Best Apps to Beat Boredom AND LEARN

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Here at The Math Guru, we strongly believe that summer should be all about fun and games, but that doesn’t mean letting your brain turn to mush! That’s why we’ve compiled this list of apps you can download on your iPad/iPhone/Android/whatever the newest gadget is to keep yourself entertained and educated. From crosswords to math games, we’ve got you covered. So next time you’re looking for something to do on a quiet night or rainy day grab that screen of yours and get learning!!

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Sushi Monster

This adorable and super delicious looking game helps to reinforce your math fluency using sashimi as the inspiration. We’ll take 6 pieces of california roll + 3 dragon rolls please!

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Little Crossword Puzzles

Don’t have much time? Looking to kill a few minutes while you wait for your friend at Starbucks? Whatever the case is, the Little Crossword Puzzles app will keep you busy for a short period of time. The app comes with a bunch of puzzles that can be solved in under  than 5 minutes.

screen480x480Pizza Fractions

What’s better than Pizza, how about Pizza FRACTIONS. This app is perfect for kids who are being introduced to fractions, but we have a feeling some of our older students could also always use a little fractions refresher…

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Sudoku Puzzle World

Sudoku Puzzle World is a super aesthetically pleasing game that’ll also get you to put your “thinking cap” on. With stunning backgrounds for each puzzle, this is probably the most calm you’ll ever feel when dealing with numbers.

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Crossword: World’s Biggest

Looking for a challenge? Try the world’s “biggest” crossword puzzle! If you’re up for testing your all-around general knowledge (topics range from history to pop culture to science) then this app is for you! Download it to get access to over 300 puzzles and 7000 clues. That should definitely keep you busy for the next couple of months..

Staying SHARP and SMART During Summer

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Now that school is officially OUT, you can kick back and relax- well kinda. While we totally encourage taking the summer  to wind down and recharge, it’s also a good idea to incorporate a couple of easy (and fun!) activities into your break. Check out this list below for a few suggestions on things you can do to stay sharp and smart during your vacay. 

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Read, Read, Read

John Green, (a.k.a author of The Fault in Our Stars) said “Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.” If you think that reading should only be done when your english class requires it, you might want to reconsider. Supplement your spare time in the summer with books that actually interest you. Reading (of any genre) has the capacity to exercise your brain and improve its function.

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Crossword Puzzles, Sudokus, Educational Apps etc.

Between smartphones and iPads, there are endless options of apps you can download that might actually help build brain cells instead of deplete them. Rather than opening up Angry Birds or Candy Crush, stock your electronics with Sudoku apps or Crossword puzzles. In need of some recommendations? Stay tuned for our next blog post!

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Make Time for Cultural Activities

Get out and explore your city! During the summer months, so many museums and galleries feature special exhibits. Browse their websites to see what’s happening, and find something that looks appealing to you. Make a point to visit one of these places on a rainy day or on a weekend. You’ll leave feeling cultured and educated!

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Watch Documentaries

Documentaries are a great way to feel both educated and entertained. With Netflix, Shomi and so many other streaming services around, there is no shortage of docs you can watch right from the comfort of your couch. If you aren’t sure what’s worth your time, check out lists of film festival favourites and award show nominees for some inspiration. We’re giving a shout out to Cosmos, at 13-part documentary series that’s out of this world…literally.

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Keep a Journal

You know that sick feeling in your stomach you get the first week back at school when your teacher asks you to write a paragraph and you can barely remember how to hold a pen?! Keeping a journal will prevent that!! Summer always feels like it’s over way too quickly, so make the most of it by documenting all the adventures you get up to. Not only is it a great way to remember your experiences, but also to reflect on, and appreciate them.

Math & Memes & Talk Shows, OH MY!

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It’s the second week of June and we know that can only mean one of two things – you are either in the thick of exams or soooo close to the finish line you can almost taste it. There are of course a couple of you lucky ducks that are already out for the summer and (whom we are totally jealous of). Whatever your current situation, we thought we’d brighten your Thursday with some math related (but totally awesome) content.   

If you’re one of those people who thinks that math and science are reserved strictly for textbooks and classrooms, think again! We’ve scoured the internet to find you some of the most hilarious articles and videos that combine our favourite things: academics and pop culture.

 

  1. This article from U.K. Complex that worked out how Reddit used calculated how much money Joey owes Chandler (plus many more pop culture math problems). 

