Jamie Kim, News Editor
According to Mr. Osborne, young students tend to believe a common misconception that they need to work hard in order to achieve what they want. However, there is a fine line between working “hard” and working “smart.”
Mr. Osborne has spent the past nine years teaching science and math, he has drawn a clear distinction between working “hard” and working “smart.” Working hard is a “traditional brain-racking approach without getting the best yield for the effort.” The latter he described, as “working efficiently as well as effectively.”
Mr. Osborne draws a clear distinction between the two approaches. “Your brain is like a suitcase and there are many ways you can pack your suitcase. Working hard would be jamming all your clothes in the suitcase without thinking. Working smart would be rolling your clothes before putting them into the suitcase to save room and avoid wrinkles. A combination of both working hard and smart would be folding your clothes neatly.
During his studies of working hard versus working smart, Mr. Osborne has discovered that students have an inaccurate understanding of academic success. Students tend to think success is strictly based on inputs such as the number of hours they put into studying or how well they can simultaneously juggle their classes. Mr. Osborne believes this is not hard work, but simply poor management of time, and explains that working smart usually involves prioritizing with the goal of achieving and obtaining the optimum result and outcome rather than focusing on inputs or hours studied.
Students who work “smart” must first identify their own strengths and weaknesses which results in figuring out their own methods for working “smart.” Joanne Kwan, a senior, used to study SAT words by straight forward “brute force” of memorization. However, this method demonstrated a poor effectiveness: she could only memorize five words out of ten in five minutes, and after a few minutes, she usually ended up forgetting all of them. On the other hand, when Joanne was given the opportunity to memorize the same words using a book called “Vocabulary Cartoons,” which is a book of comic mnemonics designed for learning new words, she was able to learn all of the 10 words within five minutes, a 100 percent increase in her ability to retain what she had memorized. The approach taken in the book is as follows: when faced with a new vocabulary word, link it to an already known word and visualize a mental picture in which both words play an integral part.
Janice Kim, senior, has a similar method for studying smart. “I have improved my critical reading score, up to 150 points, by memorizing Greek and Latin root words.” Janice explained, there is a core list of roots every test taker should have at his or her fingertips. She further advised for sophomores and juniors to start memorizing these root words early. “A solid understanding of root words within the English language will not only help during the SAT, but will also help develop communication skills.”
As much as students work hard, Mr. Osborne has found that their are usually only two outcomes for choosing to working “hard” over working “smart.” Students will become an integral part of the ‘rat race’ aimed at getting exemplary grades or they get tired and stop trying. Although, working “hard” is normally perceived as the key to success, working “smart” can also be a key to success in the long run, shaping students into life long learners.