Many people have built a career around a deep interest in something. For example, a friend of mine broke his leg when he was 11 years old and was so fascinated by the emergency room that he decided to become an emergency physician.
“Teach Yourself to Learn”
As part of the college’s Common Summer Reading initiative, both students and faculty will focus their attention on learning through two books designed for each group as well as a nationally-recognized guest speaker about the impact of understanding how one learns.
Both faculty and students will be using books written by Saundra McGuire: “Teach Students How to Learn” will be the faculty-focused book, while students will be reading “Teach Yourself How to Learn.” Following these readings and various discussion groups on campus, both faculty and students will have workshops, led by Dr. Christiane Price of Dalton State College in Georgia, who is one of the nation’s leading experts on student learning and teaching.
Catawba College selected Teach Yourself How to Learn as the 2019 Common Reading because we desire all students at the College succeed and gain a greater affinity for life-long learning. Some of you have already experienced less success than expected in a class or assignment. Others reading this text may not face difficulties in a class until this semester or well after. Everyone will, at some point, face a situation where they perform below their own expectations. These experiences are challenging personally as they lead us to question our beliefs about ourselves, our abilities, and our suitability for the places we find ourselves occupying. At these times, some students choose to reevaluate their efforts and identify possible strategies to grow. Others, unfortunately, stop at this first major struggle and abandon the academic path they were on for another, or abandon the college path altogether. We believe this text helps students face these challenging periods more effectively, allowing students who follow McGuire’s advice to persist at Catawba and continue their intellectual development and pursuit of academic, career, and life goals.
- A pen or pencil to take notes on the reading in your book. Some of you may have heard this described as text annotation. Effective text annotation includes: marking interesting portions of the reading you would like to think about further, underlining or circling words you need to look up to understand a passage, circle names or dates, or mark passages you feel are important to the author’s point.
- A separate piece of paper. Treat reading course materials as you would written correspondence. Approach this reading (in our case the text of a speech) as letter, text message, or email to which you must respond. Write down questions designed to clarify parts of the authors’ arguments and to begin a conversation with the authors about areas of the book where you disagree with, or desire to understand more fully, their perspectives.
As this is a lengthy book, we provide the following guidance  on what you should focus on and take notes on before, during, and after you read sections of this book. You should read the entire text. The initial chapters and introductory pages provide useful background and context to prepare for McGuire’s introduction of key ideas beginning in Chapter Three.
Effectively reading or listening requires a understanding the context in which it was created. Additionally, we must be aware of the context and purpose we bring with us when encountering a document. We can summarize these two elements as:
- Who am I and why am I reading this? The obvious answer to the second part of this question is that we have asked you to read this book. However, we want you to consider the position or perspective you occupy as you approach this text by considering the following questions:
- Did you find academics easy or difficult before arriving at Catawba?
- Did you earn grades that were higher than you expected or lower than you expected before enrolling at Catawba?
- What grades do you expect to earn in your first semester at Catawba?
- Do you think the grades you entered before coming to Catawba were reflective more of your ability as a student or of your effort as a student? In other words, do you consider yourself as earning grades based on natural intelligence or on hard work?
- Do you feel that you already know how to study effectively? Is this reflected in your grades before entering Catawba?
- Do you feel like you learned anything in school before coming to Catawba? Why or why not?
- What are your educational goals at Catawba?
- Why are you in college?
- Why are you at Catawba?
- What is the ten item list on pp. 40-41?
- How does McGuire describe each, and why is each important?
- What are the relationships among the items in this list?
- Why is reading (actively) difficult?
- How do previewing, coming up with questions the reading should answer, and paraphrasing help one overcome the difficult part of reading according to McGuire?
The Importance Of Self Awareness
As noted at the outset, increased self-awareness has wide-ranging positive ramifications. However, one of its most important consequences is increased emotional intelligence. When you’re more emotionally intelligent, you’re better able to identify and manage your feelings as they come up, neither repressing them nor being lost in them.
