These questions, which express the frustration of countless students at all levels of education, are made complex by the wide range of possible learning styles and issues; yet there are “secrets” that can make any academic experience more productive, more successful. Here is one that may help:
In the classroom, the teacher is in charge of interpreting and organizing course content, in order to make the learning process more palatable for the greatest number in the class. A few able students will be highly motivated to absorb the important points of every lecture, although many will not. For this group, one valuable tip can be found in the teacher’s body language – physical behaviors exhibited repeatedly by the teacher just before, during, or just after making a very important point. (We are all creatures of habit.) For example, a teacher who lectures the class while sitting at a desk in front of the classroom might stand up four or five times in forty-five minutes to deliver a statement. Another might remove glasses and pause briefly each time a critically significant point is about to be made. Another might stop, take a deep breath, rearrange something on the desk, then deliver. More obviously, but equally revealing, a teacher might actually write a few words on the board to accompany any essential piece of data. Whatever form of body language the teacher uses to emphasize a fact that needs to be absorbed, two things are nearly certain:
1) The teacher will be likely to use the same non-verbal device every time an important point is about to be delivered; and
2) It is the job of every student to record that statement, with underlines, in the notes for that day’s class. Every underlined statement is likely to reappear later – on the final exam!
CARTER P. REESE
Director, Informed Educational Solutions