How Can I Do Better at School?
IMAGINE that you’re trapped in a dense, dark jungle. Virtually all sunlight is blocked by the lush canopy overhead. Surrounded by thick vegetation, you can barely move. To escape, you must cut your way through with a machete.
Some would say that the experience of school is similar to the scene described above. After all, you’re trapped all day in the classroom and hemmed in at night by hours of homework. Is that how you feel? On the line below, write down which school subject you find most challenging.
Perhaps your parents and teachers have urged you to put forth more effort in this subject. If so, they’re not trying to make your life difficult! They just want you to reach your full potential. So, what can you do if the pressure to measure up makes you want to give up? With the proper tools, you can clear a path through the jungle. What are these tools?
● Tool 1: A healthy attitude toward learning. It’s hard to be motivated to do well in school if you have a negative view of learning. So try to see the big picture. The Christian apostle Paul wrote: “The man who plows ought to plow in hope and the man who threshes ought to do so in hope of being a partaker.”—1 Corinthians 9:10.
Seeing the value of “plowing” through certain subjects may not be easy. Why? Because not everything in your curriculum may seem relevant—at least not now. Still, an education in a variety of subjects will enrich your understanding of the world around you. It will help you to “become all things to people of all sorts,” giving you the ability to talk to people of various backgrounds. (1 Corinthians 9:22) At the very least, you will improve your thinking ability—a skill that will surely help you in the long run.
● Tool 2: A positive view of your abilities. School can reveal your hidden talents. Paul wrote to Timothy: “Stir up like a fire the gift of God which is in you.” (2 Timothy 1:6) Evidently, Timothy had been appointed to some special service in the Christian congregation. But his God-given ability—his “gift”—needed to be cultivated so that it would not lie dormant or go to waste. Of course, your scholastic abilities are not directly bestowed upon you by God. Nevertheless, the talents you have are unique to you. School can help you to discover and nurture abilities that you never knew you had.
Don’t set yourself up for disaster by thinking that you’re simply not capable of improving. When beset with negative thoughts about your abilities, replace them with positive thoughts. For example, when people, perhaps unjustifiably, criticized Paul’s speaking ability, he replied: “Even if I am unskilled in speech, I certainly am not in knowledge.” (2 Corinthians 10:10; 11:6) Paul was aware of his weaknesses. But he also knew his strengths.
What about you? What are your strengths? If you cannot think of them, why not ask a supportive adult? Such a friend can help you to identify your strengths and to make the most of them.
● Tool 3: Good study habits. There’s no shortcut to success at school. Sooner or later, you have to study. Granted, that very word might have an unpleasant ring to it. However, study is beneficial. In fact, with a little effort, you may find it enjoyable.
To cultivate good study habits, though, you will need to organize your time. Remember—while you’re in school, study should be a priority. True, the Bible says that there’s “a time to laugh” and “a time to skip about.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4; 11:9) So, like most youths, you probably want to leave some time for recreation.* But Ecclesiastes 11:4 warns: “He that is watching the wind will not sow seed; and he that is looking at the clouds will not reap.” The lesson? Study first, play second. Don’t worry—you can find time for both!
Help for Your Homework
What, though, if you’re simply swamped with homework? Perhaps you feel as did 17-year-old Sandrine, who said: “I spend from two to three hours a night on my homework, plus the weekends.” How can you cope with the onslaught? Try the suggestions on page 119.
Clearing the Path
Regarding matters pertaining to spiritual progress, Paul wrote to Timothy: “Give your whole attention, all your energies, to these things, so that your progress is plain for all to see.” (1 Timothy 4:15, Phillips) Similarly, with diligent effort, your academic progress will be evident.
Think of the illustration presented at the outset of this chapter. Trapped in a dense jungle, you would need the proper tool—a machete—to clear a path. The same is true with school. Rather than feel overwhelmed by the demands of your parents and teachers, use the three tools that have been discussed in this chapter to make a success of school. As your performance improves, you’ll be glad you did!
READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC IN VOLUME 1, CHAPTER 18
As if you didn’t have enough problems at school, now you’re being harassed. What can you do about it?
For more information on recreation, see Section 8 of this book.
“He that is watching the wind will not sow seed; and he that is looking at the clouds will not reap.”—Ecclesiastes 11:4.
When studying, first survey the material, getting an overview of it. Next, make up questions based on main headings. Then read the material, looking for the answers. Finally, see if you can recall what you’ve read.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
Cheating can lead to loss of trust as well as stunted academic growth. Above all, it harms your relationship with God.—Proverbs 11:1.
On my next report card, I would like ․․․․․ to be my grade in the following subject: ․․․․․
I will strive to improve in that subject by doing the following: ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● Why should you apply yourself to your studies at school?
● What kind of study/homework schedule will work for you?
● In your home, where is the best place for you to do your homework and to study?
● How can you keep hobbies and recreation from interfering with your grades?
[Blurb on page 117]
“I see it in other youths my age. 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.”—Sylvie
[Box/Picture on page 119]
Find a study area. It should be free of distractions. Use a desk if possible. Don’t have the TV on.
Set priorities. Since your schooling is important, resolve that you won’t turn on the TV until your homework is done.
Don’t procrastinate. Have a definite schedule for your homework, and stick to it.
Have a plan. Decide which project you should tackle first, which one second, and so forth. List these on paper, and give each one a time limit. Cross off each assignment as you complete it.
Take breaks. If you find yourself losing focus, stop for a brief rest. But get back to your homework as soon as possible.
Have confidence in yourself. Remember, the difference between a good student and a poor one usually has more to do with diligence than intelligence. You can make a success of school. Put forth the effort, and you will reap the rewards.
[Picture on page 116]
Getting through school can be like cutting your way through a dense jungle—but both are possible with the right tools