“Do we have to be able to draw a eukaryotic cell?”
“Oh god, I should’ve actually studied.”
This type of studying is similar to crash dieting. “Oh god, I’ve got a wedding this weekend I need to be five pounds lighter for so I can fit in my suit.” Initiate last minute starvation and dehydration. Once at the wedding, eat and drink all you can until you pass out in the car on the way home. Wake up no better off than you were the week before.
If we just imagine doing this every week of the year, the ups and downs would clearly represent an unhealthy approach to food and health. Yes, perhaps I can make my goal weight every weekend so I can reuse the same suit all year, but I’m likely to be more worn out and worse off by the end of year.
I don’t think this is much different from the studying the students above are demonstrating.
Crap, I have to consume this information so I look good on my test next period. Phew, now I can return to my junk food diet of YouTube and Instagram. Shoot, I have another test tomorrow. I’ll cram for an hour and reward myself with two hours of Call of Duty.
It might seem a little different because we expect information to be more permanently retained than the ice cream we had last night. We can always exercise the ice cream away, we can’t exercise the information away.
That isn’t very true though. Some information will stick permanently, but the vast majority of it won’t. Knowledge is physical. It can degenerate just as much as the rest of your body. Neurons that aren’t fired become weak.
More importantly, just like yo-yo crash dieting, it engenders the wrong attitude. When we see good, healthy food as depriving us of other food we like, we can’t focus on the fact that healthy food can actually taste really good and keep us feeling good with a more stable mood. Once we switch from viewing healthy food as a deprivation to viewing it as what gives us everything we want, it’s no longer dieting. It’s becomes the way we eat. Our diet, not a diet.
The same is true with learning new information. If we view learning as a state of deprivation, as taking away from time better spent doing other things, we have a difficult time seeing that we can view it as one of the most enjoyable activities. Learning new things isn’t a chore like eating celery, it’s invigorating - like eating celery! It’s fresh, tastes good, and leaves us feeling better off.
I had the exact same attitude towards school as these students. I understand the sentiment. I just hope they find some area that does hook them and keep them going, regardless of whether it’s in school or not. I found a love of learning through fiction reading outside of school and in some great university classes in undergraduate, but for 18 years, I was just like them.