Ridiculous vs. Training
The two most ridiculous statements ever made in a skill-building class are often said on the first day: “Right now, everybody has an A. Whether or not you keep it is up to you.” Those statements put students in a clutching mode, grasping at something they can’t even see. If your teacher has said that, he or she does not have a training mindset.
You have to train. You have a goal. But “I want an A” is not a goal you can reach if you don’t know what it looks like to pass by F, D, C, and B. So take a look:
- F students work hard at not doing.
- D students barely do the work assigned in class.
- C students complete work in class if there’s time.
- F students work against remembering what’s covered in class.
- D students don’t copy notes carefully from the board.
- C students make careful notes, but tend not to look at them again until right before an exam.
- F students only participate if they absolutely must, and then it’s usually taken as an opportunity to make fun of themselves, others, or the subject.
- D students don’t volunteer to participate, but they are less obnoxious when they do.
- C students may volunteer to participate, but only because they think it’ll help their grade. They don’t actually care about the content.
- C students barely keep up with the vocabulary throughout a chapter, and don’t retain many words beyond three chapters. In order to keep a C on a midterm or a final exam, they have to do a lot of vocabulary review.
- B students learn the majority of the vocabulary list for a chapter, and usually permanently retain a dozen words. Some review is needed for an exam, but not much.
- A students learn, retain, and use all the vocabulary.
- C students try using the verb tense being studied, but don’t master it.
- B students get close to mastering the spelling of a tense.
- A students master how to spell a tense, and are concerned with what it means.
Notice that it’s not a question of whether or not A or B students do the work, take notes, or participate in class. The difference between B and C students is a commitment to attempting to master vocabulary and verb use. And the difference between B and A students is the attempt at true mastery of vocabulary, verbs, and the finer points of grammar.
- C students try anything to pass.
- B students enjoy themselves and the class, and reach for mastery.
- A students grapple for mastery. Some actually attain it.
Let’s assume you’re at the C level.
How do I get out?
Do what B-level students do.
• Enjoy yourself and the class.
• Reach for apparent mastery.
• Improve your verb use, your spelling, and your ability to retain vocabulary.
But I want an A.
Right. But you can’t jump from C to A. You have to go past B along the way.