Skip to content

Success in School vs. Life

2 min

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 11.46.19 PM.png

While growing up, in school, it was easy that we all had the same views. A phone call with a cousin today revealed to me he that was looking over notes from the previous semester in college. He completely forgot everything that he learned. He received a great grade in statistics, but still completely forgot how to actually apply the formula for a regression analysis.

He wasn’t surprised. This was typical. Not just for him, but for nearly anyone learning in a classroom. It is easily missed to apply the lessons to real problems, so that they are remembered. Even in short time periods when it was expected to remember the whopping 4 months of new content with an accumulated final exam was a challenge. I don’t miss those dreadful days of panic. I felt like the world was ending because I never reviewed enough over time.

I don’t know an easy fix to this problem. Even someone with an above average memory like my cousin (attending a prestigious university) will still probably forget. Forgetting becomes a part of learning since retrieval practice is a key part of it. The working memory can only hold so much and it takes real effort for something novel to be internalized.

There is no simple answer for this problem. I do have a proposal for shifting your viewpoint.

Views growing up in school were straight forward: read, quiz, test, (forget), repeat.

The forgetting piece is unconscious. Students do not intentionally forget new found knowledge. It is necessary with how the brain works to start learning something new. Without reviewing it over time, It will not stick.

Creating success in school was simple. Get good grades. It didn’t really matter how someone got those grades. As long as the report card looked good. Someone could have gotten it through previously taking the course, receiving extra credit, having a great tutor, getting a preferred teaching style, superb photographic memory, or an excellent notecard come exam time.

After exams, I’d review old tests and feel humiliated for being close to the right answer. It was always beneficial to be mindful of the process of how I thought was the right way to get the answer.

This belief of perceiving success to be all about the outcome without any concentration on how someone got there is not one that applies to life. It is easy to keep viewing life situations like this after school. Though as I soon found out most situations do not have one right answer; there are multiple.

Change is not easy. It can be painful. It is easier to just keep thinking the same way as before rather than update a view.

I challenge everyone to take a step back and look at what they believe and why they originally held that belief. Was is formed from a system you were in. Has it changed? How do you define success?


Subscribe to receive the latest posts in your inbox.