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There is No Secret (Really?)

Who does not know Kung Fu Panda? Po, the panda, has become everybody’s idol. What I have learnt from Kung Fu Panda is — There is no secret (to success).

Singapore students should have received their SA1 results by now. A student of mine said she is number 3 in class. I am happy for her. After a while, she said it has regressed, she was number 1 in class last year. I told her that learning become harder every year, so she should work harder.

After I went home, I thought about what I have said. Maybe I should not ask her to work harder. She is a brilliant primary student; I believe she has worked hard. I should have told her not to take the number in class too seriously. No wonder foreigners think that studying in Singapore is very tension, very pressure and very demanding!

joyfulyue.wordpress.com_Kung Fu Panda

Tai Lung, the villain, was a natural kung fu fighter. But he was not satisfied, he wanted to become the best and was looking for the Dragon scroll that was believed to have the secret to the best kung fu skill ever. So, deaths, injuries and destruction happened just because of one scroll. After all the fighting, Tai Lung found out that the scroll was empty! You can imagine how disappointed he was.

Yes, there is no secret to success. Things become special because people believe them to be special. Number 1 is thought to be the best you can get, but can you have number 1 in everything? in your entire life? If you have done your best, do not feel sad by “number 3”, you should be happy you are not number 4, or whatever number behind. I was number 1 in P1 and number 2 in P2. Guess what? My family members and friends thought that I would get number 3 in P3. I did not really care, just continued studying as usual, and I was number 2 in P3. If I were affected by what others have said, maybe it would become worse, because I was too tensed up to focus on study.

Anyway, when I went to secondary and tertiary, I dropped to whatever number behind, which I could not remember, because more people were joining in the competition, even foreigners.

So, my dear little darling, I still hope that you will continue your hard work, but do not pressurize yourself with numbers. It is just a number after all.

Study Hard vs Study Smart

Every student wants to score high marks in his / her exam and parents also want their children to be the top (of the class, of the school, or of the world, you name it).

So, the poor student starts studying hard, from day to night, 24/7. For Primary level, you can study as hard as you can, because there are only three to five subjects that you need to focus on. When you move on to Secondary level, you have more subjects to study and study hard will drain your energy and time. If you find yourself still not catching up with school lessons even though you have studied long, hard hours, it is time to change your study style.

I was not a smart student; my study style was to study as hard as I could and to do as many assessments as I could. Nonetheless, I found a few things that help me through my school years:

  1. Repetition (aka Revision) — Some students are so busy that they skip the revision part. If you are like me, you cannot remember things after you have seen them for the first time, then repetition will help you to remember. After school, spend some time going through the lessons that the teachers have taught in school. You learn day-by-day, so revising every day will not take up much of your time. On weekends, revise the lessons for the whole week. Go through your notes (see Point 2 below) and see if you can understand and remember the main points. The next revision is when you have learnt a chapter or a topic, it is when you can link all the points together and form a full picture of what you have learnt.
  2. Make your own notes — While you are doing your revision for the first time, write down the notes. Keep them short and simple, you may add in some details when you are revising for the second or third time.
  3. Make use of “short” time available — While you are waiting for the bus or MRT, read your notes that you have made (see Point 2 above). I cannot read on moving vehicles. What I do is, I read while waiting and try to remember what I have read when I am on the bus or MRT. If you are tired, you can make use of the travelling time to take a short rest, let your brain daydream or have a short gaming session.
  4. Understand — If you understand, you will remember the facts and details faster, reducing your revision time. Thus, if you do not understand what the teacher has taught, check with your classmates or ask your teacher as soon as possible. Do not wait. If you wait, you will tend to have more things to study and you will eventually ignoring those that you cannot understand.

After I have graduated from university, reading becomes a hobby rather than a task. So, I start to study “smart”. I read quickly and skipping some minor sub-topics sometimes. I still continue doing the four steps above for things that I find important or worth memorizing. I hope they will help you too and become good habits into your adult life.