Most of a teenager’s day revolves around school, whether the school is a public school, a private school, or a homeschool. One way or another, most of the day involves learning.
For most teenagers, someone else chooses what they’re going to learn. There are lists of subjects required for graduation and for getting into college. These are important subjects, but many teens don’t find them interesting, have a dull teacher or two, or have serious interests that aren’t included in the list of required topics. Other students are anxious to get well-educated in these subjects, but attend terrible schools. Some students just aren’t that good at school.
Even though it would be great if we could all go to the best schools or be good at every subject, or have our favorite topic offered as a required class for graduation, it’s important to remember that we are in charge of our own educations. Someone else might hire the teachers or choose the subjects, but we decide how much we’re going to get out of a time in our lives set aside for learning.
Here are five tips for making sure school isn’t boring:
- Make a boring class interesting by asking your teacher for his opinion on the subject he’s discussing. This makes him stop the lecture he’s given a hundred times and show you how he really feels about the subject, and may start a class discussion. Ask respectful, important questions that are on topic.
- Learn more than is taught. In survey classes, you tend to spend a week on a topic, barely skimming the surface. The really interesting parts of any subject are buried deep in the advanced material. Find books and websites on the topic and read until you find a part that interests you. Learning those things makes the basics more interesting.
- If you want to learn something that isn’t being taught at school, teach yourself. Find a mentor to teach you, read books, visit websites, and watch educational programs. Become an expert at something no one else knows anything about. Having one subject you’re excited about makes it easier to cope with the other subjects.
- Teach what you’re learning to someone else. The person who learns the most is always the teacher. You’ll learn to choose what is interesting, but also learn the material better. You can tutor or you can teach a younger sibling or friend.
- Connect a boring subject to something you enjoy. If you hate math but want to own a business, figure out how to use your math in your business and imagine yourself using it that way. If you love horses, but hate history, learn what role horses played in history. You can connect almost any two subjects.
A Mormon quote about education:
Part of the tragedy you must avoid is to discover too late that you missed an opportunity to prepare for a future only God could see for you. The chance to learn another language is for me a painful example. My father was born in Mexico. He grew up speaking Spanish as his first language. I lived in his home for more than 20 years. Sadly, I never asked him to teach me a word of Spanish. But my Church assignments have caused me to have contacts in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. It was no accident that I was born into a home with a Spanish-speaking father.
My father was a great teacher. He was a chemist. He even kept a blackboard in our basement for his children. He was eager to teach me mathematics. He spent hours trying to help me solve problems for my physics classes. He pled with me to think more often about those things that then seemed so uninteresting and unimportant. Years later I was called by the Lord to the Presiding Bishopric of the Church and given responsibilities for computing and communications systems. What a blessing I might have had if I had followed with my father the counsel I am giving to you now.
Your life is carefully watched over, as was mine. The Lord knows both what He will need you to do and what you will need to know to do it. You can with confidence expect that He has prepared opportunities for you to learn. You will not recognize those opportunities perfectly, as I did not. But when you put the spiritual things first in your life, you will be blessed to feel directed toward certain learning, and you will be motivated to work harder. (see Henry B. Eyring, “Real-Life Education,” NewEra, Apr 2009, 2–8.)