The Secrets of Learning

Written by Ashley Yeh, Junior in high school. CuperTINO, CA.

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In this day and age, it is becoming easier and easier to be lost in the vast amounts of information thrown at you during school. I myself struggled a lot with schoolwork and tests, but, overtime, I’ve learned many helpful tips and strategies to help me succeed:


Growth Mindset. The term “growth mindset” is something that I’ve heard from parents and teachers alike, usually in the context of optimistic tangents about how all students have an equal chance to succeed. Recently, I have found that there is a very good reason why this term is used so often: it is undeniably, doubtlessly true. As someone who use to adopt a fixed mindset, I was very pessimistic about my learning and was bogged down by the idea that I just simply wasn’t “smart enough” for certain topics. However, adopting the growth mindset taught me to believe that, with practice, I could learn anything that I set out to learn. This changed my learning philosophy drastically, and I began to try harder to learn concepts I didn’t understand and ask for help when I needed it, which really benefited me on the long run.

If You're Bored, You're not Learning Anything. I, as well as many others who are guilty of this as well, used to believe in the tried-and-true method of rote memorization. In other words, I used to read my textbooks over and over again as if they were my personal bible, only stopping once I had every single insignificant sentence memorized. Contrary to popular belief, textbooks, which are probably the least interesting things I’ll ever have the pleasure of reading, are not meant to be read over and over again. I was bored, and as a result, I couldn’t concentrate or learn much of anything. To solve this problem, I thought up funny mnemonics and looked up cool facts about whatever topic I was trying to learn in order to pique my interest, which inevitably lead to an increase in the amount of information I was able to retain. Another way I was able to learn more efficiency was by taking notes and actively engaging with the text. So, instead of mindlessly reading a text and ultimately learning nothing, I made graphic organizers to connect ideas and were similar, drew pictures to help me understand the more abstract concepts, and wrote interesting facts in the margins to keep things interesting.

Teaching is Learning . As I attend a school that is very competitive in nature, I find that very few people are willing to help explain challenging concepts to their fellow classmates. This comes from the mindset that “it’s everyone for themselves”, which bolsters the idea that students shouldn’t go out of their way to help their classmates, or competitors, succeed. While I completely disagree with this way of thinking, I also think it should be acknowledged that teaching other students usually helps the teacher more than the student. Explaining concepts forces the student explaining to put his/her learning into words. This reinforces the learning of the material because saying things aloud helps with memory retention. Explaining things aloud may also help the student realize if he/she is still confused about a topic or boost his/her confidence about the topic.