Emotionally intelligent people are also more at peace with who they really are, focusing more on meeting their own standards than the standards set by others. Self-awareness and high emotional intelligence are also correlated with greater levels of success. For example, recent psychological studies indicate that many top business leaders have both of these traits, and that plays a key role in their continued achievements.
So, whether you want to excel in your job, are looking to improve the most important relationships in your life or just want to feel more at peace with your own company, you have a lot to gain from working on self-awareness.
7 Ways To Get To Know Yourself
Before practicing any techniques to get to know yourself, it’s important to be open to whatever you find. After all, you may be surprised by some aspects of who you are, especially if you find it difficult to disengage from the judgments of others.
However, once you’re armed with an accepting, curious attitude, you should find the process of self-discovery enjoyable and exciting. Here are seven of the best ways to start getting to know a wide range of aspects of yourself, along with a few of the most prominent benefits you can expect to gain from taking each step.
1. Get To Know Your Personality
Consider how your past has shaped your future self, giving particular weight to your early life experiences. Often, what we go through as children plays a key role in creating patterns, preferences, and needs for the future.
2. Get To Know Your Core Values
Psychologists often suggest that most of us have around eight core values and that these play the biggest role in motivating our choices at work, at home, and in everyday life. Make a list of the eight values that you think guide you. In many cases, these will be moral commitments that you have.
3. Get To Know Your Body
When we think about self-knowledge, it’s easy to focus on the psychological at the expense of the physical. However, getting to know your body is just as important as getting to know the intricacies of your mind. All too often, our bodies are treated as the enemy, or as a mere afterthought. Learning more about your body helps you to set realistic goals and know your own limits, as well as helping you feel more comfortable in your own skin.
As well as reflecting on your physical capabilities, be open to trying new things to see if they suit your body. Meanwhile, practice mindfulness meditations (such as body scanning exercises) in order to allow yourself to feel more in tune with your breathing and your movements. If you struggle with body image issues, challenge yourself to think of five things you love about what your body can do (or has done).
We’ve talked a lot about making various lists and notes, but a more general habit of journaling can also play a key role in boosting your self-knowledge. If you write in a journal every day, self-reflection becomes your default. You start to learn to look past your superficial reactions to see your underlying needs and emotions. Keeping a journal also helps you identify your own voice; distinguishing your inner voice from the voices of people whose approval you may be seeking.
You don’t just have to follow the standard approach of writing a bit about each day, either. For example, you can journal about what you eat, what you see, what you dream or what you think. You can also draw instead of writing, or create collages.
If you’re not sure what style works for you, alternate throughout the course of a week and consider mixing approaches. As long as you keep a journal, you’ll be working towards greater self-knowledge in some way.
5. Identify Your Strengths And Weaknesses
Getting to know yourself is all about developing a real picture of who you are, including the parts you are proud of and the parts that you struggle with from time to time. Conduct an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses, starting with your strengths. Think about what you like about yourself, and also which parts of yourself consistently elicit the most positive feedback. For example, perhaps you’re often being told that you are extremely patient with others, or you know that you have a great imagination.
When it comes to identifying your weaknesses, ask yourself whether there are common themes in your failures or in disappointing episodes of your life. In addition, consider whether you are often asked to work on a specific aspect of your character. For example, perhaps your bosses regularly highlight that you don’t speak up during meetings, indicating that a potential weakness is a lack of self-confidence.
6. Have A Life Vision And Mission
While thinking about the past is vital for getting to know yourself, making plans for the future is just as important. Instead of just coasting through life and being reactive to the behaviors of others, ask yourself what you view as your life’s mission.
Keep in mind that a life’s mission doesn’t need to be something dramatic, or world-changing. Think of your mission as being defined by what makes you feel authentic, excited and passionate. Meanwhile, give some thought to how this mission might help others, even on a small scale.