Reevaluating the way we learn

With the incorporation of an eight-period day next year, students will be expecting changes in their schedule including shorter class periods and a wellness hour. However, as the administration implements changes with the eight-period day, it is also important to take a look at how students are currently learning and reevaluate the college-preparatory aspect of BSM.

While the school does an excellent job at helping students prepare for the college application and admissions process, there are certain changes that could be made to better prepare students for the life and learning of the college environment.

Students should be encouraged to think critically for themselves, as simply learning how to think is an important step in getting ready for the independence high school seniors will gain the first day they walk onto their college campus. Classes should be skills-based (as some at BSM are already), emphasizing skills such as writing, reasoning, comprehension, and communication. Teenagers won’t benefit from busy work, and although it is not an excuse for not learning them, historical dates such as the date of the assassination of Tsar Alexander II are not likely to come in handy later in life.

Perhaps the main issue is that students are more concerned with the final grade they achieve in a class, rather than the more important end result: learning. One of the most common study tactics is cramming, and while this may help in memorizing a historical date or the conjugation of a word, the information is often lost quickly. Students may get their desired grade on the test, but they end up missing the entire point of the class: understanding the concepts they are learning.

In general, study tactics such as cramming are bad habits to get into. In college, students will have much more time between classes; however, the way they study will have to change. This extra time means more homework and more studying to actually understand the subject… cramming will just not cut it.

With eight class periods next year, the reality is that learning isn’t going to change. In fact, with the extra wellness hour, classes will be even shorter. Perhaps with these shorter class periods, teachers should try to make the most out of their valuable class time with their students by encouraging critical thinking, and implementing rigor not in terms of homework load, but in learning and understanding.