News & Events

2022 College Dux Address at the 2023 Laureate Assembly


“Get comfortable being uncomfortable”

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Jaara People, the traditional custodians of the land on which we are meeting today. I’d also like to pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

It’s my honour and pleasure to speak with you all today.

Firstly, I want to thank the staff at CMC. The help and support I received throughout my education was not only massive for my academic success, but also my personal development. Teachers are some of the best role models and mentors available to you, so building a relationship with them is a fantastic way to find academic and personal guidance throughout secondary school.

I also highly recommend you build strong relationships with your peers. Finding friends with similar academic goals provides a great opportunity for you to work together, keep each other motivated and help each other learn. Some of the best learning in the brain happens when you explain a difficult concept to a friend who might be stuck. It’s also a great opportunity for you to find, develop and maintain lifelong friendships.

Now, what you’ve probably all heard before is to “get outside your comfort zone”. But I think this applies in more ways than just taking a class you otherwise wouldn’t or trying out for the production – both of which you should do, though. While difficult at times, fighting through the feeling of being uncomfortable is one of the best things you can do for your learning.

You might have had that feeling where you’re solving a problem in class and you get stuck. You feel uneasy and want to give up and move on or ask for help. While this feeling is unpleasant, I encourage you to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Sitting on a problem you’re stuck on, (whether it be a maths problem or completely unrelated to school), gives you the chance to explore methods of problem-solving more deeply. You might work on implementing strategies which you already know about, or you might learn about and try different problem-solving techniques. Either way, you will be able to work on some aspects of problem-solving that might help lead you to the solution.

But what if you get stuck for a prolonged amount of time? Take a break and come back. If you are lucky enough to be taught by Mrs Angove, you will be quick to learn that, while taking a break, the subconscious brain works on unresolved problems in the background. So, a break enables you to make progress on the question for when you return to it; as well as giving your conscious brain a chance to rest. In fact, some psychologists think the subconscious mind can more effectively solve problems than our conscious mind.

When you do solve the problem, you will discover some of the major benefits of pushing through that feeling of being uncomfortable. You will find it easier to remember and apply the method you used to solve other questions you come across. More importantly, though, the work you did on your problem-solving techniques will help you to become a better problem solver, enabling you to solve other, more difficult and complex problems in future. This is something I did a lot in secondary school.

Getting used to being uncomfortable, so I could improve at problem-solving, is just an application of the most effective thing I did to help me succeed in Year 12. And that was getting used to being uncomfortable so I could become a better learner and learn better in my classes.

In terms of improving at learning, I spent a lot of time learning the different ways I liked to learn things. I figured out that for maths it was best for me to spend time doing practice questions, in the same way, being uncomfortable meant I could more effectively improve my problem-solving.

I also experimented with where and when I learnt best – such as at home or in the library, or in the mornings or afternoons. I spent my free time learning a variety of other things, such as how to play guitar, use music synthesisers and how to code. The reason doing all this stuff helped me improve at learning is because every time you learn something new and experiment with how you like to learn, you become a better learner.

Having the goal to improving at learning isn’t just beneficial for those of you who are chasing a high ATAR like I was, it’s beneficial for all of you; because no matter what you choose to do or what goals you want to achieve, you will always have to learn things.

However, becoming a better learner – whether it be by learning something, or learning how to learn something – isn’t always easy. It can be uncomfortable, particularly when learning something new. I found this especially apparent when I had to learn things I didn’t really want to. English was never my favourite subject. I found it hard to do as well in it as I was doing in my other subjects. The reason I found English so hard was because I hadn’t spent enough time figuring out how I liked to learn it.

I knew going into Year 12 that English was going to be the most important subject for my ATAR. So, throughout the year, I dedicated a lot of time to learning English and becoming a better English learner. This took a lot of effort and I often got stuck or lost, especially at the start of each unit of study, which led to me feeling pretty uncomfortable at times. This is the hardest part of becoming a better learner – you have to push through the feeling of being uncomfortable. If you can do this, though, you will find great benefits to your ability to improve as a learner – as I did in my ability to improve as an English learner.

I ended up achieving an English score which I am very proud of. I’m proud not just because of the study score, but because I was able to get past the feeling of being uncomfortable and learn how I liked to learn something I wasn’t very good at.

The science communicator Derek Muller said, “If you really want to learn and get better at anything, have any chance of becoming an expert, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable”. So, I encourage you to get comfortable being uncomfortable whenever you want or have to, get better at learning.

I would like to finish by wishing you all the best for your future studies, and beyond.

Thank you,
Lochlan Tresize