Optimism and its role in studying

by Wong Kin Leong

There is a direct correlation between the optimism in a student and the success in studying. Just like the answer to the glass is half full or half empty, this concept is very much a question about the outlook and confidence of the individual. The optimism of students to how well they fare in their studies cannot be quantified easily but like with everything, it is always a matter of perspective.

So what is it about optimism?

Optimistic individuals tends to see the light. The light at the end of the tunnel. This tunneling effect blocks out all the other distractions and pains that comes packaged into an examination. This is akin to a 100m race and its training requirements. An athlete competing for a 100m race hits the gym, trains on the same 100m strip for years, only to feature in a race that lasts less than 10 seconds. Yes, other aspects of characteristics like determination, talent, etc is needed, but the optimist will definitely have an edge over the one that is pessimistic in this, who would have given up long ago, unable to see why one would go through it at all. It is about aiming for the light at the end of the tunnel and knowing that everything else will fall into place that gives the athlete a spring in their steps.

The same can be said for students who knows what they want. Aces in exams? Sure! Let’s go for it. Blocks out all the other distractions, and confidently knowing that it can be done.

How to keep a student optimistic?

Perspective. The ability to see it half full. Generally, the student that are optimistic tends to ask more questions and this is where teachers, tutors, and parents are required to be patient and explain without getting angry nor frustrated. How many students have tried asking but gave up the second time round knowing full well that their teachers will get angry if they didn’t get it the first time hands up! Yes, encourage students or your child to ask, and do not get angry if they don’t get it. Learning is heuristic in nature and requires students to gain the experience to attain mastery. If the student fails to experience it the first time round, it does not mean they are slow, it just means they are trying.

And trying is the best ingredient to success.

No one wants to be scolded. Especially if they are trying to learn something. And being scolded during their formative years are just sending out the wrong messages that will hinder their development.

In any learning environment, the basis of an education is the interaction between teachers and students. And the trust between students and teachers must be there to foster a strong bond in learning. The job of a student is to learn, and the job of a teacher is to teach. Failure to do this most basic requirement is usually the reason for an unsuccessful stint in school. A patient teacher who teaches properly but also encourages questions or repeats themselves to make sure their students gets it creates students who is unafraid to ask if they don’t get it. This creates a calm and trusting environment to study in.

With trust, confidence grows. With confidence, optimism grows.

written by 
Wong Kin Leong

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