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Six Secrets of Success in School

September 15, 2009

I deliberately did not call this THE six secrets. There are no easy answers about what will or won’t work for you. Obviously, there’s common sense–do study and don’t be a jerk–but when it comes to what will help you get the most out of your educational experiences, you’ll have to find your own answers. The six secrets–based on the themes of fun in learning–encourage you to do this by asking you to think about your part in the teaching/learning process.

I use the word interest in each brief overview because the six secrets help build the skills of interest. Most people have well-developed skills of boredom and disinterest from the years they’ve already spent in the classroom, and they must work actively at being interested in school.

Six Secrets of Success in School

Choice: I know how I learn and I understand that this may not be the same in every context. I use this information to study effectively. I actively seek opportunities to maximize my learning by integrating my interests and passions into my coursework.

Relevance: I find purpose and connections among things I’m studying. I integrate personal resonance and pragmatic reality, accepting that I may not always see immediate relevance. I know who I am and what interests me.

Engagement: I attend class and deliberately find ways to be actively interested. I care about my learning and am truly present through thoughtful interaction with materials in and out of class. I apply course content to my life and to other courses.

Active Learning: I don’t just sit in class; I am an integral part of making the class interesting because I am interested. I seek out additional information related to what I am learning.

Teacher Attitude: What makes teaching fun? I put myself in the place of the teacher and make my interest in the course apparent. I go beyond requirements and produce high quality work. I take responsibility for my own learning and I ask questions when I don’t understand.

Camaraderie: I talk with others in and out of class–instructors and classmates. I get involved in clubs, study groups, sports, student government, and/or other activities. I am interested learning about other people and their cultures, and I know how to listen and be a friend. I involve my family in my school experiences.

The quotation that follows is from Robert Henri’s 1923 book, The Art Spirit (p. 24). I wrote it down in my journal more than twenty years ago:

There is no school that will exactly fit you. There is no advice made just for your case. The air is full of advice. Every school is waiting, whether it is willing or not, for you to make it your school. Do not let the fact that things are not made for you, that conditions are not as they should be, stop you. Go on anyway. Everything depends on those who go on anyway.

What are the secrets of success in school you’ve discovered?

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