The Last Word

By Nicholas Griffen | Posted: Monday August 28, 2017

Too often we focus on the content, and ignore the skills.

Miss, when are we actually going to use this stuff? When will I ever use algebra? Who actually speaks like Shakespeare anymore?

I like to think that the work we are doing at school now is like Kiwi Saver. There may not seem to be any initial benefit to what we are doing now, but it is important to remember that everything we do, will be crucial later in life; just like putting money away into a savings account. Every Math equation we do, and every Shakespeare play we read, is all contributing to your mental fitness. As we study algebra and old Shakespearean English, we are effectively learning new languages, processing information, and applying it practically. This is exactly what we need our brains to do in the future. We don't know what jobs are going to exist in even five years, or what skills we are going to need to learn, so having a brain that can learn new skills quickly, comprehend ideas, and remember information, sets us up to succeed in any field. So, just like with KiwiSaver, we might not know how much money we need, or what we are going to spend it on in the future, but making small and constant contributions into the bank, will give us greater opportunities in the future.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I would like to re-advocate for something I spoke about in my last… last word. The important thing you can be adding to the bank, is a better understanding of the English language and the best way to achieve it is through reading. I’ve never been a good reader, and until this year never bothered with books but after making a commitment to reading every night, I am already seeing the benefits. To add to my KiwiSaver metaphor,  your future self will thank you for making an effort with the English language now. English is the only thing we learn in a classroom which you will definitely need in life, no matter what you decide to do. You can avoid algebra and chemistry, but you can’t avoid reading, talking and writing which is why putting in a little effort now will make such a difference later down the track. As Reuben George said, “A year of study can make a lifetime of difference”.

Training your brain is like training for a marathon. Every run you do will make a little gain, and contribute towards the goal of completing the marathon. But not only this, the level of fitness you attain as you train for the marathon, will also greatly benefit your physical health, mental health, and improve your ability in any other sport you get involved in. One of the key differences is, it is much easier to measure improvement in our physical strength and fitness compared to the abilities of our brain. Small gains often go unnoticed, like the friend who puts on a little bit of weight over a long period of time. When you see them every day, you notice no change, but when you look back on a photo from a year before, the difference is obvious. Don't expect to notice how much smarter you are each week, but know that over time, the improvement is significant and inevitable.

Don’t look back on your time at school and regret not learning how to learn.