An Educator’s Education Philosophy

I have a number of philosophies I suggest students should adopt for success not only in this course, but in all courses, and perhaps life, in general. I tell my students to stop thinking about themselves as merely a student. Or, rather, stop thinking about themselves as only a student. Bring your life to class, stop leaving what you know, what you see, and what you experience outside in the hallway. That is not the way the world works. By using your experiences, you can challenger what you know, and help your professor challenge the class. Stop thinking of each class as a single stop on the way to obtaining a formal education. A class plays the same role as eggs, butter, flour, and milk when making cookies; a class is an ingredient in your learning. Omit an ingredient and you may receive different results.

Below, is an excerpt from my syllabus. Every student in every class I teach gets this commentary. Over the last 5 years or so, I began noticing students had really poor study habits. I blame the “no homework” atmosphere running roughshod over Secondary Education. When high school students get to college, not only are they not prepared academically, but unprepared for the shear amount of work each day. Thus, most of them need to have the rigors of college detailed.

First, students should conduct themselves as if college is a job, a course is a job duty, and the student is an employee. The reality is that a 12hr-semester is the equivalent to a full-time job. The formula is this: for every hour spent in class, three hours should be devoted for study per week. Thusly, 12 credit hours x 3 hours of study equals 36 hours; add the hours of class time (12), and we arrive at 48 hours per week. Of course, some classes will demand more, others less, and student ability varies. Obviously, though, we have arrived at a full week for a full-time student.

Life involves choices, and choices can become very challenging to make if a student is already involved in a full-time job. Life is further challenged if family duties are involved. As a result, giving 100% to school, 100% to work, and 100% to family is hardly tenable. Therefore, the best that can be done at times is to give 100% to the task at hand, for the amount of time available; then, let the pieces lie where they may. Acting in your best interest can help you make good choices. That may sound selfish, but often times we act for others to our own detriment. Protect your investment in your education.

Your work is a reflection of who you are. Do not be sloppy. Do not practice bad habits. Some students treat their education as they would a hobby. In fact, some students give more attention to hobbies than their education. Educating yourself is one of the best ways to make yourself a better person, make your family better, your community better, and make society better, as whole. Your investment in your education should not be taken lightly. You might lose your house, your job, your spouse, and unless Alzheimer’s comes along, you can never be stripped of your education or intellect. Unless you cheat; then you might lose your degree. Don’t cheat.

Finally, remember this:  the person you are competing with for a job may not be the person beside you in class, or attending a university in another U.S. state. The person you are competing with may be half a world away. The biggest competitor to your company may be a company in India, China, Japan, Germany, or Mexico. The suppliers for your business, or your own clients, may be from any country. Paying attention to the geography that affects your life may help you succeed where others fail. As much as your Life will allow, pay attention to the world. Eventually, with practice, you will begin to see patterns emerge, and better understand why events happen the way they do.

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