Many students are not interested in the subjects they study, and have to force themselves. This article provides some tips to generate interest in any subject so that you can study it better and score better grades.
"I can't get interested in Mediaeval History."
This illustrates a kind of complaint frequently made by college students. Can interest be developed in an "uninteresting" subject; and if so then how??
A growing feeling of pleasure is the sign which notifies us that we are growing interested in a subject. And it is such an aid in the performance of work that we should seek earnestly to acquire it in connection with any work we have to do.
We acquire most of our interests in the course of our experience. Since interests are largely products of experience, then, it follows that if we wish to have an interest in a given subject, we must consciously and purposefully develop it. There is wide choice open to us. We may develop interest in social theory, prize−fight promoting, lignitic rocks, mediaeval history etc.
Do not assume that the development of interest is an easy matter. It requires adherence to certain definite psychological laws which we may call the laws of interest.
The first law may be stated as follows:
1. In order to develop interest in a subject, secure information about it . The force of this law will be apparent as soon as we analyze one of our already−developed interests.
The relation of information to interest can be illustrated by the case of the typical university professor or scientist. He is interested in certain objects of research−−infusoria, electrons, plant ecology,−−because he knows so much about them. He was not always interested in the specific, obscure field, but by saturating himself in facts about it, he has developed an interest in it amounting to passionate absorption.
Let us demonstrate the application of the law again showing how interest may be developed in a specific college subject.
Let us choose one that is generally regarded as so "difficult" and "abstract" that not many people are interested in it−− philology, the study of language as a science. Let us imagine that we are trying to interest a student of law in this. As a first step we shall select some legal term and show what philology can tell about it. As student gathers some basic knowledge of the subject, you may find some students becoming interested in exploring the subject further.
2. There is still another psychological law of interest: In order to develop interest in a subject, exert activity toward it. We see the force of this law when we observe a man in the process of developing an interest in golf. At the start he may have no interest in it whatever; he may even deride it. Yielding to the importunities of his friends, however, he takes his stick in hand and samples the game.
Then he begins to relent; admits that perhaps there may be something interesting about the game after all. As he practises with greater frequency he begins to develop a warmer and still warmer interest until finally he thinks of little else; neglecting social and professional obligations and boring his friends with recitals of golfing incidents.
The methods by which the new−fledged golfer develops an interest in golf will apply with equal effectiveness in the case of a student. In trying to become interested in Mediaeval History, keep actively engaged in it.
Read book after book dealing with the subject. Apply it to your studies in Political Economy, English, and American History. Choose sub−topics in Mediaeval History as the subjects for themes in English composition courses. Try to help some other student in the class. Take part in class discussions and talk informally with the instructor outside of the classroom. Use your ingenuity to devise methods of keeping active toward the subject.
It will readily be noticed that the two laws of interest here set forth are closely interrelated. One can hardly seek information about a subject without exerting activity toward it; conversely, one cannot maintain activity on behalf of a subject without at the same time acquiring information about it.
These two easily−remembered and easily−applied rules of study will go far toward solving some of the most trying conditions of student life. Memorize them, apply them, and you will find yourself in possession of a power which will stay with you long after you quit college walls; one which you may apply with profit in many different situations of life.
In concluding this discussion we should note the wide difference between the quality of study which is done with interest and that done without it. Under the latter condition the student is a slave, a drudge; under the former, he can be a genius. Touched by the spark he sees new significance in every page, in every line. So try to develop as much interest as possible in the subjects you are studying. Your interest can make a lot of difference in your level of performance in that subject.
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