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How To Study
September 13, 2010 6:30 AM   Subscribe

(From the NYT) Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits which has links to some interesting studies on, well, studying. Think you know the best ways to study? Think you have some kind of specific learning style? Maybe Not. Think it's best to focus on a single thing when studying? Probably Not. Think "teaching to the test" is a bad way to learn? Maybe Not So. It seems the best way to study can be summarized as: Alternate you study environment; Mix your content; Space out your study session; And self-test.
posted by Blake (48 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ah, "learning styles". That was always the logic behind K-12 teachers assigning us those stupid poster/diorama projects--some students are "visual learners". How great it would be if these studies put a stop to all that. I just hope the teachers/curriculum developers/whoever don't see the focus-on-several-things-per-session bit and say, "but we're making your learning EXTRA effective by reinforcing your history knowledge AND your art skills!"
posted by randomname25 at 6:43 AM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is dismaying. My poor grades weren't due to bad study habits as I've always claimed. I was studying properly -- turns out I'm just kinda stupid.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:46 AM on September 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


Did they examine the effectiveness of not "studying" my "notes" but instead paying attention during class? That got me pretty good grades and was a big relief on my writing hand as well.
posted by DU at 6:50 AM on September 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Science, FTW.
posted by schmod at 6:59 AM on September 13, 2010


Did they examine the effectiveness of not making school so fucking boring? I barely passed HS not because I wasn't smart because I rarely did homework, yet got A's on tests and sometimes wasn't there. It was like a prison designed to taste your sanity.
posted by nomadicink at 7:00 AM on September 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


The study finding that alternating the artists made it easier to distinguish than studying the artists serially had a deeper point: despite students doing better with spacing, they thought they'd do better with massing.

This supports an idea I've long had: that students prefer studying styles that are well suited to studying, not actual learning. There's no way for them to relate studying to learning since the same style is repeatedly used.

Which brings me to the second problem: schools choose learning styles that are best suited to the teaching, not the learning. I offer both elementary school math and high school history as examples. "When was the War of 1812?" Sweet.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 7:08 AM on September 13, 2010


The War of 1812? The correct answer is not 1812. The War of 1812 occurred in the years from 1812 thru 1815. Aha! Back to the books, with you!
posted by storybored at 7:29 AM on September 13, 2010


Too many of my ex students did an internet test one time and determined they were visual learners, then complained constantly that they weren't being fairly treated. Nearly as bad as the number of people who think they're borderline autistic after answering ten questions on wikipedia and then spend a semester trying to get extra time on their paper.

At least people who do the learning styles thing are interested in how it all works though. One student told me they were a very tactile person - I didn't ask how that might be incorporated into the learning environment but I'm still quite curious. Fuzzy felt notes?
posted by shinybaum at 7:39 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you study high, you have to take the test high.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:41 AM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


One student told me they were a very tactile person - I didn't ask how that might be incorporated into the learning environment but I'm still quite curious. Fuzzy felt notes?

I sometimes describe myself as a "tactile thinker" but I don't know if it's the same thing this student meant. What I mean by it is that I imagine things, even non-mechanical things, mechanically. When you describe a new fact to me and I say "that fits in" I can almost FEEL the fact slotting into place. When puzzling out a confusing algorithm and I draw it, it isn't because I'm a "visual thinker" it's because I need to mime the movements of moving things around in the computer. "So this goes HERE and then that comes in and lands on THIS just before that guy pops over and..." *scribble scribble*
posted by DU at 7:47 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Science, FTW.

The most frustrating part, is that everyone is convinced that they're an expert on this subject. "Oh well that isn't how I learn best."
We're all far too willing to believe that we're the exception to the rule, and an expert on our own minds, bodies and behavior.
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:53 AM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


We're all far too willing to believe that we're the exception to the rule, and an expert on our own minds, bodies and behavior.

I think it depends what they use their information for. For some people googling before a doctors visit or learning centre just allows them to frame things better and understand more.

Some of the time people just want a laundry list of 'How Your Education Industrial Complex Is Failing Me, Let Me Show You' with no intention of changing their own habits to help them succeed. Think you're a visual thinker? buy a highlighter pen, don't complain that handouts need to be in pink before you understand them.

I imagine things, even non-mechanical things, mechanically.

