STUDIES: WHY, HOW, WHAT AND WHEN?

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When I was a child, I used to think that studies were a gross encroachment on my play time. While I did not detest going to school, but that was not for studies – it was for my friends, games we shall play and the fun times we would have; the price of course for the good times was, attending school-classes.

Why study?

The question that pre-occupied my mind during my young age – why study? Many readers of this article may have gone through this conundrum, and some may silently be going through the dilemma – does education help? Why study and waste money, time and energy?

Parents would always goad us to study. Some would push us to learn hard and fast, and many would only accept outstanding outcome in examinations. I believe that the pressure on the kids commence from the innate desire of the parents to make their children do better than perhaps what they themselves could attain. The pressure of performing well in exams forced me to sacrifice quality play-time. And many amongst you would have faced and perhaps is facing, similar challenge.  Is this childhood? A million dollar question indeed!

There is no denial that education is the stepping stone of human progress. It encompasses acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs and habits. But, if it can be attained while enjoying the student-hood the process would make the outcome better. It is beneficial to give up the rat-race to stand first in the class. Avoid mugging up your study material; try to fathom the concepts elucidated in the text books; ponder over what the study materials say and not just memorize the contents by heart. Aspire to succeed by understanding and imbibing the theories and models ascribed in the text books. Help others in your quest for knowledge. Assist your friend who could be deficient in her abilities. If you practice these, you will find – learning is great fun.

What is important for all us – parents and students, we need to become after all a better citizen, a good human being, and a person who contributes positively to the wellbeing of others. Just imagine, if the world would have been full of such sage-like humans, would it not be a better place to live?

To make education fun and enjoyable, it is the responsibility of all us – the educators, the teachers and the parents. Awareness of mixing learning with pleasure will entail many of the efforts give positive results.

How to study?

Given the socio-economic background of our country and the system of education we follow, I would like to provide some ideas to the students for enhancing their study impact.  

First and foremost, what you study, try to understand the concept behind it. If you are learning trigonometry, try to understand where and how the theories can be used. When studying calculus, try to form mathematical models to arrive at optimal solution in physics, engineering, economics, statistics, and medicine. While learning accountancy, assimilate the concept of return-on-investment and how it is the king of all financial ratios to judge the performance of any business venture.

When you go for your job interviews in the future, the interviewer would usually give you real-life examples and you will need to provide a solution by using the concepts you know. This would impress the interviewer the most – and not letting them know the mugged contents of some paragraphs from your study material.

Next, rehearse and review what you study. Practice makes your learning complete and your skills ample. The theoretical concepts you have studied, the mathematical equations you have been taught, and the questions which you have been provided answers with, need to be reread, rewritten and revised. More you will practice, your understanding will keep improving and your expertise sharpened.

Communication is one of the fulcrums of success. You can let others know of you and what your views are, only through communiqué – oral and written. There is no substitute for superior ability to seamlessly connect. Most of us are good thinkers and have fair understanding. But knowledge is not the end. You need to let others know of your ideas, concepts, visions and elucidations. When you meet someone, apart from the first impression obtained through looks and demeanor, the only other way to judge and assess is after hearing the person you met. A great way you can enhance your communication skills is through teaching – teach in a school or college; fumble and falter; and slowly but surely you will gain in confidence to communicate. Believe me, it works like magic!

This is the age of selling and marketing. Hence, presentation skill is another area where you will need to focus upon – keep it simple, crisp and focused.

What to study?

Loads of new educational outfits are mushrooming across the country, fancy advertisements announcing their offerings, the abundance of career-related programs and the stressed-out students with hopes of securing a high-paying corporate job – are all adding confusion than providing clarity.

While in school, little did we have the possibility of choosing what we would like to learn. But as times went by and as one progressed to higher standards, mental confusion manifested itself – what should one study? I remember when I was in standard nine; I had to choose between science, arts or commerce. I chose the latter one, and fortunately never regretted. But all of us are not always so lucky. Many a times, we study what our parents want to. My advice to one and all – learn what you like. A child could be a very good painter – study arts; or a talented singer – teach her better ways to sing. But basic education yet should be imparted even if painting, singing, music or sports are being taught with more focus. A child shines where her talent lies; she learns the best what she enjoys the most.

Sometimes a student could be talented with the ability to pick up many a topic. My sane advice at this stage, study what is the flavor of the season. Many sharp youngsters over the last several years have studied computers and information-technology; and see the outcome. Hordes of them are abroad and many prospering in the dream destinations like USA, Canada, Europe and Australia.

Currently, India is going through a transition, ‘Industry 4.0’ (the fourth industrial revolution) is in the making. This trend is getting lot of focus from the government and the industries. Learning on trends in automation, big-data analysis, cyber-crime prevention, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing, will do a world of good. Artificial intelligence and robotics are the future.

In addition, with the growth in per capita income, the need for servicing good health and longer life-span will enhance. Hence demand for doctors, nurses, bio-technologists, nutritionists, fitness-trainers, beauticians will increase manifold.

New modes of financial skills including superior management information system, funding specialists, and customer relationship management (CRM) through smart-phones, are just a few other trends which are catching the attention of many businesses.

Social media and digital advertising are changing the way communications are taking place between the customers and the product or service providers. The focus on audience-based advertising is allowing brands to be more effective in reaching target audiences with significantly less wastage. Innovative tricks in the new-age advertising are to be learnt – another potential area for the future.  

In short, liberal art courses is losing ground to business management and several technology related programs.

When to study?

Anytime, is study-time. When I was young, I was told that early mornings are best for studies. And I hated this advice. Being a habitual late riser, for me later it got into the day, better my ability to focus, and improved. There is nothing like the quite night-hours for concentration. And to top it all, I loved an afternoon nap to recharge the brain-batteries.

There is no doubt that hard work and sincerity is the key. Study as long as you can – no hard and fast rule. Some can learn in a few hours, what others would take the whole day. So be it. The bottom line is: study as long as it is required. Complete the whole study material and the full syllabus. Do not leave out portions, hoping that questions shall not to be asked from your non-prepared portions.

In essence, whether its dusk or dawn, evening or morning, late night or early mornings, you can study whenever you feel like. As long as you can concentrate, every hour is study time.

Studies are cool-stuff

It brings me back to the original stuff – why, how and what to study? If studies could be given dollops of fun, then why not pursue it? Enjoy the process of learning – positive results are bound to follow sooner than later. Study whenever and whatever you like. Attain expertise in the subjects and areas you love. Parents and teachers need to extend their helping hands to attain the dreams of the young and the fledgling.  

Think. Are there any downsides of being trained, well-read and enlightened? Debate as much as you will, but the answer would only provide upsides. If you are knowledgeable and learned, don’t you think that your ability to conduct your affairs, be it business, politics, social welfare or otherwise, be better? Your capability to get a perspective of what is happening around would expand. You would be endowed with skills to demarcate the good from the bad, to select the right from the wrong, and distinguish the black-and-white from the shades of gray. It is a win-win for you, us and the world.

So, study and learn as much as you can. Do not ever give up – education builds intelligence and character. Education is not readiness for life; it is life itself.  

This article was originally published in Abacus Magazine, April 2018: Published by Rajasthani Sammelan Education Trust. 

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