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Monday, March 2, 2015

5 Reasons Your Teachers Are Usually Horrible Resources For Study Advice

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Most students are horrible at studying. That's because the only education they ever got on how to study came from people that are also horrible at studying. Teachers typically give some of the worst study advice around. They often suggest ridiculous time periods to study every night. They often recommend reading the textbook (as if anyone ever learned from that.) This is the kind of advice you get for studying from a person that's never learned how to study themselves.

Why are your teachers usually such bad study resources?

1. They Love The Subject

Imagine you're a history teacher. You became a history teacher because you really enjoy learning about history. People don't become history teachers unless they're particularly fond of history (otherwise they'd become math or english or some other kind of teacher.) This history teacher probably thinks about history when he's not on the job. He enjoys it.

He probably reads books about history. (Not the crappy textbooks you're given but good learning resources.) Heck, reading a book about history may be considered a good time for him.

Now if you ask this guy for study advice, what's he going to think? “Well, I study about 1-2 hours a night.” Of course, his definition of studying includes him spending time doing the things he enjoys. At best, this study advice is heavily biased.

2. They Chose This Life

Teachers don't go into teaching because they think most of school is stupid.

People that don't enjoy school don't typically become teachers (short of a few sociopaths that like to inflict suffering or something and a few radicals trying to change it.) To anyone that doesn't enjoy school, this may surprise you but some people actually enjoy the simplicity of school. It's a predictable day with friends for those people.

If the vast majority of teachers enjoyed school growing up then they have a similar bias towards schooling. That means, when they tell you to study an hour a night, they're implicitly saying, “I enjoyed studying an hour a night,” not “This is what you should do.”

WAIT! Am I saying people that like school also like studying more? Yes. I am. Let's face it. When I took my textbooks out in early high school, I had to fight thoughts of killing myself (literally actually.) That instantly ruins any potential studying that takes place. If I were able to enjoy schooling, I'd be able to study much more efficiently.

3. Education Is The Easiest Major

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Estimates regularly show that education is one of the easiest majors that you can go through in college. (It is the easiest of the major fields. By the way, I'm disgusted by that too.) People that would not survive an engineering degree, or a nursing degree, or a chemistry degree end up going into education. That lower pool of competition means you've got a clear set of people that aren't studying as well as the harder majors on average.

Remember, people with engineering degrees can get into teaching easily. (Then again, why would they?) People with teaching degrees can't easily get into engineering. That means the more intelligent degree to get is usually the more difficult.

4. Learn VS Score Bias

When teachers give you study advice, they're usually not giving you advice to help you increase your score. They're usually giving you advice to help you learn the subject. Those are two unbelievably different things.

Learning a subject is always a challenge. There is virtually unlimited things you can learn about any subject. People often spend decades of their life learning about relatively small things like WW1 (not quite small) or Crawfish. After those decades of studying, they still end up learning new things.

Getting higher scores is actually pretty easy. There are tons of things you can do to increase your final score without learning a single new fact about the subject you're supposed to be learning. Increasing your scores is concentrating your study efforts on the things that actually matter to the class.

Most students looking for study advice are just looking to improve their grade. That means any study advice designed for learning can help but isn't nearly as efficient.

This is one of the most prominent reasons teachers always overestimate the time required to study for a subject. You can study for most tests in less than 10 minutes a night. (15 minutes is what I usually say but 15 is really conservative for a single test.) Of course, studying for the test won't make you an expert on the subject. It will just get you to pass the test comfortably.

5. They Rarely Know Any Of This...

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Sadly, teachers usually think they're one of the best resources for study advice without ever giving it any real thought.

They're applauded by everyone as heroes all the time and most people aren't willing to say anything that's the slightest bit judgmental. They're coddled into thinking they're special (even if the ones that objectively suck at teaching.)

Most teachers aren't actively trying to spread stupid advice. They're just spreading the same stupid advice that they were taught by their teachers. Maybe they'll change a few words to keep it interesting but in reality, most are just recommending the same old stuff.

In the past 30 years there have been hundreds of empirical studies on “how to study.” Most of this data hasn't been dug through by these teachers. If you spend 20 minutes looking at these studies you'd learn that virtually all the advice those teachers give is horribly misguided.

Now that this has all been said, you can't keep blaming them for the bad advice anymore. Just because they give bad advice, it doesn't mean you have to listen. You have to take ownership of your own life and start looking for a better way. There are tons of resources that can help you do that. This blog has over 50 articles that can help you get started.

Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night? That's what this blog is all about. Check out the kindle books in the sidebar for the crash course.

Do you want to learn the secrets about studying that the mainstream educators wont tell you? Follow this blog.

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