Wouldn’t it be great to graduate from school without ever having to study? Join AMBrewster as he teaches Christian parents and their children the six steps necessary to avoid cram sessions and start glorifying God in their education.
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I created today’s discussion about ten years ago, and I’ve delivered it to hundreds and hundreds of students from across the US.
Today’s episode won’t be too long, and — unfortunately — there won’t be much Scripture.
Here’s why: two episodes ago we learned to see learning from God’s perspective.
Last time we discovered what learning is all about and what makes Christian learning unique. Part of that last discussion was that we learned that acquiring knowledge without putting it to use to glorify God is pointless.
That’s what today is all about. We’re going to discuss some practical applications specifically designed to help us and our kids in an academic setting.
Now, it’s not really wisdom until your kids put it into practice, but this should give them something into which they can sink their teeth.
But — like I said — these practical principles aren’t specifically enumerated in Scripture, but I believe you’ll see that they are all logically based in biblical Truth.
So, I hope your kids are with us today, but if they’re not, remember these podcasts were created to help you teach your kids to learn.
Of course, I need to say something really important before we get started.
You can’t lead your children where you’re not going, and you can’t teach your kids to do something you don’t understand.
Here’s my point: you need to cycling through The Circle of Learning yourself before you can expect to model it for your kids. Now, that doesn’t mean you can teach it to them before you’re super good at it; I just want us not to be hypocritical.
It’s super easy to demand that our children be good students when — let’s be honest — we stink at it.
Next time I look forward to interviewing my mother about how to teach our kids to think. We won’t be able to do that well if our thinking isn’t what it should be.
Anyway, most of the students to whom I’ve imparted this information really liked it — in part —because it’s called “No Studying Allowed: how to graduate from school without ever studying.”
But — before we jump in — will you please take a moment to leave a star review. That would be awesome.
Okay, here we go.
I always like to start by defining my terms, so let’s do that.
I found this really weird dictionary. It’s called The Student’s Dictionary of Words They Often Misdefine. And this is how they define “studying: intensive, often last-minute preparation for tests and quizzes including short-term memorization.” And one of the included synonyms is “cramming.”
Okay, so that’s not a real dictionary, nor is that the correct definition of studying, but I’ve found that most students believe that’s exactly what studying is.
Now, let’s consider a slightly more legitimate dictionary shall we. dictionary.com defines studying as “application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge, as by reading, investigation, or reflection.” And one of the synonyms is “learning.”
So, I checked out the definition of learning and found the definition we saw earlier: “to acquire knowledge by study, instruction, or experience.”
So, studying and learning are actually identical concepts.
So, I suppose that calling this course “No Studying Allowed” is a little misleading. I probably should call it “No Cramming Allowed.”
Cramming is short-term “memorization.” It retains the information in the short-term memory for as long as possible (which normally isn’t very long). But true memorization moves information to the long-term memory.
Cramming causes us to forget most (if not all) of the information immediately after we take the quiz or test. This doesn’t benefit the student at all.
This is why traditional schooling requires so much intense review. If students truly learned the information the first time, they wouldn’t need to be constantly re-taught it. Small reviews would be all that was necessary to help the brain recall the information from the long-term memory.
But when the school system is preoccupied with students cramming in as much information as possible so they can pass their tests, they’re going to create a culture of low-level learning where students view information as a shallow means to an end.
As long as they can remember the information long enough to regurgitate it on a test, it will be okay for them to forget it. Because what child believes that the information they’re learning in school will actually be important in the future?
Of course, all of this thinking is immature and incorrect.
God created us to study, He requires us to study, and He empowers us to study.
And true study means we’re acquiring knowledge, understanding that knowledge, and then putting that knowledge to work through wise living that glorifies God.
But this kind of studying is nothing like what our kids do in preparation for tests.
So, now it’s time to use some wisdom to apply what we’re learned about learning to a school environment.
For all the children listening to me, I want you to answer these questions: What do you think it takes to learn in school? How can you avoid having multi-hour, weekend long cram sessions?
In answer to that last question, I have six main points.
1. Stay Healthy (All of the Time)
Now, this is a huge topic to which we could dedicated an entire podcast. In fact, one day I hope to have a whole section of TruthLoveParent.com dedicated to family health and wellness.
But, for now, I want to focus on two main areas when it comes to student health. The first is sleeping and the second is eating.
