Becoming an Active rather than a Passive Student

How are you approaching your education?

How you answer that question could say a lot about how far and how high your structured, formal education will take you.

Are you in school just “to show up”? Is it more about the socialization or worse – the mandatory – nature of your education that keeps you attending?

Don’t be ashamed to admit that you’re less than enthusiastic about your education. As the 12-step programs out there will tell you, the first step to defeating a problem or obstacle in your life is being willing to ‘fess up to it.

So quit squirming in your seat, or wondering why your Mom and Dad left this article printed out on your bedroom desk. I’m not here to chastise you for being a passive student. I’m not here to blame you for it, or even – necessarily – to tell you that there’s something wrong with being a passive student.

I’m just here to tell you that you (yes, even you over there with drool already beginning to form at the corners of your mouth from the mere anticipation of the boredom you’re about to endure) absolutely CAN transform from the passive, unmotivated student to an active, dynamic member of your student body. You might not be able to do it overnight, and there’s a good chance that it won’t turn you into Class President, but it will turn you into someone who is involved with and in your education, not just someone resigned to “dealing with it” until graduation comes and goes…

1.”Taste-test” EVERYTHING! You might not be able to start sampling things right this minute, but try this at the beginning of the next school year… Request a calendar for all try-outs, sports, clubs, committees, organization, etc. that will be running on campus. If your teachers don’t have a copy, head over for a quick visit with your guidance counselor. Grab a highlighter and start going through the list. Look for sports that interest you. Look for clubs that are involved with things you feel passionate about. See what organizations can help you develop a career related focus when school’s over and “real life” begins. Look for things you know very little about, but are actually curious about finding out more information on. If you’ve gone through the list and still haven’t found any offerings that get you fired up, start making a list of organizations and clubs that WOULD and then share them with your counselor and see if perhaps one could be created.

2. Determine whether you’re an “active” or “reflective” learner. In this world, there are basically two kinds of students: students who learn through doing things, and students who learn by hearing or reading things. For a long time, just about all classes were built around the needs of reflective learners. Students that learn easily through reading, writing, lecturing and testing on subjects tend to do well in these situations. Unfortunately, students who are active learners can grow terribly stagnant in reflective learning environments. For these students, once more hands-on learning opportunities and real life projects and applications are introduced into the curriculum, their learning retention and grade point averages skyrocket. If you’ve been struggling through school, and are constantly plagued by the feeling that you’re “just not getting it”, it might be because you’re an active learner restricted by a reflective environment. Make it a point to meet with your teachers before or after class to discuss your frustration with the current curriculum and ask if there’s any way they might consider adding in more kinetic, or hands-on opportunities. You might just be surprised what happens…

3. Think about the “Big Picture.” Whether you like it or not, a huge investment of your time and effort are going to be spent on your primary and secondary education. Before you graduate, you’ll have spent a minimum of 13 years of your life in school. More importantly, what you do with those 13 years will determine how you spend the last 50, 60 or 70 years of your life. Since you’ve GOT to invest those 13 years anyway – whether you turn out to be a “success” or a “failure” in life – why not milk them for EVERYTHING they’re worth!? Your high school grades and extracurricular activities can spell full-ride scholarships to great schools. Those great schools can help land you the job of your dreams, or prepare you to fulfill another big dream – starting a company of your own. You’ve got goals for who you want to be, what you want to do, and where you want to go in life. Education (or the lack there of) will determine whether you reach those goals or not.

You’ll hear politicians and hot-heads out there talking about education being the government’s responsibility, or education being the parents’ or the teachers’ responsibility… However, in the end, the education you do or don’t get is YOUR responsibility! You are the only one who’ll live with the rewards or consequences.

Put your life on the fast track and start developing the qualities and characteristics of an active student. Don’t just let your education passively pass you by…