How to Create Interest in Studies
Doing something that you don’t like to do is very taxing on your brain and body. The simplest advice anybody can give is, don’t do it and move on to something you like. However, this advice cannot apply to studies and subjects that are compulsory to be taken for certain exams you need to clear. So how to create interest in studies or subjects you dislike so that you can get through.
Why students lack interest in studies
Most of the time you have to remember stuff. Some subjects need understanding so you can solve sums and formulae.
Unfortunately, most students take interest only if they understand. Dr. Kahneman, author of ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ says in his book that when things look difficult and complicated human brains tend to shut off or find an easier alternative. Only if you are interested do you try to understand, else the brain looks for alternatives such as television and social media.
Usually interests are linked to passions and hobbies. If you like to do something you’ll do it and you’ll learn more about it. It is as simple as that. Here the challenge is learning better and being better at what you do.
How to create interest in Studies?
If you don’t fancy a subject or activity, the first question you should tackle is Why don’t you like it? Usually people answer with emotion. It is boring or I don’t like it. The answer has nothing to do with your feelings. It has to do with the difficulty level. Students pick and choose what is easy for them according to their understanding and other subjects simply become ‘boring’.
If you take the example of a video game or any game for that matter – if the game is difficult, but easy enough to master, children will take it up like a fish to water. Increase the difficulty to unmanageable levels and children will actually give up and “get bored” of the game. Also you’ll notice that the difficulty level in games actually increases gradually. In other words, people who design games do not throw you at the deep end of the pool from the start. They’ll allow you to get used to the controls and then increase your speed of reaction and then ease you into the difficult level.
So we could copy the gaming path to create interest in studies. Start with the simple level and once you understand the complexities of whatever you are learning it becomes easy for you to tackle the difficult levels. At this stage you’ll probably enjoy the subject you’ve been avoiding or were afraid of.
How to study a subject you don’t like
One of the main reasons of interest and disinterest is cognitive ease. Like I mentioned earlier Dr Daniel Kahneman explains in his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ that your brain doesn’t really like to dive deep into problems. For easy problems you find the answer immediately. A lot of the time this solution is called intuition or expertise. For difficult problems the brain switches to deeper thinking and brings back associative memories. For example 2 + 2 will be taken care of by a quick reaction, but for a multiplication problem like 74 X 15, you will have to start thinking.
How to study a subject you don’t understand
Dr Barbara Oakley, the author of, A mind for numbers, points out that most students avoid maths. Maybe because it needs understanding of concepts and putting them into use – and not just remembering them. Her advice is to force yourself to tackle the problem and step out of your comfort zone. For this you may start low like doing your most disliked subject or topic when you are most fresh. Doing it for half an hour per day and then increasing it to one hour and so on. Also doing or learning your disliked subject daily and consistently. She points out that when you see some people solving difficult math sums or quickly coming up with chess moves we believe they are naturals, but the fact is that they have been practicing for a long time.
Easing the Cognitive Load
Once you have decided to take interest. Force yourself to study. What you should do is not take the route that seems difficult. Find an easier route to understand your difficult subject and topics. Maybe some teacher’s explanation is easy to understand for other students. For you it is Greek. You should try other teachers’s explanations. Sometimes the blackboard system of teaching seems easy. But there are enough resources on the internet that explain the same topic with visual effects and practical demonstrations which may ease your understanding. In other words, today technology gives us enough options to learn subjects in many different ways.
Motivation and Goals
Once you’ve found the mantra you need to develop consistency just like Dr Oakley says. Being consistent is another ball game. Your motivation levels can vary everyday. The first thing you do is make a time table. Come hell or high water, you need to stick to this time table. Always remember your motives. Write them down on a big page and stick it in front of the table where you study. Once you follow these guidelines you’ll find it easy to create interest in studies.