Children simply do not sleep enough. Eight hours isn’t enough. Especially if your child is lying down at eleven and waking up at seven. Sure, that’s eight hours in bed, but that’s not eight hours sleeping. Did you know that once you finally fall asleep, your body cycles through various levels of sleep including times of being awake.
We all actually wake up many times throughout the night and don’t even know it. In fact, sleep studies have revealed that this light sleep and wake times can add up to about 25% of our sleep. For every eight hours we spend asleep, we’re awake for two of those.
That means if your child is going to bed at ten and waking up at six, they’re not getting anywhere near eight hours of sleep.
This is one of the reasons experts will say children need ten to twelve hours of sleep. Ten to twelve hours in bed equates to eight to nine hours of sleep on average.
In addition, the sleep we get before midnight is far better than the sleep we get after twelve AM. Staying up late to cram is never a good idea. You’ll be tired, and you probably won’t remember most of what you crammed.
When I went to college, I promised myself that I would not stay up late or get too few hours of sleep. And I was able to achieve that most of the time. And while my friends were dragging like zombies — hyped up on coffee — I felt great most of the time.
And — speaking of coffee — God designed out bodies to run on the right fuel. When you pour into your body processed foods, acidifying foods, and inappropriate amounts of certain foods, it’s like pouring Mountain Dew into your car and wondering why it won’t work.
Again, this is a MASSIVE topic of which we can’t even scratch the surface, but I want to encourage you to study the importance of a Christ-honoring diet. I Corinthians 10:31 tells us that God must be glorified in the things we eat and drink, and sugar, processed foods, milk, tons of bread, and carbonated beverages are poisoning our bodies and will affect our ability to learn.
By the way, if you’re a professional in natural health and wellness and would be interested partnering with TLP to educate our families about how they can be intentional, premeditated, healthy families, then please contact us as TeamTLP@TruthLoveParent.com.
Okay, that’s the first point. You cannot learn the way God commanded you to learn if you’re pumping garbage into your system and taxing it beyond its capability. You need to be healthy if you’re going to learn well.
2. Focus (Before School and During School)
Part of focusing is understanding that you in school to learn. You’re not there to see friends. You’re not there to play. You’re not there to waste time. God has called you to being a student. Learning should be your most important focus.
Another part of learning to focus is to do the “Heartbeat Step.” You can do this before class, but you can also do it any time your minds begins to wander.
The Heartbeat Step is very simple. In fact, I’d like you to try it while I’m talking. Close your eyes, put your hand on your chest like you’re about to say the pledge of allegiance, and focus all of your attention on feeling your heart beating in your chest.
You can feel it. Pay close attention. In fact, if you focus hard enough, you can feel your heart beating in your chest without using your hand.
And when you get really good at focusing, you will be able to feel your blood pumping through every part of your body — even all the way out to your fingers and toes.
But, in order to do this well, you need to learn to block out the distractions and focus.
Now, the Heartbeat Step will not help you learn. In fact, it will distract you from learning, but the step is designed to help you focus on a concrete object, and then the purpose is to transfer that deep focus to something else . . . like your teacher or your assignment.
If you find your mind wandering, focus on feeling your heartbeat, and then take that laser focus and put it on the task at hand.
And speaking of tasks, another part of staying focused is to stay on task. Listen when it’s time to listen. Read when it’s time to read. Practice when it’s time to practice. Answer when it’s time to answer. Assess when it’s time to asses.
Here are a couple other helpful reminders when it comes to focusing in school: It was Jim Elliot who said, “Wherever you are . . . be ALL there.” Also remember that, “anything less than your best is a sin.”
And, the most important motivation we can have for our obedience and study is the fear of the Lord. Remember I Corinthians 10:31? “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
Alright, step one — Stay healthy. Step two — focus.
3. Take Notes (During School).
I know that note-taking is a dying art. But people learn best when they see(visual), hear (auditory), and do (kinesthetic). Taking notes is closest thing to “doing” information.
I can’t take the time to teach you how to take notes, but you can start simply copying down anything your teacher says that seems important. Even if you never go back and read those notes — which wouldn’t be a good idea — but even if you didn’t the process of note-taking is going to help you learn.
4. Ask Questions (During School)
You should never leave class if there is something you don’t understand. If that happens then you’re not learning. You won’t be able to use the information if you don’t understand it.
