“Understanding is Fun!” by Harsha Ravindran (2016)

I was in class. I looked at the whiteboard and my teacher was in the front, explaining what we were learning that day. I didn’t understand. I looked at my friends on either side of me; I witness their equally bored, zoned out faces. I snapped one of them out of their blured state and into the boring reality of the class we were in. I asked her if she understood what was going on. She said nope and that she was equally confused as I was. 

I looked around at my classroom and looked at my other classmates, some not paying attention, some struggling to understand and others just plain bored out of their lives. A pang of guilt shot through me, I wasn’t paying attention either, I was busy coming up with these unnecessary observations. Oh god, is this how learning was like? 

No, it isn’t. Learning is actually really fun! I thought about my other classes, they were really incredibly fun! I learnt so much from them and never failed to have a great time! And it doesn’t just happen in school inside a classroom, but also everywhere else in our lives! Learning is subtly carried out in Nature; you wouldn’t know you’re learning until you’ve actually been putting it into practice for a while.

So back to my story, after class I talked to my friends. One of the things that my friends said was that she doesn’t really like it when teachers ask us to copy lots of notes, and it’s even worse when those teachers ask us to memorise those notes. She went on saying that she liked when our teachers taught us applicable things which we can use in real life. She also said that when she memorised stuff, it was just like stuffing it in her head and puking it out onto her test paper when the exams come near. We talked about how understanding what we learnt made it so much clearer and how when we actually understand what we are learning, we don’t really need to study or revise as much.

So as we talked over the things that worked and the things that didn’t when we were studying – we realised that we had a small problem. We didn’t understand some of the stuff that a couple of our teachers were saying. After brainstorming a couple of ideas, we decided that the best way for us to actually learn and get what’s going on in class is to actually study and read through it.

I know, it might sound pretty lame that our big, fancy solution was to go and study. But remember earlier when we talked about how easy it is for us to learn something once we can see how to apply it in our lives or when we thoroughly understand what it’s about. And don’t get us wrong, our kind of studying isn’t actually the conventional way of studying. When we study in a group, we actually take the effort to remain focused and understand what we wanted to learn in our own funny and comical way. 

So when we say ‘study’, we don’t actually mean opening up a textbook and reading the same lines until it gets imprinted into our brains. We make it fun, relatable and easy to understand. We try to relate it to life as much as we can, and try to make it simple. And it often works! Even if only one of us gets it, we take the time to explain it to the others until we are all sure of it. It also goes back to having the right environment around you. If you want to understand what you’re studying instead of blindly swallowing it or completely ignoring it, you’ll get friends with the same ‘common goal’ as you who would want to achieve the same thing (in this case, getting good grades in school). And it’s a bonus if you guys know how to blend having fun while studying! 

So good luck in whatever you are trying to learn and remember, making it relatable helps you understand what you are learning much better!

– Harsha

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