That makes sense.
posted by shinybaum at 8:05 AM on September 13, 2010


At least people who do the learning styles thing are interested in how it all works though. One student told me they were a very tactile person - I didn't ask how that might be incorporated into the learning environment but I'm still quite curious. Fuzzy felt notes?
It could be the way people conceptualize things. I had the opportunity to do some tutoring for some people just learning negative numbers. Some folks visualized using the number line just fine, but one of the students couldn't grok it until I put the concept in terms of hot and cold. The visual of moving up and down a line didn't work for him, but the tactile concept of hot canceling cold did. I could see someone defining that as the difference between visual and tactile.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:21 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Studying is a ridiculous and useless skill, and it's a travesty that schools still insist on clinging to educational structures that require students to train themselves to do something so wholly pointless and unnecessary. No one has ever used the habits learned in 'studying' in later life; and being able to 'study' isn't in any way an actual education to thoughtfulness, rationality, or open-mindedness.

Maybe if students weren't so busy studying, they could spend some time learning something that's actually practical and useful for life. Like reading. I'm not being flippant. Reading isn't easy, and it takes a long time to learn how to read carefully. In fact, as I learned when I went to grad school, learning to 'study' is in many ways the opposite of learning how to read; 'studying' means skimming texts as efficiently as possible, ignoring everything the author is actually saying and concentrating solely on what the teacher wants you to repeat verbatim on a test. Page count is mistaken for a measure of seriousness, and students are weighted down with hundreds of pages of 'reading' which includes badly-written journal articles and textbooks, from which the student is expected to glean 'key points' by picking out phrases from chapter headings and clearly-demarcated introductory paragraphs. It's all roughly the intellectual equivalent of doing a very large and tedious crossword puzzle; it's mildly stimulating to a low-level logistical part of the brain, but it doesn't actually involve engaging the subject matter itself or the topic at hand in any way.

In the best class I've ever taken, we spend an entire semester on the first fifty pages of Aristotle's On The Soul. Fifty pages. No outside commentaries, no journal articles, no expository essays – fifty pages, and yet I spent more hours reading, actually reading, in preparation for that class than any other class I've ever taken. And I learned more there that I've actually used in my life than in all the other classes, particularly about what it really means to thoughtfully engage a difficult problem.
posted by koeselitz at 8:26 AM on September 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


Don't you think it's a little odd to link to page 2 of the nytimes story?
posted by Rhomboid at 8:30 AM on September 13, 2010


D'oh! Sorry. I did link it to page 2, not sure how I did that, wasn't intentional.
posted by Blake at 8:33 AM on September 13, 2010


Minnesota Public Radio had an interesting discussion of the NYT article featuring one of the study authors quoted. You can listen to it here (sadly, it seems to be audio only, fyi for all you visual learners).

I'm not totally surprised that 'everything we know about studying is wrong.' It seems like education suffers from a number of fads that don't always get the rigorous testing they deserve (standardized testing, anyone? I know it's recognized as 'not so bad' in the article, but how it's currently implemented, I think the authors would agree, is 'so bad.'). I'm sure other fields have this issue as well and I'm guessing it's human nature, but education has more serious implications than, say, marketing.

I could wish for statistically accurate, methodologically sound, longitudinally oriented studies to be completed before education is jerked by public policy folks into whatever fad they are convinced will best serve students. Of course, I could wish for the moon to be made out of cheese, as well.
posted by librarylis at 8:36 AM on September 13, 2010




Maybe if students weren't so busy studying, they could spend some time learning something that's actually practical and useful for life. Like reading. I'm not being flippant. Reading isn't easy, and it takes a long time to learn how to read carefully. In fact, as I learned when I went to grad school, learning to 'study' is in many ways the opposite of learning how to read; 'studying' means skimming texts as efficiently as possible, ignoring everything the author is actually saying and concentrating solely on what the teacher wants you to repeat verbatim on a test.


