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  • Writer's pictureIan Gibbs

Student Tip 1: Own It

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

I used to have a classmate who could have won the Olympics at inventing excuses.

Every single problem he had was somebody else’s fault.

If he got up late, he complained it was his mum’s fault for not waking him.

If he got to class late, he moaned about the bus driver and the traffic.

If he failed his test, it was the teacher’s fault for not teaching him properly.

These excuses might be acceptable from a child, but not a student. Whether you like it or not, it shouldbe you in control of your life.

You are the one.

You can accept this responsibility or you can give it awayto someone else.

But if you give it away, don’t get upset when that person doesn’t accept it or doesn’t use it the way you want them to.

If it’s important to get up early, then own it. Set your alarm clock (or two) and make sure you get enough sleep.

If you need to arrive on time, own it. Don’t leave it till the very last minute to set off. Unexpected delays happen. You know this.

And what about your studies?

If it’s not going well, you can blame your teacher or your parents or the government or your dog.

But by doing that you’re saying you aren’t able to do something about it yourself. Maybe that’s how you’ve felt up until now.

But the truth is you’re the only one who can learn what you need to. No one can learn it for you.

A cook can prepare food to make it as appetising as possible, but whether you eat it or not is up to you.

And if you were ravenous, you wouldn’t need a cook. You’d be perfectly capable of raiding the fridge all by yourself, wouldn’t you?

Learning stuff is just the same. If you want to, you can learn with or without your teacher’s support.

You are perfectly capable.

After all, think about all the stuff you’ve learnt without the help of a teacher.

Whether it’s playing your favourite computer game or using your smartphone. I doubt you had a teacherwho stood over you and told you what to do. You figured it out for yourself, or you found someone else who could help you and learnt from them.

And so it is with the stuff you study.

You can complain that your teacher doesn’t explain things the way you want or the course-book is boring or the subject is difficult and then get all indignant when you fail your exams six months later. Or you can take matters into your own hands and do something about it.

You might feel this isn’t fair. Many times I’ve heard “but my teachers get paid and I don’t. They’re the ones who should make more effort”. If you want to think like that, fine.

Go ahead.

But as far as your education is concerned, it’s not going to improve anything and, quite frankly, it’s a bit pathetic.

Could you imagine James Bond doing his training? Imagine he didn’t get on with his Russian teacher. Can you imagine him in the canteen of MI5 moaning “This is so unfair. My Russian teacher is stupid. I hate him. I’m never going to be able to speak Russian. It’s all his fault. Sniff, sniff”?

No. He’d own the situation. He’d take the initiative and do something about it. He’d find a way to learn with or without his teacher.

Whether you like it or not, the responsibility of your education is yours.

Own it.

By owning your education, you can start to improve the situation right now.

You can start to change things.

You can change the way you study so that it fits your needs.

You can change how you do your homework to get it done better.

You can change the way you get on with your teacher so it’s less stressful.

You can change it so that by the time you leave school you’ll have learnt something useful. And possibly the most useful thing you can learn is how to learn stuff better.

This way, whatever you want to learn in the future, you’ll be able to learn it as best you can.

So please, do yourself a favour and own it.

When you find yourself struggling with your studies, ask yourself this question: ‘What can I do to improve things myself?’

It might seem difficult.

It might feel strange.

But you have a choice: you can improve the situation and learn the stuff you need or you can ignore things, pretend some magic pixie is going to come and save you at the last minute and then act all surprised when you don’t get the grades you want.

Tip 1: Take responsibility for your learning. If you’re not doing as well as you’d like, do something about it.

For more study tips all together in a convenient little book, see… 23 Tips To Learn Stuff Better

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