During my first week in the DMIN program, I can recall my Facebook post where I said that I was “Feeling overwhelmed with everything I have going on in life right now…My superwoman cape isn’t flying so high…I need to make some adjustments to my commitments to make room for this new chapter” Why did I feel as though I was expected to be “Super” in all areas of our life (Wife, Mother, Friend, Product Manager, Student, etc.)? The pressure that “having to be super” places on us is surreal yet we continue to try to meet up to this audacious false reality. I am reminded of this notion of shame that was discussed in Pierre Bayard’s book How to Talk About Books You Have Not Read. “To speak without shame about books we haven’t read, we would thus do well to free ourselves of the oppressive image of cultural literacy without gaps, as transmitted and imposed by family and school, for we can strive toward this image for a lifetime without ever managing to coincide with it” (Bayard, 129). I think the same applies to freeing ourselves of shame in regards to shortcoming in our lives and being able to admit that the “Super” image that we are trying to convey we will never attain and should not feel bad about that.
This week we are reading a book entitled Learn How to Study:Developing the study skills and approaches to learning that will help you succeed in university: A virtual tutorial with Professor Derek Rowntree. He begins the book by dispelling the myths about what it means to be a super student and learning how to develop skills and study habits. He insists that higher education is not about perfect memory and fact based learning but it is about gaining a richer, and deeper understanding. “What, then, do you really need to succeed? Three things: You need to understand what you want out of learning and what other people (especially tutors) expect of you. You need to develop approaches that will enable you to acquire the kind of learning that will satisfy your tutors while also getting what you want from the process. You need to convincingly demonstrate your learning in both formal and informal assessment situations” (Kindle, 316).
The book is organized in such a way that he provides his insight about a topic related to studying and then he provides questions that we can ask ourselves. Beyond the questions, there are also activities that we can do so that reading this book is more like reflective practice then just reading for comprehension. “In general, it is better to have more than one purpose in studying. The more reasons you can find for doing what you have to do, the more energy you’re likely to put into it — and the more you are likely to get out of it. Students who remain open to the unexpected will often find themselves getting more out of a course than they bargained for” (Kindle, 422).
While Rountree spent 3 chapters discussing how to read critically, I found it more interesting to read how he unpacked the idea of “Learning from Listening” in Chapter 8. Often times we assume that because we heard something meant that we were listening. Which if we can be honest depending on what was said, we may or may not have truly critically listened with the intent to understand. Active listening is something I am personally working on daily. I find myself having to listen to my inner voice that says “stop thinking and just listen”. My brain goes non stop. Even if it is processing contextually based on the conversation, lecture, etc., the spinning of my mental wheels can hinder my ability to fully understand what is being said. Rountree adds that it is not just what someone is saying but our focus should also be on the way in which it is being communicated to us.
Furthermore, in reading this book I found that there were so many of what I would call “mic drop” moments. These are moments as I was reading where the statement that he made struck a chord. For example:
- ” But the fact is, you almost certainly wouldn’t be in university unless the admissions tutors believe you have got what it takes” (Kindle, 236). The first quote provided addition reassurance that I do have what it takes.
- “Even the best of students has anxieties and self-doubts from time to time. The real test is whether you can admit them to yourself, be clear about their cause, and seek to cope with them by taking sensible action” (Kindle, 306). The takeaway for me here was it is not just about knowing I have anxiety and self doubt but I must come to an understanding of it root cause and do something about it.
- “Don’t seek for understanding only in situations or activities you are already comfortable with” (Kindle, 697). it is so easy to gravitate towards my comfort zone. To achieve understanding I will need to go out of my comfort zone. This is so true because I feel as though the global advances and the way the program is designed does just that!
So is being a super student a myth or a fact? Rountree would say (and I agree) it is definitely a myth. “Learning how to study in higher education is very much a matter of getting wiser about learning and understanding. If you are fortunate, you will be encouraged to see learning as something more creative than the memorization of true facts” (Kindle, 877). True learning comes by going beyond the surface to gain a deeper understanding while being able to reflectively practice using critical learning skills and habits. In doing so, learning becomes a creative, dynamic and fluid activity by which everyone who desires can glean from and engage in.