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Monday, November 17, 2014

4 Reasons Study Hall Is Miserable For Studying

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Study hall (or otherwise called Study Period) is the perfect example of why you can't trust your school to give you a proper education. If I were to gather a group of the best experts in studying together and I asked them to design the worst possible environment for learning, what I'd have would look almost identical to study hall. (The difference would likely be that study hall has slightly less physical torture.)

Why is it so bad?

1. You're Surrounded By People That Don't Want To Study

The vast majority of students in any study hall couldn't care less about improving their grades. They're just slightly relieved that they don't need to listen to a teacher blather on for a period. That leads to one of two environments.

Most schools keep a teacher on full alert to ensure no student does anything entertaining. (We can't have people entertaining themselves on school grounds. That might actually make it a good learning environment.) That usually means that all students are expected to remain completely silent.

While silence can be a good thing for studying, there is a major difference between silence for the sake of learning versus silence for fear of trouble. That kind of an environment usually just leads to secret communication between students that requires way too much brain power for any productive studying to get done.

Then there are the study halls where the teacher couldn't care less about talking students. Of course, the majority of students take full advantage of that. When the majority of the students in study hall end up talking, it's virtually impossible for most students to get to their peak studying efficiency.

2. Silent Studying Sucks

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Anyone that's read this blog might be a little confused by that statement because it needs plenty of clarification.

To study most effectively, the vast majority of students require near perfect silence in the background. Any little noise can be a major distraction from the study material. That being said, many students suck at studying when they can't break that silence themselves.

In study hall, you can't just break out into reading your book out loud to try to get a difficult part down. Sure, it would be great if every person was gifted with visual learning to the point that they could read and memorize complex parts but some people need to hear and say what they're studying to get it. Just about any study hall you go to would have you reprimanded (or made fun of) for doing that.

Studying is not something that should be done in a group unless that whole group is motivated to study the same thing. There is no way it can work in this kind of an environment.

3. No Breaks

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Seriously, of all the stupidity a schools force their students into, this is one of the most irritating.

Study after study after study after study has shown that people can't study effectively for a full hour long. They can study effectively for 15-20 minutes and then they need to be able to take a break. Why do they make study periods so long? Sure, it may fit conveniently into the already a mess of a schedule but it's virtually guaranteeing half of the study hall is completely wasted time.

This isn't just preference. This is something that academics have been studying and proving for decades.

The worst part of all is that it trains students to study like idiots. Any student that doesn't take the time to research this information themselves is getting taught that an hour of sitting and studying is an effective strategy. Not only that but this also hurts the students that know how to effectively study.

Whenever you study, you get your brain into a rhythm of focus. A certain amount of focus can be maintained while studying and that amount of focus can improve over time. That is, it can improve if you don't blatantly force yourself into stupid study strategies like studying for a full hour.

You might start study hall with 80% study efficiency. If you spend your whole study hall studying, by the end of it, your brain is going to be working at somewhere around 50% efficiency. The next time you study, you're not going to be starting at 80% again, you're brain is going to be trained to think 60 or 70% efficiency is acceptable (because you did just study for nearly an hour at lower efficiency levels.) It gets your brain in the habit of sucking at studying.

4. Middle Of School

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Alright. So I want you to learn something. Now, to help you learn it, I'm going to stress you out for hours before you learn it and hours after you learn it. That's called the modern school day study strategy.

It's insane. Unless you're legitimately interested in the study material, there is no way you can learn much in such a stressful environment.

If your study hall is in the beginning of the day, it might not be so bad. You can save a little schoolwork for that morning and start the period fresh (even if you're still a little sleepy.)

If your study hall is at the end of the day, it also might not be bad. You get to wind down for the end of the day and do only as much work as you feel like.

It's the middle of the school day that causes most of the problems. While an effective student can nullify this problem, it can be miserable until you figure it out.

In the middle of the school day you're stressed. I don't care how much you enjoy school, your brain is probably pushing its limits in one way or another (if you don't like the classes then you can't stand the people, if you like the people then class is probably miserable, if you don't mind either then you might have just had a bad night before, etc.) Even if you could get work done during this period, you may get more overall efficiency from a good nap.

How To Manage Study Hall

This isn't going to be any students favorite advice in the world but ideally, don't manage study hall unless it's a near necessity.

What would make it a necessity?

If you have such a crappy home life that studying at home is worse than studying in school then do what you can to survive study hall. Otherwise, do everything in your power not to have a study hall.

Study hall isn't a required course. Instead of wasting your time with a study period, get another class. Sure, that might not be better for studying but you'll be doing more for yourself overall. In the ideal world, that course would help you get your diploma faster.

To be practical though, feel free to replace your study hall with any course that you find mildly entertaining. If you love art then an art class would do much better things for your stress level than a study hall ever could. The same goes for any subject that you enjoy.

This may end up adding more work to the end of your day but when you're in the habits that allow you to study more effectively the work goes by even faster than if you had it finished in a study hall.

Do you want to know how to study in less time while still improving your grades? Be sure to follow this blog and check out the archives to know it all.

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