There’s a little known fact about doing well in school. It has nothing to do with studying or re-reading or writing or any of the normal things one might be inclined to do the night before a big test or large assignment. And despite what you might be accused of (schmoozing) or being (“teacher’s pet”) it doesn’t really have anything to do with those terms either. The simple fact is this: talk to your teachers.
Today I had the great pleasure of having a reason to speak with my professors. Since we are out of the regular term and prior to the summer term both of these meetings took place off-campus. There’s something remarkably freeing about meeting with your instructors away from the dust and book lined shelves of an on-campus office. There seems to be a lightness to the meeting. There is a freeness and openness not possible with the full weight of “academia” surrounding and oppressing your thoughts. Despite the decidedly non-academic locations the discussion was both friendly and highly informed.
Here’s the point: why wait for the red-pen marks on the side margins of that paper to talk to your prof? Why wait to hurriedly see the final letter grade on your computer screen when your professors are there all year round? In some ways this is similar to overcoming your fear of “asking a stupid question” (there really is no such thing). It differs, however, in that your own ideas can be tested in the waters of respected thinkers in your area. There’s no one better to run your ideas by than someone who could quickly inform you of the challenges and problems with those ideas. This doesn’t make your idea less valuable but instead focuses your idea (and shines and polishes your idea) into a better idea. You also have the benefit of talking about your idea with someone who both understands and cares. Try it out sometime. Special thanks to my wonderful teachers, now and in the past.