Monday, November 10, 2014

Is Studying Hard and Boring?

Although I've sworn not to watch An Education again after memorizing every single scene of the movie for my thesis (the movie is the medium of my thesis), I must admit that it is a great movie. It gives us a lot to think about and full of fantastic actors doing fantastic acting. The dialogues of the movie are quite quotable too. One of the most memorable ones, and the one that is related to what I want to talk about in this post, is this one below.

In the scene, Jenny, the main character of the movie, is so convinced that it is right for her to abandon education and career opportunities for marriage (Okay this sentence is SO like my thesis haha). Well she changes her mind later in the story, but, at one point, she thinks abandoning education will be liberating because, for her, studying is "hard and boring".

It's sad that a schoolgirl whose main job is studying thinks that studying is hard and boring. But another thing that is even more saddening than that for me is seeing that many people that I know agree with her.

As a student, I could see that most of my friends hated studying and working on assignments. They always complained when they had to face those two things. Well, it's not surprising that they hate doing those things because, for them, studying means reading textbooks and memorizing everything written there and working on assignments means staying up all night in front of our exercise books or laptops.

As a teacher, I can see that the same notion still lives in people's minds. When I teach, I am expected to keep my students quite and do nothing but reading or working on their tasks. When a student is noisy or moves around a lot, that student will be considered a naughty student by the others. When I disguise my lesson as games and play with my students during a lesson, people will think that we don't study anything in the class. When I give my students some fun activities during the lesson, my lesson will be considered as something that is "not worth it". When a student gets bad scores at school, the student will be considered as the one who deserves to be scolded.

So is studying really hard and boring? In my opinion, it's not.

I think the one that makes studying seem hard and boring is actually that notion that lives in people's minds; the notion that always associates studying with things that are hard and boring. I think studying shouldn't be hard and boring. It should be fun and enjoyable because it's way easier for students to grasp the knowledge when they're happy. I've experienced it as both a student and a teacher.

When I was homeschooled, the homeschooling institution liked to do gatherings and give projects to homeschoolers. The projects usually let us apply the knowledge that we had learnt. The projects were quite fun to do, more fun than I expected. Moreover, they made me realize that education can be considered as successful not when a student is able to get a good score during the final exam, but when a student is able to apply the knowledge that has been learnt to real situations. I also learned that learning doesn't always mean learning math or biology; learning things like friendship, love and team-work can also be considered as learning. When I realized that, I started learning with my heart. When I had to analyze literary works during my time as an English literature student, I absorbed all the things that I learned from them with my heart and felt very rich after that.

When I teach my students, I also like to keep my students as happy as possible. I love to disguise my lessons in games and play with my students. Another thing that I really love doing in the class is storytelling. Storytelling allows the students to relax and enjoy the story but also provides exposure to the target language (English), which means they study and have fun at the same time. And watching my students' jaws drop when they're so focused on the stories is the most fun thing ever (haha). I also like to make deals with my students to keep them happy and make sure that the learning outcomes are achieved. For example, I have a group of students who always ask to be given some time for drawing during the lesson. I grant their wish, but they have to promise that they would finish all the exercises that I give them before that. They keep their promises and I keep mine. Everyone is happy, right?

So I think we should stop associating studying and learning with hard and boring things and change the ways we see them. When I started seeing them in a different way, I found studying and learning very gratifying. 

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