At any level of academic pursuit it's incredibly useful to be able to synthesize a large amount of material very quickly, pick out the author's thesis and key points and set aside useful information for later.
Now and then I've applied that to life outside the ivory tower as well, and taught myself how to do things under similar circumstances.
Other than that, I agree... tests certainly don't teach too many essential skills. The early years of school really are just a rush to cram in as much base-line information as possible, for later use.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:37 AM on September 13, 2010


Studying is a ridiculous and useless skill, and it's a travesty that schools still insist on clinging to educational structures that require students to train themselves to do something so wholly pointless and unnecessary. No one has ever used the habits learned in 'studying' in later life; and being able to 'study' isn't in any way an actual education to thoughtfulness, rationality, or open-mindedness.

I dunno ... It served me pretty well in Engineering school.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:50 AM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reading isn't easy, and it takes a long time to learn how to read carefully.

Yes, information literacy is more important than retaining a list of facts. Facts aren't useless though, and a broad range of basic facts can be essential to happy living.
posted by shinybaum at 8:59 AM on September 13, 2010


The idea that testing improves learning won't sit well with Big Education.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:08 AM on September 13, 2010


That's true, shinybaum. And my take is really colored by my own background in the humanities and the liberal arts. I still think that doing all that 'reading' of four or five books per class period for various classes I did in grad school for Political Science was utterly pointless. However, if you're, say, a doctor, in many ways you're supposed to be learning to repeat facts; facts are what you're trained in. I still think most schools sorely neglect actual critical thinking, though; and one thing to notice is that I have a strong conviction that a sharpened ability to think critically and rationally increases one's ability to manage knowledge of facts.
posted by koeselitz at 9:08 AM on September 13, 2010


To a certain extent, yeah, koeselitz. To a much greater extent doctors should be learning rubrics and reasoning frameworks, and how to evaluate evidence and journal articles and how to interact with patients/clients. When it comes to facts, sure you've got to be able to spit some back out, to prove you learned something, but really what you learn is where the hell to go when you forget all the facts you've learned, or what to do when the facts change--which they do, even in my discipline--and how to reason decisions through.

The most helpful class my students have never taken is philosophy of science or philosophy of biology. And I've had a lot of book-smart, fact-laden kids hit clinics and flail like the dickens when they realize that there's no such thing as a textbook case and sometimes there's not even a right answer.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 9:20 AM on September 13, 2010


One student told me they were a very tactile person - I didn't ask how that might be incorporated into the learning environment but I'm still quite curious.

Yeah, this will get you in trouble in sex education.
posted by mecran01 at 9:45 AM on September 13, 2010


The idea that testing improves learning won't sit well with Big Education.

Right, but I don't have a choice. As an educator, I'm forced to assign grades to students. I have to have some sort of system in place to assign these grades, as giving them out at my own discretion wouldn't sit well with anyone (except for possibly me).

So, I give tests. I give quizzes. I let the students struggle with them and I loathe every moment of my life I have to spend grading the inane ramblings of students trying their damnedest to get partial credit. You see, no one cares if the students actually understand what they're doing or if their answers make sense. They're just after "points".

If it were up to me, I would just have a 30-minute conversation with each student at the end of the semester to see if they knew what they were talking about, and assign a grade based on this conversation. It would also (at least partially) require them to know what they were doing, since it's basically impossible for a college freshman to "trick" me into thinking he knows what the Riemann integral is.

But alas, as long as colleges/universities remain a business in which a lot of people make a lot of money off of unsuspecting folk, my dream will never be.
posted by King Bee at 9:49 AM on September 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Studying is a ridiculous and useless skill

I'm not sure what you think studying is, viz.,

1. To apply one's mind purposefully to the acquisition of knowledge or understanding of (a subject).
2. To read carefully.
3. To memorize.
4. To take (a course) at a school.
5. To inquire into; investigate.
6. To examine closely; scrutinize.
7. To give careful thought to; contemplate: study the next move.
v.intr.
1. To apply oneself to learning, especially by reading.
2. To pursue a course of study.
3. To ponder; reflect.

Perhpas you're using one of the more parochial definitions? Maybe, "to memorize"? In any event, I have to violently disagree with your first statement, although the remainder of your comment is a good description of how to study.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:59 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]




If it were up to me, I would just have a 30-minute conversation with each student at the end of the semester to see if they knew what they were talking about, and assign a grade based on this conversation. It would also (at least partially) require them to know what they were doing, since it's basically impossible for a college freshman to "trick" me into thinking he knows what the Riemann integral is.


