We are all aware about the importance of studying and attaining good grades. Our minds, littered with song lyrics and study tips, all guide us to get straight As. Egged on by our parents and teachers, homework is drilled into us as necessary for top marks and university admissions. When did chemistry become an unavoidable chore and reading a bore? Whatever happened to learning just for fun?
As much as school learning is mandatory (and important!), there is much material that isn’t covered in class. Your teacher may only go over the main events of the Civil War, but it’s up to you to unearth the causes, meaning, testimonies, and sentiments that led to the event. Unfortunately, due to the increasing standardization of courses, students are developing tunnel vision; becoming mindless, uncreative, and stressed zombies clawing for the top grade.
It’s important to understand that there is so much outside of school that needs to be explored. Sticking to the textbook is good for your mark, but exploring an interesting topic is good for the mind.
Being autodidactic is beneficial to your own understanding. Finding even one cool fact in a sea of dry, mundane text will help you remember your material and making studying a little bit more tolerable. Additionally, getting interested in a topic lets you experiment and find your passion. As high school students, it’s necessary to explore and see what piques your interest. Taking the initiative to research beyond the class material will solidify concepts and helps nurture your creativity and imagination. New ideas are born from curiosity, which can lead to a sense of connectedness with the subject matter and turns learning into an opportunity instead of a chore.
Becoming an autodidact is not as easy it would seem. Such learning requires persistence, motivation, and a lot of patience in order to truly master a subject on your own. However, if you already watch TED talks in your spare time, read nonfiction books for the fun of it, or Google random tidbits, you’re halfway there.
To take your research to the next level, find some books on your material, read some articles, or sign up for an online course. Want to learn Italian? Use Coursera and Duolingo to practice your pronunciation and grammar. Being involved in a program will keep you accountable and help develop a flexible study schedule to further your learning. Listening to a lecture on iTunesU on your way to swim practice, reading a new fact each day, or taking a few hours a week to learn how to knit is the best way to keep your mind fresh and sharp.
There are so many unique and wonderful things to learn, and, unfortunately, not enough time to learn it all. Your education rests entirely in your hands, and having the ability to self-motivate and learn for learning’s sake are lifelong skills. As Isaac Asimov said, “self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is”. So the next time something catches your attention in class, be it an interesting author or a fascinating math theorem, get lost in Wikipediaspace –the benefits will pay off.