Studying Smarter: A Confession
Jeffrey D. Shaffer
On December 3th, I was invited to teach a class in the experimental 英語で授業 program. During one of our initial “What in the world should we do?” meetings, I was asked if there was anything I could teaching IN English (as compared to teaching ABOUT English). So, I haphazardly threw out a few ideas, one of which being “How to study better” and, somewhat to my surprise, I was asked when I could be ready to teach it!
Well, I suppose that was the easy part. We set a date, and every day until that date I kept wondering to myself, “I know HOW to study, but how do you TEACH someone to study? Where do you begin? What’s the basics? What’s the fundamentals? What’s the pitfalls and time-wasters”?
As fate (and a busy schedule) would have it, I kept pondering these questions right up to the morning of my talk, with no concrete plans to be found. But a few quiet minutes alone with God, a notepad, and sincere panic welling up inside, the ideas just popped out one after the other, and in pretty much the same quantity and order that I ended up teaching them at afternoon. It was nothing less than a gift from heaven, as I didn’t even know I would be using my laptop for the entire talk — I simply took it thinking it might be useful, sometime, somehow. To be overly honest, I was, as we say in English, “flying by the seat of my pants.” Everything just seemed to fall into place… the few books I randomly grabbed going out the door, the computer in my bag, the files I just happened to open up, the last minute ideas to use Photoshop… somehow it all just WORKED. And perhaps no one was more surprised than I was!
Now, I cannot speak on the students’ behalf as I really don’t know if they (a) enjoyed my talk, (b) learned something useful or (c) even understood a word I said, but for me the best part was getting to speak to and interact with the students. I love working with people, and I love helping people to learn how to think deeper and learn smarter. And so I hope that my talk had some impact on their lives (in a good way!), even if just a little.