That's actually fairly brilliant.
I suspect that it's sort of what the long essay form is trying to simulate.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:59 AM on September 13, 2010


If it were up to me, I would just have a 30-minute conversation with each student at the end of the semester to see if they knew what they were talking about, and assign a grade based on this conversation. It would also (at least partially) require them to know what they were doing, since it's basically impossible for a college freshman to "trick" me into thinking he knows what the Riemann integral is.

I had some classes with informal oral examinations that felt a lot like that. Trying to prepare was nerve-wracking because there was a lot of material to make sure I had a handle on, but once the exam had started? It was, basically, a 30-minute conversation to establish that students knew what they were talking about. It's great when you get to leave an exam feeling excited about material because you just got to have a friendly argument about it, or by explaining it you discover that actually you knew it better than you thought.

(My classes with awesome examinations like that had them in conjunction with term papers, though, and they were all in the humanities.)
posted by bewilderbeast at 10:09 AM on September 13, 2010


My test for school age students would be something like 'here are three periodicals on the subject, which is telling the more useful history of x'. 'here is a google, tell me y, explain yourself'.

I remember one of my lecturers lending me Myth of the Britannica by Harvey Einbender after our first chat and the penny finally dropping.
posted by shinybaum at 10:18 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


TheLastPsychiatrist: This supports an idea I've long had: that students prefer studying styles that are well suited to studying, not actual learning. There's no way for them to relate studying to learning since the same style is repeatedly used.

This may not be precisely what TheLastPsychiatrist was getting at, but it's possibly close ...

There's a very large research literature on metacomprehension. One of the most-prolific researchers in this field is John Dunlosky at Kent State, and a recent, reasonably accessible (and short) article summarizing some of this research can be found here (PDF). My own short summary of the likely biggest problem with how students study is that they assess their own learning immediately after (or even while) studying, when the information studied is easily accessible. Based on this success, they come to believe that they know the material, and then come exam time discover that it's hard or impossible to retrieve. The trick is to simulate test conditions by putting away notes and books, waiting a while, and then finding out if the information is still accessible under those conditions.
posted by anaphoric at 10:20 AM on September 13, 2010


I know the idea sounds good, but I have roughly 200 students divided among 4 classes. (Maybe about 2,000 or so are all taking the same course, I get 200 of them.) Due to the "introductory" nature of these courses, universities want them standardized. This means things like

1. everyone uses the same book (not taking into account how useless the text may actually be depending on the instructor's method);
2. every student enrolled takes the same exam (these are called "departmental exams" and they are evil);
3. forcing me to speak at length about topics that, while one instructor believes them to be necessary to understanding the overall theme of the course, I believe to be completely useless.

So, my "crazy" ideas about having relaxed conversations with students as opposed to doling out grades based on a student's ability to write meaningless gibberish for which I am forced to give them partial credit are generally thrown out the window. I get branded as a "weird teacher" by students and fellow faculty. I get asked questions like "how come you don't just do what Profs x, y and z do?" by both students and faculty.

I try to diplomatically tell them that I don't do that garbage because it's useless and outdated. In reality, I end up towing the line like everyone else. As much as students say they hate exams, they want exams, they want to turn in homework, and especially in low-level mathematics courses, they never ever never not ever want to see something new. Low-level math* must be the only subject where you would actually take a class on things you've seen before and get mad when you haven't ever discussed the topic at hand.

For those of you who like the idea of these 30-minute conversations, please come and be my students. Please. =)

*When I say "low-level", I mean things that universities in the U.S. generously call "college algebra" and below.
posted by King Bee at 10:24 AM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


since it's basically impossible for a college freshman to "trick" me into thinking he knows what the Riemann integral is.

I guess I would expect that a test on calculus would be better done by asking students to derive results on paper (or on the blackboard, but this mixes in performance anxiety/stage fright with knowledge, so seems a less valid method).
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:47 AM on September 13, 2010


I once had a professor who boldly stated "math is memorization." He pointed at people and kept repeating it; the students nodded in acquiescence. When he got to me, I disagreed with him and he said that I would figure it out when I was his age. Later that evening, I sent him this email:

I was thinking about your assertion that "math is memorization" and I've decided that you must have been joking.