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2. These videos from Jimmy Fallon where he explains “popular mathematics”. Definitely not the most accurate source for educational resources, but we give Jimmy credit shining a spotlight on the concept of math, and giving the subject a prime time TV spot! (We’ve linked two of them below, but Jimmy’s made several of them!)

 

3. This math meme ft. Lady Gaga that will totally help you remember how to deal with polynomials. BEST.

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4. The PBS Math Club just about knocks our socks off. This collection of Youtube videos riffs off of well-known movies to explain mathematical concepts. Videos range from a Wes Anderson style satire that explains how to multiply positive and negative numbers to a Mean Girls/Darth Vader collab that lays out adding negative numbers. We’re OBSESSED.                        

Top 5 Study Break Ideas (that don’t involve stress eating!)

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Last week on the blog, we featured 5 awesome recipes to fuel you during your study sessions. While we highlighted the importance of food for energy and nourishment, for many, it’s easy to over do it on the snacking. Instead of stress eating, try these five different activities during your study break. Not only will they make you feel refreshed and rejuvenated, but they will prevent that bloated and uncomfortable feeling you might get when you eat too much and then have to sit back down to study.

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Meditate

Yes, there’s a reason that our logo happens to be a woman sitting in the classical “Lotus” (or “meditating”) pose with beautiful mathematical symbols emanating from her hands. Meditation is a great way to relax and slow your heart rate down, something you’ll find especially helpful if you’re feeling hyped up and anxious over a certain set of problems. Find a space to sit down, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. If you aren’t sure where to begin, try using an app. We love Headspace and Stop, Breathe & Think.

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Phone a Friend

Sometimes, there’s nothing more isolating than sitting alone in a room for 3+ hours on end. Rather than sending texts and distracting yourself throughout your study session, save the chatting for a break and have a #realtalk over the phone with one of your besties. It will get your mind off of the books, and make you feel less lonely!

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Stretch

We all know that sitting in the same position for a long time is horrible for our bodies, especially if that position is being hunched over a desk. Take a few minutes here and there to get up and give your body a decent stretch. We recommend focusing on exercises that open your chest, to counteract all that screen time. Small movements like rolling your shoulders, clasping your hands above your head, or a runner’s calf stretch will also have you feeling energized!
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Get Some Fresh Air (and Up Your Step Count)

There’s nothing like a breath of fresh air! If you’re feeling trapped and claustrophobic at your desk or in the library, take 20 minutes to go for a walk. Fresh air can reinvigorate you and there are countless studies that have shown that being in nature stimulates the brain, increases immune function and has a calming effect on our bodies. Use a pedometer to track your steps, and set a step goal for yourself to make sure you’re moving enough even during exam time. If you have a dog, do double duty by crossing a chore off your to-do list, while also taking care of your mind, body and soul!

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Have a Dance Party

You know it’s never a dull moment here at The Math Guru, so why not incorporate some of the crazy into your own private studying sessions? If you’re feeling fatigued and unmotivated, put the books away for a couple minutes and blast your favourite tunes. Be sure to get out of your chair and dance around to them, since frequent movement is key to surviving long periods of studying. Don’t worry no one will judge you based on your music choices OR dance moves, so go all out and get those endorphins pumping!

The Top 5 Study Snacks For Exam Time

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If you’ve ever been to one of the Math Guru’s EXAM JAMS (a.k.a. exam review sessions that are kind of like a house party but way cooler) than you’ll know that we are all about having plenty of snacks. Not only is having a snack the perfect excuse to take a quick study break, but getting the right nutrients is essential for ensuring you are powering your brain with the fuel it needs! Below, we’ve listed some easy peasy recipes you can make and munch on while you’re studying!

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Avocado Toast

Probably the most intagrammed food ever, there’s a reason this food is so popular. It’s super easy to make, and is a more filling option that’s perfect for lunch. Avocados are high in healthy fats that lower blood pressure, and promote good blood flow. A healthy blood flow in turn contributes to healthy brain function. This article from Pop Sugar gives tons of ideas on how to prepare it, but if you want to keep it simple we suggest: a slice of multigrain bread, half an avocado, a drizzle of olive oil, and some garlic salt!  

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Energy Balls

We’ve featured these before, but energy balls are one of the easiest and most delicious things to whip up. Not only can you make a bunch at once to have on hand while you study, but this recipe has chocolate chips, and will seriously satisfy your sweet tooth. Pack your energy balls with nuts and seeds to really reap some brain power benefits. They are high in Vitamin E, which is known to boost cognitive abilities.

