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When I Teach..

(This post is not for each one of my classmates. But if you think I am talking about you, then.. what can I say? I just hope this will help even a bit)

During my whole first year in UKM, I have a bit of advantages (a lot actually) in study since I have taken most of the subjects back in the States (especially the Math subjects, but the highest that I ever got was AB, and most are below B). I perceive this as a responsibility for me to help those who need extra helps in understanding the syllabus, so I offered my help and invited my classmates to do study group from time to time.

To most of my friends, I either teach too fast, too simple, or too advanced. Of course, I didn't mean to make it hard for everyone to understand. Quite the opposite actually: I want everyone to understand it in a simpler form since I feel that everyone just think about it too hard, and that makes it more difficult to understand. Why complicate things when it is actually simpler than we thought it is?

But it is not easy to make things easier to understand. In my case, I just believe that the things we learn are easy, and maybe that's why it is easier for me to digest. Absorbing the materials aren't that hard, I will just memorize it and will wait for the questions that will apply that knowledge (so that we know how to use what we have learned). Understanding the materials is one thing, and applying it is a different story. One more thing that I believe is that the problems or exercises will never ask anything outside of what we learned. Usually, what makes them hard is how the problems had this little 'twist' to make us think further. But it is always based on what we learned, especially if the questions are provided by our lecturers.

So far, this mindset of mine proves to be true. Even in exams, they won't ask us about what we don't already know. It is just the 'twist' that always gets us every time.

So what is the problem when I teach?

Even if it is easy for me, it is not for some of my friends. We have different way of understanding things, and everyone has their own paces (there are also many things that I don't quite get it during the first time, but my friends can absorb it as soon as they see it).

When I'm teaching, especially when there are more than three people, I tend to simplify things so that I won't take up much time. What I expect is that when someone don't understand, they will ask me, and I will gladly repeat it. This is where the problem starts. I understand, some people are shy and some people just don't want to let others know that they don't understand it, in fear that everyone else already got it. So they just keep quiet, and when I asked whether they understand or not, most will just say yes and nod.

Perhaps starting next sem, I should be more clear with this. I tend to go through everything (especially in revision), and try to explain it in the simplest way possible. But what I need to realize, is that the shortest way is not always the fastest way to reach the destination. I should take a longer route: explaining bit by bit, slowly, and attentively. We may take it longer but I'm sure it won't be as complicated as taking the shorter route. I will try my best in order to suit my teaching style with your pace of learning.

I do have some things that I hope my classmates will and should do too.

First, if you know you are weak on a certain subject, then find some time to either do a bit of revision, study group or ask lecturer. Just please, and please, don't delay it until a few days before exams and ask someone to teach you EVERYTHING in just one night before exams. Get used to the way of university, please?

Secondly, if you don't understand a thing I just taught you, just let me know on the spot. Don't say it like months after that. I don't want to overestimate (that will make me teach too fast) neither do I want to underestimate (that will make you feel that I'm treating you like a clueless idiot). Just tell me how you want to do it, and I'll change my pace accordingly.

I know, I don't have the obligation to teach everyone, and everyone has their own way of studying. So I respect that. I will never force you to use my way of studying or force you to seek help from me. But I will gladly help those who ask me to help, as I don't want to be the only one to excel. Let us all improve together.

I think that's all. So, I'm sorry if the way I gave guidance is not good enough to make you understand, or if you feel that I am not helping much. Thanks to those who seek help from me, because it's the best way for me to do revisions. It keeps me motivated to always excel in studying and never lose faith. I'll try my best to improve, and I hope you'll do the same thing.


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