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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Study for yourself, not others - Ask our counsellor Q&A column

[The following column, written by me, appeared in the Deccan Herald Education supplement dt June 7, 2012]

Dear Madam,
I am currently in PUC I. I can’t concentrate on my studies for more than 40 minutes or so. I get distracted by hunger pangs, or I text my friends. Please help.

Dear Student,
I would like you to spend a few minutes thinking about why you feel you need to concentrate on your studies, or better still, why you are studying. We get distracted and lose interest in something when we feel there is no gain; when we believe it is something we have to do, for the benefit of someone else; when we would rather do something else which would benefit us more. So do you feel that you need to study for someone else’s benefit — your parents’, maybe? Or, do you think there is something in it to gain for yourself? What will your options, and life, be like if you do not study now? Think about these answers for yourself, and be honest. Think about what your life would be like if you did not have the opportunity to study. Right now it is seeming a burden to you. Believe me, the picture is not rosy. Do a reality check and accept that you need to do this, not for your parents or anybody else, but for yourself. Because effort is your only path to success. And once you have thought about it and have the answers, keep a snack by your side, leave your phone in another room, and go for it with all your gusto. Because you need to do it for yourself.

Dear Madam,
I’m a PUC I student. Can you give me a few tips on how to focus while studying, especially before an exam?

Dear Anonymous,
Lack of concentration near exams is a very common problem that seems to plague students and I have addressed this question in this column several times before. You could read the blog where the responses on the same topic are available. Hopefully, that will give you some direction in terms of technique. However, before you visit the site, I would like you to introspect on why you are studying and why you ‘need’ to concentrate. We feel bored and distracted when we are doing something that is of no interest to us, or we believe that it needs to be done as a favour for someone else, and we don’t gain anything from it. And, therefore, it is boring. We hide behind the belief that it is something we ‘need’ to do because of peer or parent expectations. Think of what your life would be if you didn’t do it, and acknowledge that there is a selfish reason to do it.

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