Learning is simple. It is acquiring knowledge. That’s all there is to it. However, it is by no means easy. Whether it be learning a language, a skill, a sport or a certain topic, it requires time, dedication and most importantly, your own strict resolve.
First things first, understand that to learn is not to study, but to study may be to learn.
You can learn by studying, but you don’t necessarily learn when you study. Only when you know it, understand it, remember it, and apply it, can you consider it something you have truly learnt. Most, if not all of the time, learning takes more than just studying. It comes in three sections.
Practice and Application
Firstly, you are taught. This is a crucial part of learning even if it seems insignificant because it shows you what you need to learn. Pay attention in class and listen to your teacher. Make notes on what you already know, and remember what you will have to know. Try to make sure you get a certain skill down as perfectly as possible. If you have a question, ask your peers or even better, ask your teacher. Try to gather as much as possible from being taught, since in the end, it only makes everything else easier, and puts your teachers in a better mood.
Then, we revise. This only needs to happen once, but it must be thorough. Go through every note in detail. Read your textbook if you have one. Make sure you understand all of it, down to the smallest details. Compile everything if needed and keep it together for future reference. If you see something you’re unsure about, find a way to be sure about it even by simply Googling it. Research the rules and regulations of a sport. Can you do the certain skill you learnt perfectly just once? Regardless of what you are learning, revision is important, and make sure it’s correct.
Lastly, and perhaps even most importantly: practice! This is where past year papers or textbook questions come into play. Hours and hours on the field to learn a sport, and even more hours back home practicing. If you play piano like I do, or any other instrument, you’d have experienced playing a song over and over until it’s stuck and you almost want to cry from frustration. For a language, try speaking to others in it even if you know little more than a few words. The goal is to reach the point where you won’t even have to study because it’s permanently ingrained into your mind. The ability to apply it and use it anytime, anywhere. (Be careful, because once you forget it, you’ll have to relearn it, and with other new things to juggle, that can be a nightmare.) Honestly, practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it does help, no matter how frustrating or repetitive it gets.
Okay, sorry, that was a bit long winded. From here on out it gets a lot simpler and a lot shorter.
Second things second: You have to want to learn.
Yes, you have to want to learn. It’s simple enough. We all need to learn, but how many of us actually want to? Whether it be in English or Art, History or Drama, Music or Maths, you need to want to learn to be good at it.
The want you feel is your drive. It pushes you into becoming the best that you can be, and lets you get up time and time again after falling down.
Of course, it isn’t always that easy. Maybe it’s a subject you just can’t stand or a skill that you don’t even want to learn. Perhaps, you had a serious injury, and was put off a sport for a couple of months. The only way then is to find something else to prompt you. If you can’t see it in yourself, search for it in your friends and in your family. Use them as your resolve to keep going, keep learning and to keep growing.
Thirdly: Be organised!
And of course, be organised. It’s really important, and makes learning a hundred times more efficient. Rather than losing your notes and having to waste time looking for them or rewriting them, keep them neat. Revising them will be easier too.
Still, be organised. Not just with your belongings, but with your time. It’s much easier to study regularly than to panic and cram right before an exam. And no matter how often you may do it, or how much it seems to work, staying up late to study will not help you, or at least, it won’t be as efficient as studying in the day. After all, the day is when we’re supposed to be awake and it should be every student’s – or every person’s really – goal to have a full, good night’s sleep.
Finally: Don’t stress too much!
The proverb ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ is something we all have heard.
Don’t spend every hour of the day, 365 days a year on studying. Find something separate to do as a hobby or just as stress relief. Play a sport, or an instrument, and do it regularly! Trust me, it’s easier to study when you have something you enjoy planned for later.
Also, don’t treat learning like a competition against others. It isn’t something you can compare. Study when you can, and practice often, but sometimes, just take a break and breathe. If you need a nap, take one. If your friends are planning to go to the mall later, join them if you want to. Let your brain rest and reset. It puts you in a better mood, and allows you to function at your highest potential. Being sociable and outgoing are skills that everyone should have and good communication is key.
In the end, it comes down to yourself. Learning has to be a delicate balance of studies, friends, sports, and time, and should be endurable, even enjoyable. Only through your own hard work will you be able to improve. And only through your own blood, sweat and tears will you ever be able to learn at your full potential.