Why Independent study is more important than attending class…
I’ve never been one of those students who are constantly followed up for their poor attendance, but by the time I reached my final year of college, I really did become one. The week after week there were phone calls home, meetings with my head of year and a whole load of negative sanctions. Of course, I understood the perspective of my teachers because the final year is definitely the most hardest. I was missing out on extra revision, important work and there was still lots of content needed to be taught. To be staying at home, well, what was I thinking? Did I even have time to do that? Would I end up regretting not being there? Interestingly, even though I thought this, I also found myself frequently questioning ‘Is missing class really that bad?’
‘Is missing class really that bad?’
I mean, you could say that if I had absolutely no reason to do so, then yes, it’s unwise, ridiculous and problematic. Why would I waste precious learning time to stay home? What was more important than my education? To tell you the truth, my education really was my priority and it was because of that, I decided to skip getting my attendance mark and stay at home instead. Growing older, particularly transitioning from a high school student to a college student, I began to realise that my learning only progressed independently. Study groups, extra classes and even the class itself, just wasn’t for me. I had to, in more simplistic terms, teach myself everything.
Being present in class & pretending to be interested
Being present in class, however, did have its perks. Laughs with my mates, wasting time by pretending to be interested in the teacher’s life and leaving the lesson with ‘I’ll finish this at home’ because my classwork was incomplete. It was fun most of the time. But on the more negative side, I learnt nothing. I was constantly being distracted and my focus never remained on my work. It was useless for my teachers to move me for being too chatty because I talked to anyone who was there, even if we weren’t particularly close. Even sitting alone was no use because I’d find myself not understanding what I had to do, or not having enough knowledge to complete the work given to me. Consequently, I found myself getting increasingly bored with being there. The class just wasn’t taken seriously. And my exams, revision and learning had to be.
Justifying my absence
So to justify my absence, I thought hard about what I needed. I wouldn’t have a teacher or classmates to ask for help. I wouldn’t get key concepts explained to me face to face by someone who understood. I wouldn’t be able to access the worksheets given in class or the delivered powerpoints. But, did I even need all that? My aim was to fully understand the subject content to the best of my own ability. I had my specification access online. I had my textbook explanations to guide me. I had practice papers available to try. I had many useful internet websites to teach me. Essentially, I had everything I needed. The rest was simply down to my self-discipline, my efforts and most importantly, a great deal of my hard work.
Not too many absences
Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t completely avoid school altogether. Most days I went to join in on practical work and get my mark just so I would make life easier for my teachers. I did realise that too many absences made it difficult for them too and I couldn’t be completely selfish. But it was at home where my learning took place. I made sure I had the subject specification broken into individual, easier topics and made them into a checklist. After learning a topic thoroughly, I was able to tick it off and move on. Retrieving this information was necessary so I would go back to previous topics and repeat any knowledge I knew out loud. The way I saw it: the only way I properly understood something was if I was able to say it out loud in a way that made sense. And using that as my goal for each subject, learning became much much easier.
Although many times I got the typical label of ‘skiver’, I can assure that I could never justify skipping class if this wasn’t my case. As a result of that, I want to be able to get through to other students who struggle with focusing in class and have a very short attention span just like myself. It’s hard sometimes when you sit in class and don’t have a clue what is going on, whilst everyone seems to know what they’re doing. But it’s important to realise that there’s always a solution to the difficulties you face and when you prioritise your learning, you’ll always find ways that work best for you. Don’t feel you have to conform to your friends all working together to revise because if you know it won’t benefit you, you really are wasting your time. Use your time wisely and remember, everyone, learns in different ways.