Young People Ask . . .
Why Should I Study Hard in School?
‘Most of what we learn in school is just theory anyway. None of it really has any practical value.’
‘Homework doesn’t interest me. I’m more interested in other things, like sports and going out with my friends.’
‘I know I’m going to enter the full-time ministry, so what’s the point of working hard in school?’
COMMENTS like these are often made by youths when they speak of school and homework. Perhaps you share their sentiments.
Admittedly, given the choice between study and recreation, most youths would probably opt for the latter. Some may even wish they never had to study at all. They do not take learning seriously; they cannot imagine what difference it will make in their lives. On the other hand, perhaps you are one who wants to succeed in school but has little enthusiasm for your schoolwork. ‘I’m just not the studious type,’ you reason.
Whatever your feelings, interests, or abilities, you can make a success of school. But you must be motivated to do so. And examining the benefits that may come your way if you study hard may just give your motivation a real boost.
Much of what you study in school may not now seem relevant to your life. Unless you are planning a career as a scientist, you will likely have little use in the future for the physics formulas your teacher may have made you learn. Further, it is not likely that as an adult you will have a day-to-day need to conjugate verbs or compute the angles of an isosceles triangle. ‘So, what is the point of studying all that?’ you ask.
For one thing, school provides you the opportunity to gain a good general knowledge of many different subjects, such as history, literature, science, geography, and mathematics. This broad base of knowledge will enrich your understanding of the world around you and will form a foundation on which more specific information can be added. “To the understanding one knowledge is an easy thing,” says Proverbs 14:6.
In his book Savoir étudier (Knowing How to Study), Robert Bosquet further explains that the mind’s potential for learning “must be discovered progressively and put into working order.” He adds: “It is common knowledge that a sports champion will only achieve his best results after a long period of training during which he discovers how to use his abilities to the full. . . . Knowing how to study is just that: using your full potential, getting the best results, with the minimum of time and effort.”
Homework may therefore be called a brain exercise. “The brain is . . . a vast interconnecting network,” says the book How to Study, “and the more complex and interconnected it becomes the more efficiently it works.” School assignments can help you sharpen your abilities to concentrate, to reason, to memorize, to analyze a problem, and to draw logical conclusions.
Emotional and Spiritual Growth
Your school years are also a time of emotional and spiritual growth. You are developing habits and attitudes that will to a large extent determine the kind of adult you will be. Will you be industrious, diligent, self-disciplined, and competent—someone an employer would want to hire? Training yourself now to have good work and study habits will have life-long benefits. (Compare Proverbs 22:6.) Among other things, it may have a profound impact on your economic future and employment prospects. Many businesses use a person’s record of academic achievement as an indicator of an applicant’s future work potential.
Your study habits also affect your spiritual development. Jesus taught that a person should worship God with his “whole mind.” (Mark 12:30) This implies that God’s servants, young and old, would need to apply their minds vigorously to take in the knowledge that Jehovah makes available to them and to understand how to apply it in their lives.—John 17:3; 1 Timothy 4:7.
“I see it in other youths my age,” remarks Sylvie, a young woman in France. “The study habits they had in school carried over to their personal study habits in spiritual matters. Those who didn’t learn to like studying in school weren’t that interested in personal Bible study either.” Proverbs 10:4 says: “The one working with a slack hand will be of little means, but the hand of the diligent one is what will make one rich.” This proved true for Sylvie in a spiritual sense. Her good study habits made it easier for her to deepen her understanding of the Bible. This prepared her for her career as a full-time evangelizer.—Compare Psalm 1:2, 3.
Learn How to Study
But what if you are not studiously inclined? Realize that the primary difference between a good student and a poor student is usually diligence—not intelligence. “I didn’t have a lot of natural ability like some other students,” admits Sylvie. “To do well in school, I really had to work and work just to get decent grades.” Although school wasn’t easy for her, Sylvie put forth diligent efforts; she learned not only how to study but also how to enjoy it. “Because it became a habit,” she says, “it was not such a big chore to study or research a subject. I learned to do it naturally.”
In his book How to Study, Harry Maddox says: “Ability alone is not enough. Many highly intelligent students fail . . . because they do insufficient work, or because they have never learned how to study effectively.” He adds: “Efficient methods of study are worth learning not only for your immediate purposes of study, but because your habits of work will stay with you all your life.”
People usually enjoy doing things that they do well—and they tend to avoid things they do poorly. Perhaps you dislike schoolwork, then, because you haven’t developed your study skills sufficiently to make your work enjoyable. If so, why not focus on learning how to study? Helpful information is given in chapter 18 of the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work.*
Look Beyond Your School Years
Many students neglect their studies simply because they would rather be doing something else—such as having a good time. But Proverbs 21:17 warns: “He that is loving merriment will be an individual in want.” Recreation and relaxation do have their place. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4) However, while you are in school, studying should be one of your priorities. The results you achieve will largely be determined by how much effort you are willing to put forth. “By every kind of toil there comes to be an advantage,” says Proverbs 14:23.
This does not mean that you will necessarily like every class or school assignment you receive. But you can try to see your education as a positive means to an end—gaining knowledge and skills that will help you lead a useful and productive life. True, educational requirements and economic conditions vary widely from country to country. Even so, many young people leave school without having acquired even the most basic learning skills; they find themselves unprepared or unqualified for most types of employment. And why? Because they didn’t apply themselves while in school.
Do not fall into this trap! Look beyond your school years and plan on being able to support yourself after you leave school. Some day you may well have the responsibility of providing for a family. (1 Timothy 5:8; compare Proverbs 24:27.) Like many youths among Jehovah’s Witnesses, you too may be planning a career as a full-time evangelizer. You will still have to support yourself and perhaps even a family. So think ahead. Long before graduating, try to find out what types of part-time work are available where you live. Applying yourself to your schoolwork can help you to develop the skills necessary to obtain such jobs.
Whatever your future plans are, it makes sense to study hard in school. No, you may not necessarily make it to the top of your class. But you can learn to love learning. Better yet, you can develop knowledge, skills, and habits that will benefit you throughout life.
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
[Picture on page 18]
The learning skills you develop while in school will benefit you throughout life