Friday, November 16, 2012

Study Smarter Not Harder

Older son is back at reading the book Study Smarter Not Harder. I tried requiring him to read it as a proactive plan to learn what study techniques work for him so he would not waste his time or fail at his academic work twice in the last two years. He did not comply. I was worn down. I let it go.

Now that he is struggling with the difficult chemistry course and is not getting what I call decent grades on the quizzes and tests he has concrete proof that he needs help learning different study strategies than he already knows. I mentioned grades but the fact is the larger issue is learning. Learning needs to happen. Period.

Actually my son needs to "learn how to learn". If he is to go to college any time he must learn "the school way" and that requires reading through lots of written material, studying and memorizing for quizzes and tests. He needs to know how to summarize and to skim through the fluff. He needs to be able to do careful reading in order to extract the essential knowledge from written text.

So this month he has started reading Study Smarter, Not Harder again. I am forcing it.

The book has ideas that are not in my own head, so the book is superior to me teaching this information.

The goal is for my son to be open minded, look for ideas to try out, and to have freedom to reject ideas that do not work or that he just doesn't feel like trying right now. Hopefully over time as he finds what works and what does not work he will re-open his mind to the weirder ideas and give them a try.

In a conversation between my husband and I and our son today he said he does not want to learn from someone else such as this book or me or my husband, he wants the learning to come from his own mind. Yet he admits he does not know other study and learning strategies so he can't teach himself. I would like to tell you what fallacy he is committing with his illogical argument but I have a splitting headache from stress and am completely worn out from lack of sleep so that term is unable to be retrieved from my brain at the moment. I know one of the fallacies is this exact thing...


Xa Lynn said...

I don't understand why he wants to waste his time reinventing the wheel either. All the scientific studies out there that demonstrate the different ways that people learn and organize information... all the anecdotal evidence from other people's experiences in trying to organize new information so they can understand and retain it... why does he want to waste his time trying to figure out all the different ways this can be done, (instead of taking advantage of a list developed by people using scientific evidence of how the brain actually works), and then spend more time applying each and every one of these methods (instead of focusing on the ones that evidence shows would best fit his learning style).

Sometimes I think one of my daughters is so convinced she is going to fail at something, that she actually sets up the parameters of a task so that they ensure that she WILL fail... as if she doesn't want the responsibility for trying under conditions that where she is not absolutely convinced she can succeed, so she simply ensures that she will fail, and at some psychological level she can still tell herself "Well, I would have succeeded if... so I'm not really as bad at X as my performance indicates."

It drives me nuts. Could this be what your older son is doing?

Ahermitt said...

Hmmm... my son said that a couple of years ago. He doesn't like people teaching at him. He prefers to gather information and learn. With that said, he allowed me to help him gather information he could learn from on his own, until he learned to gather his own information.

ChristineMM said...

Yes I do believe that the perfectionism has reared its head and the fear of failure inspires procrastination and derailing to do other things (YouTube, websurfing, whatever).

Then by avoiding the task one somehow feels they can avoid responsibility for the failure.

By procrastinating until the deadline is here and then the work is not done the person can say "I ran out of time" or "I had this important thing to do last night so I could not do the work last night as I had planned."

The whole thing is maddening when you know a kid has potential and just does not use it.

And then to see failure stacking up.

My son is working on this with a counselor now to the tune of about 4 hours door to door and $150 a week.

What a shame we couldn't work it out ourselves and save our time, energy, and money.

Deborah said...

I got this book for my eldest suffered a similar fate. He finally figured out how to study on his own, but might have saved a lot of trouble if he'd taken it seriously! (I have at least one other similar book in my homeschooling/pedagogy/etc bookcase.)