College Dux: “once you learn how to learn, you can learn how to do anything you want to do”21/02/2020
I know what you want me to tell you. You probably want to know how I won the chess competition. Or maybe how I got a song from a video game into Graduation Mass. Or maybe you want to know how I managed to run a successful Dungeons and Dragon campaign. Well, I’ll tell you how I did those things, and, as an added bonus, I’ll also tell you how I managed to become Dux.
While these things seem separate at first, they all require you to learn “stuff”. And that’s what school is about, and what you should be getting out of it. I’m not talking about learning the course for all of your subjects, though that is important and you should most definitely do it, what I’m saying is that the most important skill you get out of school is the ability to learn. Because once you learn how to learn, you can learn how to do anything you want to do, so then maybe you can get good enough at chess to win the championship.
And once you realise that the most important part of school is learning how to learn, you might ask “How can I do that?”. Well, one of the best ways is to learn to be interested in things, and a great way to do this is to connect what you’re learning to a passion of yours. For example, I’ve tried learning to program a couple of times, but never got very far, even when I did it at school. However, last Tuesday, I wanted to create a program for a roleplaying game I’m making. In just these few days my programming skills have drastically improved. The reason I never really learnt to program was not because it was too hard or the courses I was trying to do were bad, but rather I just wasn’t interested.
Another good way to become interested in something is to learn more information surrounding it, even if it is not directly related to the thing you want to learn. Say if your learning physics at school and are finding it a bit boring, you could try looking up science articles on recent breakthroughs in physics, for example there is evidence that there might be a fifth fundamental force in our universe. Learning this kind of information will not directly help you learn the topic you are finding a bit dull, but it will hopefully help you get more excited about the subject in general, and by extension help you enjoy the current topic a bit more.
Youtube is full of videos that help do both of these, and is a good source for trying to get interested in different topics.
While being interested in things is helpful, and makes your life easier, it is important to remember that learning will not always necessarily be fun or interesting, and you will have to sit down and work hard, even if it’s not fun. This is an important skill in and of itself, and the earlier in your schooling you start doing it, the better. And this is where I would like to thanks all of my teachers for really helping me to be interested and curious about stuff and supporting me, but most importantly for helping actually do the work I needed to do. Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the score I got.
Finally, you can learn how to learn by just learning as many skills as you can. For example, throughout my schooling I learnt how to play a variety of musical instruments including: guitar, bass, drums, piano, how to play chess including many variants where the pieces start in different positions, how to play dungeons and dragons, how to speak very basic welsh, I was part of the debating team and was part of the stage band. I say this not to brag, but to point out that doing all these things didn’t stop me from doing as well as I wanted in Year 12, and in fact learning them meant I was better at learning, so I was in a better position to learn what I needed for my subjects.
Throughout your schooling and your life, you should always try to be interested in everything you do, and if you have an opportunity to learn something, do it.
Samuel Angove, Catherine McAuley College Dux 2019