Each student entering school is unique as a learner. Some have no issues, learning effortlessly anything they find interesting. Most have some difficulty either in reading or mathematics, which are primary areas for further education. A few are slow learners having difficulty in whatever area they tackle.
These beginning learner tendencies and abilities will often be altered with time and experience. The slow learners can have difficulty throughout their educational process especially if they develop a defeatist attitude. The child having difficulty learns to play helpless, “I can’t do it,” so other people can rush in to do it for him. He says he will never be as good as other students and prematurely throws in the towel.
Others gain confidence as the repetition of the work helps them to create a base of knowledge to build on. They may start slow with a disadvantage but they learn to push themselves to catch up.
Abraham Lincoln described himself as a slow learner but once he learned it, he never forgot it. These slow learners can become late bloomers if they continue to peck away. It helps if they have encouragement from loved ones and from significant teachers or peers who point out their gains. These tortoises can overcome the hares before the race is over.
These initial difficulties students encounter in the beginning of their formal education can be a blessing in disguise. These late bloomers have learned at an early age the most important lesson as a student. It is: As long as you persevere you will internalize whatever you want or need to learn.
The young “geniuses” or gifted students may start out and continue through many grades without effort. They may finally experience the importance of studying in higher grades or even college. Since it is the first time the student had to focus his mental energies to conquer a learning obstacle it is a difficult and humbling process. This challenge is far more embarrassing for a person to tackle and solve at such a late date.
Every student will eventually “hit a wall” they have to overcome. The later in life the obstacle appears the greater the shock. These early bloomers thought the journey through life would always be smooth sailing. Their high expectations for the ease of future learning were understandable although rather naive.
Depending on the character of some students that eventually hit a wall, instead of confronting the problem they pretend it does not exist. They make excuses but inwardly they are devastated by the experience. Some drop out of the class to avoid the embarrassment. Others attempt to prove to their peers they do not need the degree by turning to an alternate lifestyle where they try to establish their superiority by rejecting what everyone else seeks.
Some early bloomers do bounce back by attempting to prove to themselves they can learn the material. Like falling off a horse, they jump back on and do what they need to do to stay on. All students, late, early or steady learners have to want to be a quality student to become one. Once they learn that the key for learning uninteresting or difficult material is to analyze their own learning style and make disciplined use of it. They learn what works for them personally and they follow through with it. Lifelong learners have developed a strong desire to learn and the will to do it.
The gaining of knowledge does not end with formal education unless a person shuts down. Formal education is a launching point to continue in the search for knowledge.
Everyone has the power to either give up or continue to fight to learn. Perseverance is the key. Gaining knowledge takes effort. Of course people can pretend to be geniuses by self- promotion but they have an almost impossible time convincing themselves.
An authentic learner wants to learn not to impress others by being a show off. The motivation of a true learner comes from an intrinsic enjoyment of learning for the sake of learning the mysteries of life. The more a person learns the more he wants to learn. It becomes a positive addiction.
Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program in Spring Hill. Visit him at www.drmaglio.blogspot.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.