What have you been contributing to class lately? Often we think of the classroom as a place of passive learning. We view “good” students as the ones who sit quietly and take notes. Certainly there is nothing wrong with taking organized notes and paying close attention to the words of your teacher. But is that the method that will produce the best results for you? Consider the following study that considered how well students retain information presented in different ways:
Passivity might keep you under the radar in class, but it is not the sign of being a great student. Action is required for you to learn at your highest potential. Revolutionary educator Paulo Freire once stated, “No one educates anyone else nor do we educate ourselves, we educate one another in communion in the context of living in this world.” In other words, we don’t learn by silently taking in a lesson, but by actively joining in the community of learners by contributing and valuing the contributions of others.
Your classroom is your community. What do you bring to that community? Do you make connections between lessons in the classroom and your life experiences? Do you share the way you understand materials with others? How often do you participate in class discussions? Do you simply belt out memorized answers, or do you take it a step further and ask follow-up questions?
Passive learning limits your potential to whatever your teacher decides to teach and how well you can memorize that information. Active learning has unlimited potential because it encourages you to question, explore, and understand at the highest levels.
If you feel unmotivated and apathetic towards classes, take steps toward becoming a more active student. Bring your personality and your experiences into class. Engage in your community and learn together. Participate in every discussion, even to ask questions and further spark your curiosity. Help your classmates and graciously accept any help they give you. Take control of your learning; don’t let it control you.