Back to School #4: Track & Take

OK, so we’re back at school and classes have begun… Two pieces of advice:

First, Track the Eyes.  Put your eyes on your teachers eyes.  (Robert De Niro shows how in the above 8-second video clip.)  You’ll play closer attention.  You’ll absorb more.  You’ll communicate a message to your teacher that says, I’m interested.  I’m a serious student.  I’m here to learn.

During my talks to college-bound high school seniors, I often say, “…and if you’re not interested in what the teacher is talking about… imitate someone who’s interested!”  Play it like it’s an acting role in a play.  I’m willing to bet that this simple effort will actually cause you to become more interested.  And even if you’re not, your teacher will think you’re interested, and that’s a good thing.

Second, Take Notes.  Just start moving your pen across the page of your notebook.  The reason to do this is captured in an old Chinese proverb: I hear and I forget.  I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

Sit there and listen with your notebook closed, your pen in your shirt pocket, you should expect to forget whatever your teacher is saying.  However, the simple action of writing in the notebook enacts the full power of the proverb.  In other words, not only will you see (and thereby remember) the note you’ve written, the very act of doing the note-taking will enhance your understanding.

Also, as with tracking the eyes, your teachers will love the fact that you’re taking notes.  After all, the proverb works for them too.  If they see you taking notes… they’ll remember that.  And come grading time, that’s also a good thing.

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld