Teach and be yourself

I recently told my class to work on a new assignment, by reading the questions and answering them on their own. Almost immediately, some students voiced the concern that they hadn’t been taught how to solve the problems. My response was this, “If everything needed to be taught, then nobody would have ever discovered anything in the first place”.

It is important to realize that you have a powerful mind that can learn without the help of your teachers. Always make the effort to think for yourself and make as many connections as you can on your own. This is the way to achieve ownership, as you discover concepts, so they are placed in your long-term memory. When instead you wait for your teacher to tell you every step, you are likely to rely on memorization, which uses short-term memory. Doing this means that concepts are soon forgotten when you stop practicing.

I believe my students could have figured out how to solve the problems on their own. Indeed, one of the students did come up with a good strategy that got us started on finding a solution. For some, the issue was giving up far too easily, even before reading the question carefully. Remember that most people give up before making a single attempt when faced with a challenge. The best learners are willing to struggle, since they know this leads to improvement. Failure will make you stronger when you benefit from it. It also makes it possible to recognize and truly celebrate your successes when they come eventually.

Remember also that learning is an active process. Make sure you are participating during each lesson by asking and answering questions or volunteering to present your ideas to the class. Always do your best thinking, never worrying about mistakes, since they are just an opportunity to learn.

Younger children are much less worried about their mistakes and we all need to be more like them. Robin Sharma in his books, mentions the need to find your authentic self. This is the person you were when you were first born. Over time as you grew up, you learned to; worry about what others think so that you stopped participating fully, to not be silly or have too much fun, to not voice your thoughts or even to leave your thinking up to others, to dream smaller dreams for your future, to be passive and follow the crowd.

I suggest to you that making some changes to your habits, which you now do automatically without actively thinking about them, would serve you very well on your journey through life. You may need to “unlearn” some things you have been taught, to recapture your greatest self. In the words of Shakespeare, “… to thine own self be true”.

In what ways can you be true to yourself, and find ways to take more risks? Will you make the time to do your own thinking in order to exercise your mind or leave it up to others? Thanks for reading!

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