No matter what level of education you’re pursuing – whether you’re in high school, college, graduate school or continuing education – you’re making an important investment into your future. Nothing is more valuable than expanding your potential to think, create, evaluate, analyze, change and act. Your education is the key to unlocking that potential, but there are many challenges that can potentially keep you from getting the most out of that opportunity. Sometimes the challenges are outside of your control – perhaps it’s the instructor, textbook, or the format of the class that makes it difficult to really take hold of the material. But whatever the challenge, there are two ways to get the most out of your education and overcome the challenges that would keep you from seizing the opportunity to learn.
One way to get the most out of your education is to view and treat the instructor as a valuable resource that you can tap. As students, it’s natural to view the instructor as the source of information. Often, the instructor plays the role of disseminating information, either through lecture, discussions or by preparing and presenting information through other formats. In the classroom, instructors play an important, if not the most important role of teaching and guiding the educational process. However, the benefits of instructors don’t just end there. That’s where they begin. Instructors can and should be tapped outside of the classroom to reap the greatest dividend. That’s where education can go beyond the artificial boundaries of the classroom and real dialogue and exploration can take place. Socrates believed that wisdom was found through dialogue. Classrooms and lectures can stifle that free dialogue with instructors, but at office hours or places outside the classroom, instructors are free from those artificial confines and can expound and elaborate on the lessons taught in class. It’s a great way to go deeper and add to the classroom experience.
Another way to get the most out of your education is to view and treat your fellow students as valuable resources as well. You may find that having class discussions and group projects are becoming more and more the norm of modern pedagogy, but the emergence of Web 2.0 has truly transformed the way people are learning. In this day and age, the internet has become a tremendous resource that can enhance education in the classroom. The internet also allows for the easy transfer of information that isn’t deterred by location, time, space and physical presence. When you connect with your classmates online through e-mail, chatrooms, IM, forums or social networking sites, getting their thoughts on the class and notes is an important educational experience. You can learn a lot from other perspectives and even how other students learn and study. You might even be able to take away some good tips and habits that your classmates are employing.
It doesn’t matter if the instructor is boring or isn’t particularly skilled at teaching because your education isn’t dependent on others. These kinds of external factors may provide some obstacles or challenges, but they can’t determine whether or not you will learn and get the most out of your education. But by pursuing your instructor outside of the classroom and by connecting with classmates online or in-person, you’re opening up more avenues and possibilities for learning. And by creating more pathways, you’ll be on your way to get the most out of your educational experience.
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