What it Means to be a Student

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    William C. Michael

    The rule of learning, which wise men taught in the past, is that we seek to learn about things in this world by studying what is true of most or all of them, and then leaving the study of individual differences to the end, because they are infinite.  This is why, when we learn about words, we learn the characteristics of the parts of speech, rather than individual words.  However, when the time comes, we do focus on individual words whose meaning, in different places, is important.

    As a teacher, I prepare lessons that I believe will be clear and helpful for most students. That’s all I can possibly do when making lessons for students all over the world, who are very different.  I publish the lessons, and then work with individual students to master them.

    It is the student’s job to ask questions.  The word “student” means “one who is seeking”, and if you’re seeking to master your lessons, you will usually need to ask questions.  When something isn’t clear, or an assessment question is difficult to answer, it is the student’s job to contact the teacher and ask for individual help.  This is not “cheating” or a sign that you’re not “smart”.  This is normal study–and it’s a sign that you’re actually doing your job as a student.

    In the Gospels, Mary and Joseph lost Jesus while traveling.  They searched the city and found him, in the temple, where he was studying with the elders there.  How was he learning?

    “They found (the child) Jesus in the temple, sitting in the midst of the scholars, listening to them, and asking them questions.”  (Luke 2:46)

    Jesus was a student.

    A bad student is one who is always looking for excuses, who wants to quit and isn’t “seeking” mastery.  When a bad student doesn’t understand something, he starts complaining saying things like, “This lesson is stupid.” or “I am not good at this subject.”  Bad students are content with low grades, so long as they can make excuses for those grades–even when they’re allowed to continue studying and raise those grades!  Another thing bad students do is leave questions on assignments blank that they can’t easily answer.  When I see this, I mark the assignment with a “0” and return it because the student is not doing his job.  All the student needs to do, if he wants to master his lesson, is ask his teacher for help–and that’s what good students do.

    You don’t need to worry about “bothering” me because, if you do, I will tell you.  If you ask me questions that I believe can be answered by you doing a little more work, I will say so.  Communicating with me is a good way for you to know that you’re doing well and studying rightly.  It’s also a good way for you to show me that you’re doing so.

    Therefore, make sure you understand that communicating with me, and your fellow students, is part of the studying process.  If you don’t understand something, ask for help.  As a teacher, I can usually tell pretty quickly what’s causing your trouble, and will help you.  Sometimes, your fellow students may understand something you don’t, and you may understand some things they don’t, and you can help one another. Again, this is not “cheating”, this is studying.

    The best place to ask questions is on the CLAA Forum–that’s what it’s for!

    God bless your studies,

    William C. Michael

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