You are obviously passionate about mathematics, and you even talked about being captivated by mathematics during your other courses. Was it for love of memorization? If so, why not memorize ancient greek vocabulary or phone books or probability distribution tables?

To suggest that mathematics is memorization is to take all the joy out of it. Isn't this the problem with mathematics instruction in elementary schools? Students with an imagination stretching no farther than the next examination — "what do I need to memorize?" — blundering, year after year, unmotivated, in a pointless exercise to commit to memory a few equations, relationships: whatever is necessary to make the grade.

Mathematics is not memorization; mathematics is exploration and discovery. It is whatever unchanging structure of the universe that can be ascertained by thought alone (unlike science, which relies on physical experiments or morality, which relies on emotional experience.) It is as if humanity were endowed with a treasure that can be unearthed using only mental activity — a vast treasure, like a buried city — this is mathematics.

I can still remember the best ellipsis I ever saw in print, with the most unexpected ending to a sentence, halfway through the third chapter. The writer having explained the protagonist's literary heritage, and having never mentioned anything scientific at all, presents this gem:
When she was rid of the pretense of paper and pen, phrase-making and biography, she turned her attention in a more legitimate direction, though, strangely enough, she would rather have confessed her wildest dreams of hurricane and prairie than the fact that, upstairs, alone in her room, she rose early in the morning or sat up late at night to... work at mathematics.
It wouldn't have quite the same feeling as "sat up late at night to... memorize equations"?

Anyway, I assume you said that to get a reaction. I hate falling for it, but I thought I'd reply just in case you were serious.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 11:48 AM on September 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


> Studying is a ridiculous and useless skill, and it's a travesty that schools still insist on clinging to educational
> structures that require students to train themselves to do something so wholly pointless and unnecessary. No one has
> ever used the habits learned in 'studying' in later life; and being able to 'study' isn't in any way an actual education to
> thoughtfulness, rationality, or open-mindedness.

That's kind of jaw-dropping, k. If I haven't studied since I got out of school, what are all these thirty pounds of highlighted and scribbled-up printouts about html5 and css3 and jquery? What are all these ring binders full of tutorials about photoshop and corel painter and sketchup I've accumulated over the last couple of years, and the many megabytes of practice graphics I've done? What about all the enormous PDFs I've read (and somehow understood and retained) about installing and using and troubleshooting and the various medical information systems I'm expected to run? And the many, many documents and how-tos about VMware, that those systems run on?

I can tell you that, whatever it is I'm doing now about those recent subjects, it's the same as what I did in college when the subjects were calculus and biochemistry and French and Carolingian history, so that must not have been studying either. I wonder what it was!
posted by jfuller at 12:46 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


> 1. everyone uses the same book (not taking into account how useless the text may actually be depending on the instructor's method);

Been there, had that problem. I dealt with it by learning the material both ways.
posted by jfuller at 12:49 PM on September 13, 2010


> Studying is a ridiculous and useless skill, and it's a travesty that schools still insist on clinging to educational
> structures that require students to train themselves to do something so wholly pointless and unnecessary. No one has
> ever used the habits learned in 'studying' in later life; and being able to 'study' isn't in any way an actual education to
> thoughtfulness, rationality, or open-mindedness.


I use those skills every day.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:57 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Been there, had that problem. I dealt with it by learning the material both ways.

Actually I should say I learned the material all three ways. The instructor's way, the book's way, and my way.
posted by jfuller at 1:02 PM on September 13, 2010


Ah, "learning styles". That was always the logic behind K-12 teachers assigning us those stupid poster/diorama projects--some students are "visual learners". How great it would be if these studies put a stop to all that.

As a teacher I definitely noticed differences in learning styles, and tried to adjust my teaching accordingly. FWIW, it worked.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:10 PM on September 13, 2010


Mathematics is not memorization; mathematics is exploration and discovery.

Math is the opposite of memorization. Start a very few self-evident principles (axioms) and proceed using only the power of logic to derive ever more complex and elegant findings that can do anything from microcircuitry to sending satellite to Mars and beyond. Sure, you have to remember those principles and how to do logic. Everything else flows. I never memorized formulae; you've only learned math when you can derive the results you need. Oh, you were talking about computation. Never mind.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:45 PM on September 13, 2010


I can tell you that, whatever it is I'm doing now about those recent subjects, it's the same as what I did in college when the subjects were calculus and biochemistry and French and Carolingian history, so that must not have been studying either. I wonder what it was!

