Do your own thinking

As I mentioned in the previous post, you need to use the talents you are given, otherwise they are lost. Make sure to exercise your mind every day. Always question things that you are told, so that you deal in facts, and make up your own mind only after doing so. You should never say for example, “I know this math concept works this way, because my teacher said so”. If you are learning things at an appropriate level, then you are capable of understanding everything fully, when you stop to think about it for yourself. Napoleon Hill tells us that the word educate comes from the Latin word educo, which means to draw out. That is, you already have the ability to do anything, inside yourself. It is drawn out of you when a teacher asks you questions and you find the answer from within.

When giving my students a problem to solve, I have observed them to see how they start working on it. Some give up almost immediately, without writing anything down on paper. I suppose they are hoping  for the answer to just appear in their mind, without earning it. Others will go a step further, by shouting out guesses at the answer, again expecting the answer will just come to them without much effort. The key is that you need to give your mind a chance to work out the problem. Start by asking yourself, “what can I do to get started?” Write down any ideas you have on paper and decide that you won’t give up until you have solved the problem. If you already know how to solve it when you first read it, then it’s actually not a problem at all!

For me, it seems I went through school and never really understood much of anything. I was instead just memorizing most things, so that I was prepared for each test, but the knowledge didn’t stick with me. It was only when I found myself in need of understanding that I found it for myself. When I started teaching, I realized that if I was going to explain concepts to students, that I’d better sit down and sort things out on my own first. I discovered that I was able to sit and think on my own, and figure out how the math really worked! Of course, I had always had this ability, but I only started using it when it was necessary to.

In a similar way, I remember riding in the car, before I got my driver’s license, and never paying any attention to the roads, never knowing what direction we were heading. It was only when I started driving myself, that the need to know presented itself. I suddenly had a reason to pay attention and sort out directions, and so I did.

So, what can you do to create your own need for understanding at school? The good news is that when you do your own thinking, your effort pays off in staggering ways in future!

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