opinion | The Key To Success In College Is So Simple It’s Almost Never Mentioned

Author: Yuvi January 3, 2023  opinion |  The Key To Success In College Is So Simple It's Almost Never Mentioned

For Emily Zurek Smalls, college did what it was supposed to do. Growing up in a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania, she had career and intellectual ambitions for which college was the most obvious path. “I just always wanted to learn,” she told me recently. “I wanted to be able to have intelligent conversations with people and learn about the world.”

She attended a nearby Catholic college, majoring in neuroscience, and in 2016 became the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree — and later, a master’s. She now works as a school psychologist in Virginia.

I closely watched Ms. Zurek Small’s teaching in two theology classes I taught during my 11 years as a professor at the college she attended. She was a good student, but what impressed me more than her ability was that she cared. Being in class, asking questions and exploring ideas meant something to him.

One reason she cared was because she was paying her own way and thus was well aware of the cost of her education. “If I wasn’t engaged, I’d just be throwing money out the window,” she said. That engagement helped him feel that “my thoughts and opinions matter.”

As enrollment declines in most of the country’s universities, they need to make a broader case for going to college, even as they debate how best to help students learn after Covid disruptions Go How should universities implement distance education? How should they teach writing in the age of artificial intelligence? How difficult should it be to pass Organic Chemistry?

But there’s an equally important question that only students can answer: What will they do to get the most out of college? After all it is his education.

It seems almost obvious to mention one of the most important factors in Ms. Zurek Small’s success – but actually deserves far more attention and discussion: a simple desire to learn. In over 20 years of college teaching, I have seen that students who are open to new knowledge will learn. Those who are not students, they will not. But this attitude is not fixed. The paradoxical union of intellectual humility and ambition is something that every student (with the help of teachers, counselors, and parents) can and should develop. This is what makes learning possible.

The willingness to learn is related to a “growth mindset”—the belief that your abilities are not fixed, but can improve. But there is an important difference: this desire is primarily a belief not about the self but about the world. It’s a recognition that every class offers something worthwhile, even if you don’t know beforehand what it is.

Unfortunately, great economic and cultural barriers stand in opposition to that belief.

The first obstacle is careerism. To a large extent, students today view college as job training, a path to a stable career. They’re not wrong, given the 70 percent wage premium for 22- to 27-year-old workers with a bachelor’s degree with only a high school diploma. But this orientation can keep students from learning things that clearly don’t help their job prospects. Despite the fact that I taught at a theological college, students in my theology classes grumbled about meeting a requirement. Why, he asked, would he need to know theology to be an accountant, athletic trainer, or advertising manager?

However, the human mind is capable of much more than the job requires. Those “useless” classes like philosophy, literature, astronomy or music have a lot to teach.

I haven’t had to solve a stone problem in 25 years. But learning to do so expanded my mind in a way that simply cannot be reduced to a checklist of job skills. Living in the world in this extended way is an enduring gift.

Another major obstacle to the desire to learn is the urge to always present oneself as already informed. Philosopher Jonathan Lear calls this approach the Enlightenment. Lear regards it as a disease that stands in the way of attaining real knowledge. It is “as if there is too much anxiety involved in asking a question and waiting for the world to answer,” he writes.

Knowledge is everywhere in our culture. Read, listen, and stream everything from a former president’s claim to “everybody knows” podcasters to some conspiratorial bullshit cultural myths to your feelings. The need to approach new situations with the currency curiosity of what you already know puts an end to

Every semester during my years teaching theology, a student would tell me on the first day of class that he knew he would get an A, because he had already had 12 years of Catholic school. But often enough, they’ll get a C. Their perception of the subject matter kept them from learning a more critical approach to the subject I was trying to teach.

Knowledge is a threat, especially to gifted students, who have been rewarded for always getting the right answers. At the University of Pennsylvania, undergraduates complain that student clubs expect potential members to have extensive knowledge of the club’s area of ​​interest. As a first-year student, Adrian Rafizadeh told the campus newspaper, “If I can’t get into clubs that will help educate me and foster that interest, how do I start?”

Once, in a cafe near an elite liberal-arts college, I overheard one student lament to another, “I can’t take the Russian history class; I don’t know any Russian history! Absolutely not. That’s why you take classes.

Universities are factories of human knowledge. They are also monuments to personal ignorance. We know an incredible amount, but I only know a tiny bit. College puts students in classes with researchers who delve deeply into all they don’t know. Professors have a reputation for arrogance, but a humble awareness of the limits of knowledge is their first step toward exploring a little more.

To overcome careerism and knowledge and instill in students a desire to learn, schools and parents need to convince students (and perhaps themselves) that college has more to offer than on-the-job training. You are an activist for only a part of your life; You are a human being, a creature with a powerful brain.

In addition, adults need to show K-12 students that it’s okay not to know something yet. School is not a quiz show; The first person to say the correct answer is not entitled to the biggest prize. Rather, the school should create the curiosity of the students and let them feel the thrill of discovering something.

I’ll bet most educators already share this viewpoint, but when schools are judged by standardized test scores, open-ended curiosity is harder to encourage, and narrow-minded careerism harder to defeat. It happens when the whole economy makes it necessary.

Career orientation and a culture of knowing are both given for college outcomes – jobs, knowledge – and the means to shine. But the means are everything: the books, the teachers, and the fellow students who will change your life.

Emily Zurek Small compared graduation to “opening a door”. She’s no longer a student, but, she said, “I’m still discovering what’s on the other side of that door.”

Mr. Malesik is the author of “The End of Burnout”. He teaches writing at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Author: Yuvi

My name is Yuvi, I work as Sub Editor at newscinema.in

3 January, 2023, 3:30 pm

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