Uh, with the Google we don't need to read anymore.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:54 PM on September 13, 2010


It seems like education suffers from a number of fads that don't always get the rigorous testing they deserve.

I know there are a bunch of charter schools trying new teaching approaches, but do any divide their student population in half, some acting as a control group? Are there any rigorous "experimental" schools out there?
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 3:21 PM on September 13, 2010


So, esprit, did the math prof reply?
posted by achmorrison at 3:31 PM on September 13, 2010


If you study high, you have to take the test high.

Which is what I posted about when I expanded on this article for my new gig as mental health blogger at TIME.com, here ;-)
posted by Maias at 4:11 PM on September 13, 2010


I imagine things, even non-mechanical things, mechanically.

Same here. I refer to it as kinesthetic thinking. I work with scientists, and it seems a lot of them think the same way. It's a sort of meld of muscle sense and visualization that then needs to be translated into words (not always easy) to be communicated.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 5:04 PM on September 13, 2010


> once had a professor who boldly stated "math is memorization."
Math is the opposite of memorization. Start a very few self-evident principles (axioms) and proceed using only the power of logic to derive ever more complex and elegant findings

I have no comment about what "math is", and I don't really think a student should be worrying about it either. In terms of what you should have been doing as a student in a math class, though, I don't think memorizing is a bad idea.

My most effective studying method for math was to memorize all the proofs and/or formula derivations in the chapter, until I could write them down from memory, in pen (important!), without mistakes. Not just sort of vomiting up the symbols, but memorizing the ideas like a story, and how to translate them back and forth to the symbols. I started doing it as a test-cramming strategy for a hard class (analysis of reals taken as an undergrad) with a stickler prof, but then when I started doing it before even doing the exercises, it was a night and day kind of change.

This is contra my default study "strategy", which was to pay attention in class, tra la la, easier with a good prof, but not actually start to learn until it was time to do that first thing I had to turn in for points. Some people might recognize this strategy. You know: problems are due tomorrow (or later today), so you crack the book, write your name on the paper, then that 1), and now you actually have to learn something. So you flip back and forth, and try to jam things together, and never really do any more work than what's required to answer a problem. It can get you a grade, and you pat yourself on the back and feel like a puzzle solving badass, but is it a good way to learn?

But by memorizing first, when it came time to do the exercises there was no flipping around in the book because everything I needed to know was already in my head. There were still challenges and opportunities to synthesize and solve puzzles, but then it was with ideas that I already owned.
posted by fleacircus at 5:59 PM on September 13, 2010


Anecdotal evidence #443 I once had an utterly ball breaking class my senior year as an undergrad in modern Japanese phenomenology, about as esoteric as it gets. The prof selected the students: two philosophy majors, one performance major (violin) two athletes, a computer science major and a polysci major. Our grades were 25% class participation, 25% term paper and 50% final paper. Four hour seminar once a week. He also gave us the best writing advice I've ever heard: just start writing the day you get the assignment and worry not about whether you're writing shit or something good; they'll be time to sort that out later. And he tirelessly treated any student who wanted to two, three, four, five six revisions of the two papers all throughout the term.

it was the only A+ I ever earned in college. The reading was brutal (as there is a strong link between German phenonomonlogy and Japanese, and I had NO handle on that). Sure, we had to read a lot, but the emphasis was on drawing from our own experience, mostly in class and in consultation with him over our papers, to figure out what it meant to us and how it could change our perception of, well our perception.

Also, we had the coolest final paper topic ever, which was something (more politically correct than) "OK, you white people who speak no Japanese: why the fuck do you think it's even possible for you to understand anything you've learned this semester?

/end possibly irrelevant anecdote and thanks for the indulgence.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:01 PM on September 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, esprit, did the math prof reply?

Yeah, he replied very positively and asked me about my aspirations.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 7:10 PM on September 13, 2010


> Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits

I saw a commercial on late night TV. It said "Forget everything you know about slipcovers." So I did. Then the commercial tried to sell me slipcovers, and I didn't know what the hell they were. --Mitch Hedberg
posted by jfuller at 3:23 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


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