(Haida Gwaii Observer/File photo)

FOREST INK: Learning through hard work

Columnist Jim Hilton writes about the different ways people learn

As I was working on an article about a career in forestry for those students thinking of their options following high school, I was reminded of my experience in preparing for university.

As well, I was also thinking of the value of students returning to class versus the ones that are homeschooled.

My daughter has been homeschooling my three grandsons up to now, with the oldest soon to become a teenager.

The importance of socializing is often brought up when I mention homeschooling.

It is important to note that many homeschooled children have a number of opportunities to participate in a variety of events and programs that include other classmates, and they are not isolated at home with their parent teacher.

For many, it may mean less time spent on a school bus, and I think they may also develop good study habits so they can finish their school work in order to go onto activities they enjoy better.

I am not going to debate public schools versus homeschool but rather share some of my misconceptions regarding my responsibilities versus the school system.

I am surprised it took me so long to figure out that homework was not my teacher’s attempt to make my home life miserable, but it was to teach me some good study habits on how to learn the subject matter.

READ MORE: Interior city working on forest diversity

In my generation, going to university was a way to have an occupation other that staying on the farm where I grew up, but my high school marks were not sufficient for entrance into college. After a couple of tries at school, my last resort was a private tutor to improve my results, but unfortunately, I was still relying too much on the teacher and not doing the required homework.

Fortunately, my older brother suggested a work book that he found useful. This book not only contained a good summary of physics principles but also many good examples, lots problems and many questions with answers. For the first time in my life, I kept reviewing the material until I was getting all of the right answers and was able to finally get one of the highest marks in any subject I had taken to that point.

That high mark not only got me into university but provided valuable insights into the many methods that each student must develop to learn the wide variety of material that I would encounter through the six-plus years of my university education.

The conclusion I came up with was that depending on the subject matter, I often needed a number of examples or ways of describing a new concept in order to master the material. I also learned that the more approaches you use the better, i.e. reading, listening to lectures or tapes, visual, hands-on demonstrations and lots and lots of repetition, especially with multiple choice exams.

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Making my own study notes also proved useful, which allowed me to quickly review prior to an exam, and also practice teaching the material has proven useful for some students.

Although I did not enjoy all my courses, I found my university time did allow me the opportunity to have a very interesting and productive career.

Some students may know very early on what they want to study, but for others, like me, I had to experience a variety of subjects before I found the ones that I enjoyed and did the best in.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.


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