the tenth; the most important year in his academic career. I tried to make him aware, scolded him but all in vain! I take so many efforts for him but he is not at all bothered. If I wake him up early in the morning, he does not get ready quickly. He will take at least half an hour to forty five minutes to brush his teeth and get ready. Even if he sits for studying, he wants me to sit with him. How can I sit with him when so many household chores are pending? Even when I come to give him tea, he will not start his studies himself. I have to suggest him as to which subject to study. Even after that he will not start; I have to tell him how to study also. Then if I go to finish my household chores and to prepare his Tiffin, he will either follow me in the kitchen or will call me every now and then. Even after coming back from school, he keeps wasting time in computer games or television. I understand that he can’t study immediately after coming from school and he has to even go for tuitions after that but that doesn’t mean that he should pass two hours lousily. He doesn’t even feel like getting good marks. He is intelligent but nowadays he doesn’t concentrate on studies at all and if I ask him to do that, he starts sulking. Then it becomes difficult for me to even send him for his tuitions and the sulking continues even after coming back from tuitions. When I asked him about all these changes in his behavior, he says that he doesn’t feel like studying at all. He answers very rudely. I am just helpless; nothing is working with him. Will you talk to him? Please find out what’s going on in his mind?” A tensed 40 year old lady was complaining all these things about his son.
She was very annoyed, depressed and tensed. Her son was also with her. He was a tall and smart boy with irritated expressions on his face. After listening to all her complaints and concerns, I told her to wait outside so that I could talk to her son. When she went out, I started the conversation with her son. He was irritated due to his routine of school, tuitions, study and homework. He felt that many of his friends were getting good marks even with less studying. “The basic thing is, why should I study? I don’t want to become snobbish like other students who study all the time. They get good marks because of mugging up and they feel proud of it. They ignore us or humiliate us. We are far better than them; at least we get along with all the other classmates. But even the teachers praise these so-called intelligent students as if they have got all the wisdom in this world. I just hate this type of behavior. They are comparing with us with the others all the time, rascals! That’s why I don’t feel like studying. I don’t want to do the typical doctor or engineering career; I want to go for the air force.” These were his overall complaints and thoughts. Studying is just mugging up, flattering teachers, getting good marks, being snobbish and making others forget about all your mistakes; this was his overall definition of studies. It means that there was a very negative side of studying in his mind and along with that he had seen just the behavioral side of the studious students and had himself created such an image. So it was very necessary to talk to him about what is the meaning of studies and why to study? The process of getting new information, understanding it, revising it and inculcating it in the mind can be called as study, revision and practice. I asked him questions with many examples like do you understand the equation of maths as soon as it is taught in the class? He said, “No, I have to revise it two or three times and then sometimes have to ask the teacher again and then have to solve some more equations and then some different equations with different methods have to be solved.” So, this is the process of inculcating certain things in your mind and this is called as study. To inculcate certain information through reading, contemplation, understanding and practice is called as study. We have to do a certain process to inculcate any type of knowledge in our mind. He seemed to agree with this point but the question was still there as to why should he study? I asked him the same question. He said, “Because others are doing that, because my parents are telling me to do so, to get good marks etc.” I asked him, “Why do others or your parents say so?” He replied that if he studies well, he will get a good job.
‘Then what difference will it make?’ I asked him.
‘Nothing! But I will be able to buy a new car and a bungalow; will be able to go for long trips.’
‘Then, what will happen next?’
‘I will get a good wife.’
‘I will be able to go for parties; it will increase my social status.’
‘I will save money. I will be able to go to a world tour. The money can be used for medicines or hospitalization. My friends and relatives will praise me.’
‘But when will these things happen?’
‘Once I get a good job.’
‘How will you get a good job?’ He got confused at this question. Then he said, ‘Once I get admission in the air force course.’
‘How will you get the admission?’
‘If I get 90-95% marks, then.’
‘How will you get those marks?’
‘If I study hard.’
