Friday, April 16, 2010

Advice for Parents and Students

I am sorry for the formatting, Blogger is ignoring carriage returns on some paragraphs again.

I wanted to tell you what high school was like for me, because I feel it might help students doing poorly, or parents struggling with a child in this instance.
I received horrible grades. I failed classes and the classes I did pass I did less than average in.

Like all parents in this situation, they weren't happy. My father was a teacher at the school and was embarrassed in front of the other teachers who I had classes with. My parents tried everything. Rewards. Punishment. Private tutors. Nothing helped. Eventually they tested my I.Q and found I was slightly above average.

I was on a schedule and every day I was sent to my room to study and do homework. Usually in that time I would close my door and read comics, or work on my dungeons and dragons game or other things I found fun.
The next day at school, I would look like a fool when the teacher called on me and I didn’t know the answer. Or I would get a test back and see a 42% on it. Another fail.

But, I was happy, I was popular, I had girlfriends, and I was on the wrestling team until my grades took me too low to compete and I was off it for weeks until my grades came up.

“Don’t you want to go to a good college?” my parents would ask me? God, yes! I wanted to go to college more than anything. You’re a loser if you don’t go to college was my friends and my thinking. But, I knew I would get into a college. I don’t know how I knew it, but I knew it. I wasn’t worried.

Well, my parents never got through to me. My grades were below average and I failed two classes my senior year and just barely graduated.

My parents asked me to take a year off from school before going to college and the only reason I got into a college was because my wrestling coach was best friends with someone at the college.
In that year off, something changed within me. I started to thirst for knowledge. I wanted to learn. I didn’t want to work at the job I was working at for the rest of my life.

When I went to college I found out a few things-
1. I learned NOT to take notes in class, but to just listen.
2. It is a lot more fun to be in classes participating in the discussion going on, learning, and taking in knowledge.
3. It is a lot more fun to know the answers on tests and get back good grades.
4. It is a lot more fun to be in classes when you can raise your hand and know the answer.
When I was in high school, the teacher would stand up and lecture and we took notes. And I would get frustrated because while he was talking, I was writing. By the time I got done writing, he was three sentences ahead of me, or had even changed topics and I was lost. Literally, even when I tried, I couldn’t keep up because I was taking notes.
Once I learned to just listen, and follow along, and take very little notes, I was able to keep up in class better. I could follow the conversation where before it was fact, write it down, lose the point, get lost, try and take another note, not understanding the relevance. So, I was always lost. At that point I would then start doodling on my paper or looking out the window and trying my best not to get called on.

In college I learned to just listen. I started to understand what was going on in class and being able to have an opinion on a book or subject was so refreshing! It was so great! I was part of the class! I wasn’t an idiot! I started doing the homework so I could participate more and my grades improved every year until I graduated with a 3.4 average for my four years. (Scale of 1-4)

Today, there are great gaps in my basic knowledge because I didn’t know how to “not take notes” or how to learn or how much fun it would be to actually contribute in class and have an opinion or how much fun it would be to actually get a good grade. Today, I miss these great gaps in my knowledge but there was nothing I could do to fix it at the time. I would say regret but regret involves a conscious choice to not do well and that wasn’t it. I just could not do well in school.

There was NOTHING anyone could have said to me in high school to motivate me. Not bribes. Not trips. Not threats or groundings or anything. I wanted to do well, I just didn’t know how.

No one could do it but me. My most important discovery was learning that I couldn’t take notes or I would lose the point of the conversation. As soon as I learned that, I started to do better and like a rock rolling down a hill, I gained more and more momentum and got better and better.

I don’t know what it is your mind needs to start the rock rolling down the hill. It might be the same thing as I did, by just listening in class and not taking notes. It might be something else. Only you can discover it, and once you do, you cannot stop the rock rolling. You will do better and better in school and it will be more fun and satisfying.


  1. I was the same way in school! I couldn't take notes but if I listened and read material over later or often reviewed a friend's notes I was just fine. I think teacher's don't effectively teach to different learning styles and if you're an audio learner and taught to take notes they are dooming you to failure...So glad you got the thirst for knowledge (not the 2 and a blue kind either) and it is yet to be sated. Looking forward to your triumphiant return to Magic, Luke

  2. 1. I had a similar-yet-very-different high school experience freshman and sophomore years. I got really good grades whenever I bothered to show up for class but I just didn't care about school; in fact, I hated it with every fiber of my being and all I could do in class was draw pictures of Spider-Man in my notebook when I was supposed to be taking notes. In hindsight, I wonder if this actually had something to do with my ability to get good grades in spite of myself? It's not something I ever really thought about before. In any case, yeah, taking notes is for the birds. In college I used to bring a tape recorder and just record the lecture so I could play it back at my leisure (highly recommended for any students/parents).

    2. On an unrelated note, I see you are now in love with Khalni Hydra. I appreciate its synergy w/ Primalcrux (which also combos nicely w/ Deity of Scars!) and I too like that Wizards is really pushing the envelope in terms of finding just much fat they can cram into a creature for how little. Here are some other recently printed fat bastards you may enjoy

    1. Rampaging Baloths
    2. Terra Stomper
    3. Wolfbriar Elemental (not really a fatty but I remember you saying you liked Saber Ants back in an old Dojo report, possibly of Vermont States 2000; wow, I have a good memory. ha)

  3. Actually, Mercadian Masques came out in 1999, now that I think about it. I guess I'm not the savant I think I am after all. :-)

  4. Hey Bro. I don't see you on-line (Yahoo) and I am not into the Facebook deal. Been thinking about you and hoping all is well and the wedding plans are going smoothly.

  5. I found in Uni I had to do different things for different subjects. In Maths I had to take down the notes, writing maths stuff out really etched in my head.
    Every other subject I had to play a game on my phone. I needed just that little bit of distraction so I didn't get bored and starting thinking about other things. With a game in hand I could put much more attention on the class than without.

    The one approach doesn't work for all subjects, let alone for all people.