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17Calculus Article - The Number One Study Concept Every Student Needs

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Single Variable Calculus
Derivatives
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This study concept is something that could revolutionize your learning. Learning is enjoyable but modern school systems can often take the joy out of learning and stifle self-discovery. So that by the time you reach college, you are just going through the motions.
However, if you do this, you will learn faster, better and actually enjoy the process.

This is the most important study technique of all time. Are you ready? Here it is: Learn to teach yourself. Do not rely on teachers, other students or anyone else. Take control of your learning. If you do, then you will come to realize how enjoyable learning is just for the sake of learning. I can guarantee you that at least once (and probably more than once) in your college career you will get a teacher from whom it is difficult to learn. There could be several reasons. At best, they might think differently than you do and you just can't grasp what they are trying to explain. At worst, they may just be bad teachers. Schools are filled with good and bad teachers. I'm sorry to tell you but that's reality.

Additionally, the school system structure is inherently flawed. Having someone stand in the front of a room filled with students and lecturing and then expecting you to go out and work problems is not a good way to learn. But we are stuck with it. So what IS the best way to learn? I believe the best student-teacher ratio is one-to-one, one teacher for one student. But this is not realistic in our school system (unless you are/were fortunate enough to be home-schooled).

"Approaching material with the goal of learning it on your own can give you a unique path to mastery. Often, no matter how good your teacher or textbook are, it’s only when you ‘sneak off’ and look at other books or videos that you begin to see what you learn through a single teacher or book is a partial version of the full three dimensional reality of the subject which has links to still other fascinating topics that are of your choosing."
Barbara Oakley; Learning How Learn (free Coursera course) (video: 4-3 Change Your Thoughts)

So how do you, as a student, work within an imperfect system with an imperfect teacher? You learn to teach yourself. You learn to use the resources you do have to get the most out of them. Go to every single office hour that your teacher holds and get one-on-one help with things you don't understand (after you have worked hard on your own). Get a study group together where there is at least one person who knows the material better than you and at least one person who does not know the material as well as you. Teaching someone else the material you are learning helps you understand it better and you will have someone who can answer your questions. But most importantly, learn to teach yourself.

Teachers are human too. They are not completely to blame for keeping you reliant on them. Everyone wants to be needed. It's part of being human. Most teachers don't know how to help you to be independent and no longer need them. And as a teacher, I have a lot to learn about how to do this. But, I can tell you from personal experience, when I see a student figure out something on their own after I have given them the tools, there is almost no better feeling in the world. And that's why I became a teacher. A teacher is not a crutch to get you through the course. A teacher is a resource that is meant to be phased out over time as you learn to teach yourself.

If you truly want to do well in school, learn to be a good student. Take charge of your learning. Spend time between semesters or when you have some extra time during the semester honing your student skills. One of the best books to get you started is by Cal Newport. Cal has a blog called StudyHacks that is really good too.

During the semester, try to tweak some of your techniques. For example, if you are having difficulty remembering an equation, take the equation apart and try to understand what each part means. Once something becomes meaningful, you won't forget it. Cal Newport's book has some other ideas on what to tweak to get more out of your study time.

Here are several other good resources that have good reviews on Amazon.

Learning to teach yourself is an ongoing process but you can start right now. For starters, notice every time you are frustrated when someone is not available to help you. That tells you that you may be relying on someone else rather than teaching yourself. Learn to use frustration to motivate you, not as a reason to quit. Develop persistence and a never-give-up attitude. Use additional study materials outside of class. Develop a love of learning. No one can do this for you. You are the only one that can do it.

Bottom Line: Take Responsibility For Your Own Learning and Learn To Teach Yourself

Really UNDERSTAND Calculus

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