‘See, you yourself gave me the answer. I assume that now you must have understood the importance of studying and what is the meaning of studying. Is there any other question in your mind?’He said, ‘I agree with all these things but still I get bored. I get fed up of studying all the time but mom doesn’t even listen to me.’ Then I told him that now that he has understood the meaning of studying, studies can be different. ‘It’s not only related to academic curriculum. As mentioned before, studying does not have any limitation of a subject. You can study many different subjects like sports, various types of entertainment, many things in the nature, different people around us etc. There are varieties of subjects around us. To understand these things, inculcating them in you and to enjoy it, is a part of studying. For example, if you go to watch a movie in the theater and the previous show is still on, during that time you can study the surroundings, people around you and many other things. You pass your time very easily at that time. Even when you go for a picnic to some good place surrounded by nature or to see some fort or monument, at that time you like roaming in the nature, watching different types of flowers, leaves, trees; you remember the lessons in history when you visit some fort. You sometimes visualize the historic incidences at that time. This is also a type of study. Even while chatting with your friends, everybody in the group may have different opinions about the same subject, this can also be a topic of study. This is the final exam of the ninth standard and next year you will be in the tenth standard. We by default decide that all these are subjects of tension. This thing increases the trouble and it leads to a dislike for studies. There is nothing abnormal in this feeling. But at the same time we can condition our mind to enjoy many things and entertainment all the time. But if you plan the academic year properly and increase your confidence by studying, then you need not have to discontinue all the other pleasures and entertainment. If you stop all other routine chores and activities like television, cinemas, picnics etc. then it will become monotonous for you.’ He was happy to know that he need not have to discontinue his favorite activities just for the sake of studies. I told him that we will study about the techniques of studying in the next meeting.
We discussed what study is and why to study? We also discussed the tensions and reasons behind these tensions. We understood all the misunderstandings in the parents as well as the children’s mind. Now the important question is how to study? The general process is revising all the subjects after they are taught in the school; restudying them in the tuitions, mugging up the answers, reading the lessons again and again etc. These are all typical traditional ways of studying. Even after knowing the advantages and disadvantages of these ways, still parents pressurize their children to use them. “If you get up early in the morning and study then you can remember it very well. I have used this method and that is why I could get higher education and now I am successful in my career.” “I knew that my entire future career depends on the marks of the 10th and 12th standard. I was easy till the eighth and ninth standard but in the tenth standard I just forgot about everything and concentrated whole heartedly on my studies. I used all methods of reading and mugging up; studied well in tuitions and school and that is why I got higher education and now I am leading a comfortable life.”
These types of pressurized dialogues are hammered on the child’s mind. The school/tuition teachers also give similar suggestions. If we try to understand and master the techniques of studying then it will be easier for us to study anything and everything.
|Types of studying:|
|Studying too much and with stress||Studying with a normal pace||Smart studying|
|1) It is good if the subject is understood but it is not mandatory; writing the answer in the exam is more important.||There is no compulsion of understanding the subject.||Understanding of the subject is very important.|
|2) It is important to succeed in the exam with the help of mugging up, reading and sufficient revision.||Studying as per convenience but getting through the exam using any method.||Studying subjects by differentiating them in difficult, medium and easy category.|
|3) Percentage is more important.||Getting as much marks as possible.||Targeted study. Enjoying the procedure of studying and understanding the importance of exams.|
|4) Less marks lead to disappointment.||Less marks leads to reluctance and changes the view towards education.||Less marks is not a failure. Finding out different options.|
|5) Fear of examination.||Attraction towards those things which are just for time pass.||Reconstruction of targets, reducing stress and targeting new goals as per capacity.|
|6) No other hobbies or extra activities other than studies.||Unable to decide goal. Confused behavior.||Equal importance to studies, all hobbies and extra-curricular activities.|
|7) Stressed mind and feeling of fatigue.||Stress of deciding direction and annoyance about life.||Due to prioritizing of subjects, there is no stress or tension of studies.|
|8) Burden of unreasonable and high expectations of family, friends and relatives.||No categorization of difficult, medium and easy subjects. So no specific direction of study.||Over all planning of study and other hobbies and extra-curricular activities leads to guaranteed success.|
|9) Failure in the exam leads to anger about life and no future in any career.||Studying just because others are saying so.||Studying for pleasure. Career will happen automatically.|
|10) The exam paper should always be easy for all the difficult subjects. This stubbornness can lead to more stress and more failure.||No consistency in success due to unplanned study.||Giving the exam without any stress or thoughts about success and failure.|
This is a technique of smart studying; if you can inculcate it then it is easy to study and get good results. Following are some of the techniques of smart studying. While studying always bifurcate between easy and difficult subjects and use a particular way of studying. For example:
1) List out the equations for maths, algebra, geometry and chemistry. Make an independent list of theory and theorems of geometry on a different paper and put these papers in your room, where you can easily see them daily.
2) Study of Science: Bifurcate topics; list out the points in each topic because it is important to write the points in science. So either you can remember the points or sometimes even the flow-chart may help you.
3) Languages: Brief and detailed answers are expected. You should understand the contents of a lesson and then should write the answers in your own words. You need to work on increasing your grasping power.
You can make your studies interesting. You can remember the words and sentences by reading and mugging them up but the real problem faced at the time of the exam is that if you tend to forget the beginning of these words or sentences or sometimes you forget one or two words or sentences in between then it breaks your whole link. This experience is very common in children and so I suggest them to use some smart methods.