Use your mind and think

It’s easy to lose

By Aidan Mouellic, Contributor

This may seem like a backwards thing to state in a campus newspaper, but not enough students are interested in learning—the act of genuinely making an effort to understand what is being taught. I’ve only recently begun to fully appreciate how great it is to learn because I was mentally ill for a period of time and was not able to use my brain or time in the way I would have liked. I won’t bore you with the details of that period, but now that I’m on the other side, life is much better and brighter. I guess it takes losing your mind to realize how precious it really is.

Like our ability to walk, see, and breathe freely, we take our mental health for granted daily. Our minds are immensely powerful and capable of truly wonderful things—it’s a pity then that so many of us underuse them. Our brains need to be exercised and stressed to prevent atrophy. I see little evidence of this in classes I’ve taken when I hear students repeatedly asking the instructor each week if they need to memorize something for an exam. This makes me want to yell at the student and just tell them to “Learn it!”

I understand that we sometimes have to take courses we don’t care much for, but instead of seeing these courses as chores requiring mere memorization of the subject matter, try viewing them as an opportunity to learn something new. College is a time when we students should be focused on learning new skills and developing ourselves. It’s something a lot of us do, but it also appears that an increasing number of students are here merely for the ability to enter a more lucrative career afterwards. Though it is important to take steps to better our future career prospects, we should also do ourselves a favor and try to make the most of our opportunities by taking a genuine interest in the material and trying to understand what we are supposed to be learning.

I want to punch myself in the face for sounding like a patronizing old person, but it seems with the proliferation of technological aids, few people truly think or take pleasure in learning anymore. I fondly remember the years I spent as a Cub Scout, yearning for new badges to add to my sash. A sash full of badges was the ultimate in cool factor; it meant that the wearer had not only been successful, but that they had a vast repertoire of skills. If I ever had to be stranded somewhere for 127 hours, I would want a sashed out Cub Scout with me.

Learning new things is thrilling. You become more confident, capable, and interesting—three traits that will help you in a multitude of ways. So how about you try putting down your iPhone, picking up a how-to book, learning Chinese, and going to impress the guys and gals down in Chinatown. Or just make an effort to become interested in your biology class and figure out how a fetus becomes a baby, then pass the course.