• Ian Gibbs

Student Tip 19: Two Heads Are Better Than One

You’ve just seen in the previous tip that if you explain something to someone else, it helps you understand it better.


You could even go one better and get a study buddy.


For most of my time at secondary school, I struggled with my subjects.


I did my homework on my own, sat at the dining room table.


It wasn’t exactly something I ‘enjoyed’.


But that changed when I teamed up with Gary.


This happened when we started our ‘A’ levels.


Gary was the only other person doing all the same subjects as me.


So it was quite natural that we drifted together, but I’m very pleased we did.


Having a study partner made all the difference.


It made it much more interesting and enjoyable.


Discussing the stuff we covered in class and the assignments set for homework helped both of us understand better.


We did some work together and at other times spoke by phone about problems we had.


Putting our ideas into words helped us connect one concept to another and remember better.

Just like it sounds, a study buddy is a friend who’s studying the same stuff you are.


The key thing is you study together and help each other.


This doesn’t mean one of you does the homework for the other.


What it does mean is you talk about what you’re studying, share ideas and help each other.


It’s not cheating.


It’s a way of learning that works.


Other kids will go home and struggle in silence.


They won’t get the benefit of another’s point of view.


They won’t consolidate their ideas by talking about it.


They won’t be reminded of that really useful hint their teacher gave while they were distracted.


If you can arrange to sometimes do your homework with a study buddy, you’ll find you start to ‘get it’.


You’ll have more ‘Ah ha!’ moments.


Ideas will start to click into place.


But one word of caution: be careful to stay on track.


It’s easy for a conversation about learning stuff to turn into gossip and banter.


To avoid this, here are a few recommendations:


  • Set yourselves a clear objective.

  • Set yourselves a time limit.

  • Agree not to stray off target.

  • Help each other to do it for yourselves.


And one final recommendation: Don’t worry if one of you is doing better than the other.


This will almost always be the case.


If a stronger student helps a weaker student, the stronger student also benefits from the interaction.


It’s a win-win situation.


But only if it’s genuine help.


If the weaker student is just allowing the stronger student to do everything, that’s not really helping at all.


The best way of working together is to work alone for the first part and then to compare notes, discuss points and share ideas afterwards.


This gives both of you a chance to think for yourselves before consulting with your partner.


Don’t get too dependent on each other.


Study separately, too.


Tackling problems by yourself is also important to do sometimes.


But get together regularly, enough for it to become a useful routine.


So why not make the effort?


Try doing your homework once or twice a week with a friend.


In fact, you could even go one better and set up a homework club where a few of you get together.


It can turn homework into a social event.


If it was good enough for Harry, Ron and Hermione, it’s good enough for you.


Tip 19: Nowhere does it say you have to do it alone. Get ahead, get a study buddy or two.

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