Learning is always in session

Published 10:06 am Thursday, August 24, 2017

August is back-to-school month, so the topic of education has been heavy on my mind a lot lately. It’s important, I believe, to take your education seriously and not treat it like a chore, even though it often feels like that when things are difficult.

As long as we have had schools, we have also had slackers. Those people who don’t care about putting in the work to gain knowledge are probably going to exist for all of eternity. But I would hope that their attitude doesn’t continue rubbing off on others.

Because, honestly, that attitude is contagious. When one person complains, it seems to rub off on the surrounding people until everyone is just doing the bare minimum to get by. Why put in effort when no one else is?

I didn’t think this was a real problem until I took a grammar class in college. It was required for education majors, and so they were the majority of the class. (Ironically, it was an optional class for me as a creative writing major.) I was baffled to see several of my classmates—who were on track to be future teachers—often skip class because they didn’t actually care about learning grammar. And the ones who did attend class constantly complained about the assignments, the tests, the teachers, and everything else. Whether my classmates were unsatisfied because they considered the class “too easy” or “unimportant” or whatever other reason, I don’t know.

But I’ve never forgotten that attitude.

And I don’t want to ever forget that attitude either. It’s a good reminder that if we slack off on learning, it effects other people around us too. If even a few teachers—I’m certainly not going to generalize and say they’re all like my former classmates—are going into schools with the mindset that learning isn’t worth the effort, then what are they teaching the students? And who’s going to stop that attitude from spreading and growing until finally we’re all just collectively shrugging our shoulders instead of doing work?

Whenever I think about this topic, I invariably think about one of my college roommates. She always had that attitude of diving headfirst into whatever she was learning, even attempting to graduate with a double major and a double minor. (She settled in the end for graduating without the second minor, though not for lack of trying.)

She just liked learning for the sake of learning.

Neither of us were perfect students by any means. Among other things, I had a bad habit of dozing off in class, and we both liked to commiserate when our assignments got stressful. But the overall attitude was that what we were learning was important. And the importance of it was worth the effort.

So is it too much to ask for people to change their attitude? Is it too much to ask people to be more positive about learning?

There are plenty of things you can do to make learning more interesting. Look for books that approach topics in an interesting way. Take your favorite subject and apply that to whatever you’re trying to learn. Talk to people who are passionate about something.

Your mindset affects your actions, and your actions affect the people around you.


Holly Taylor is a staff writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or by phone at 252-332-7206.