And, listen, you’re not going to “look stupid” when you ask a question. You’re the smart one for asking. And I guarantee there are other people in class who were wondering the same thing. And most “dumb” questions don’t get asked if you’re paying attention in the first place.
And yes, there are such things as dumb questions. They’re the one the teacher just answered but you weren’t paying enough attention to catch it. For example, the teacher says to open to page 27 and the genius in the back row raises his hand 27 seconds later wondering on what page he’s supposed to be. That’s a dumb question.
5. Complete your homework (as soon as possible).
Now, you should never do homework when you’ve been given another task in school, but it is best to complete homework at school during activity periods and study halls. When you work on your assignments during those time, you can generally go back to the teacher if you’re struggling, and it’s the way the time was designed to be used.
Remember, if you attend a private school, your parents aren’t paying for you to waste your time. God hates all forms of waste, and — consider this — why do homework at home if you can complete it at school?
I encourage the boys in my house to get as much homework done at school as they can. Home should be a place the family can grow together, not go their separate ways as dad does work on the computer and the kids continue their school in their rooms.
Also, when it comes to completing homework, don’t guess or make up answers just to fly through it and “get it done.” Use your book, notes, and memory to complete all homework at least the night before it’s due. The earlier you complete it the better chances you’ll have of getting it done and the better you’ll remember the information.
Now, let’s be honest, I haven’t told you anything you haven’t heard before.
And I know I started with a huge promises. I was gong to teach you how to graduate from school without ever having to have multi-hour long cram sessions.
Those five steps are the groundwork. If you’re not going to do those things, I can’t help you. And if you only do those things, you’ll be amazed how your grades will change.
But I do have one more point, and this one is the key. This step should enable you to organically and intelligently learn the information you’re being taught. And — once you’ve learned it — you won’t need to cram because you’ll already know the information, understand it, and know how to use it to the glory of God.
6. Here’s the sixth point — Review All Material (After School).
Here’s how it works: Take a few minutes per subject to review the previous lessons.
For example, for those of you with a more traditional class load, review your spelling every night. Scan through your English and Math notes every night.
You can even reread most sections of your textbooks each evening with only a little extra investment. Most chapters in your textbook are only ten to fifteen pages long, you could re-read your History and Science chapters every night and not spend more than half an hour doing it.
Remember that repetition aides learning. That means that the more you interact with the something, the easier it will be to remember it. By the third time you’ve read the chapter the third or fourth time, most of the information will be very familiar.
I did this all through college. I would take time every day to review what I had just learned in class. I would review my notes and skim though my text book. And while my peers were staying up late the night before the test and spending multiple hours cramming, I was enjoying my life.
Now, everyone’s different, and some of you will need to work harder to make these steps a regular part of your learning.
But what I’ve outlined for you is the way that you’ve learned to everything you love from walking to beating your favorite video game.
You play your best when you’re well-rested and healthy. You play your best when you’re completely focused on the nothing but the game. You play your best when you put what you’re learning in the game into practice. You play your best when you do extra reading about strategy and special codes or watch walk-throughs. You do your best when you play more often, and you do your best when you play consistently — even just a little every day.
Again, these six steps are how you’ve learned everything that’s important to you. And you can use the six same steps to learn the way God created, requires, and empowers you to learn.
Because if you stay healthy, do your best in every task you have, listen to the teacher, take good notes, work diligently on your homework, and review every night, you will NEVER have to cram for a test again, and your grades will improve dramatically!
Most importantly, you will have actually learned the information. And believe it or not, simply doing your best to learn will help make you a more mature and Christ-honoring individual. The discipline it takes to be a good student will help you become a good friend, worker, spouse, parent, and leader.
A person who recognizes that they were created to learn, who accepts the God-given responsibility to learn, and who taps into the Almighty Power of the universe in order to learn . . . will change the world.
And that’s what we all want for you.
Please share this episode, and don’t forget about our free notes linked in the description of this episode.
And, moms and dads, you totally need to joins us for our next episode when I talk to my mom about teaching your child to think.
I know that this whole parenting thing is likely bigger than you ever thought it would be. I mean, what expectant parent is cognizant of the fact that they will have to teach their child how to think?
But in the same way that God created, requires, and empowers us to learn, if you have kids, then you can know that God created you to parent, requires you to parent as His Ambassador, and will empower you to parent.
So, to that end, I’ll see you next time.
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