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Smoothies

We know it can suck that final exams happen right when the weather gets warm. Beat the heat with a refreshing smoothie that will also recharge and rejuvenate you with all the energy you’ll need to finish those practice questions! This Buzzfeed article lists eight different recipes that all use only 3 ingredients each – showing you just how simple it is to create endless varieties that taste amazing!! Pro tip: We recommend #7 (Blue Magic) since it uses Almond Butter (nuts = Vitamin E) and Blueberries (which are thought to improve learning capacity!).

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Overnight Oats

Oats are a great way to get your glucose, which is the primary fuel your brain uses to power itself. Glucose comes from carbohydrates, (*spoiler alert: the right carbs aren’t bad for you!!) and oats are made up of carbs. But the carbs in whole-grain foods like oats get broken down by the body at a very slow pace, so it helps keep you full and focused for much longer than a something like a piece of white bread. Make these oats the night before a long day at the library, and bring them with you to eat if hunger strikes.

2015-06-01-Sweet-Tea-Recipe-17Freshly Brewed Tea

It’s no secret that over TMG we have a slight obsession (ok fine, a HUGE obsession). Although most wouldn’t technically consider it a “snack”, a cup of tea can sometimes be all you need for a little pick me up! Plus it’s great to have with you since you can sip away while studying and stay focused. Tea has less caffeine than coffee, so a cup won’t leave you feeling jittery, but will still stimulate your brain and boost your energy. What’s more, a cup of tea has lots of antioxidants, which are also known to improve blood flow.

Top 5 Pitfalls to Watch Out for When Studying

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studytipsfromfaye_LargeWideWe so often here tons of tips and tricks that are supposed to make you study better, and help you ace those finals. However, there are a lot of common mistakes students make that don’t get addressed. With exam season around the corner, we’ve listed the top 5 pitfalls you might be the victim of when studying. By become more aware of these mistakes, you can take action to correct them, and (in the words of our fave rapper Kanye) make you study harder, better faster and stronger!

  1. Memorizing

One of the biggest issues students have is relying on memorization of facts or formulas, rather than actually understanding the information they’ve been given. This becomes a problem especially in “thinking” and “understanding” (lol maybe??) questions, since you’re less likely to be able to apply information to questions you haven’t seen before if you’re just memorizing. Use study strategies, like saying things aloud in your own words, to make sure you’re actually understanding the bigger concepts!

  1. Studying Chronologically

Although it might be tempting to want to study in the same order that you learned the material, it’s something to try and avoid doing. Focus on the most important information, and try and pick up on any hints your teacher might give on sections that are priority. Often, when students study in order, they don’t leave enough time to properly study the last units. Its also usually a safe bet that you’ll be tested heavily on the most recent information you’ve learned, so make sure to revise it thoroughly.

  1. Setting Overly Ambitious Study Goals

If you’re setting out to study for 8 hours in a day, it’ll be very difficult to accomplish. Even if you’re sitting down the entire time, your body and brain will usually feel drained after 4-5 hours of intensive studying. What’s more, if you’ve mentally blocked out such a long time period, you’ll probably use your hours much less efficiently and end up spending 40-50% of that time on FB or Instagram. Also, if you’re unrealistic with what you want to get done, you’ll probably feel unmotivated and upset when you don’t accomplish what you set out to.

  1. Sacrificing Sleep to Study

We generally see this with our older students, but make sure you aren’t staying up late the night before your exam. It’s super important to get a good night’s rest every night during exam periods, since good sleep is one of the most important tools for helping you retain information. Going to bed at your normal bedtime will also mean you aren’t cramming at the last minute- something you definitely want to avoid!

  1. Negative Thinking

This is something we talk about allllll the time. The absolute worst thing you can do when studying is to beat yourself up. Didn’t do so well on your last test? Don’t sweat it! Look at each evaluation or exam as a fresh start, and a new chance to prove to yourself that you’ve got this. Since you can’t control what the exam will cover, or its level of difficulty –  focus on what you can control- your mentality! Take pauses and deep breathes if you start to feel flustered while studying, and just keep telling yourself “I can, and I will!”

MMMVAs (Much Music Math Video Awards)

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Sometimes the internet just blows us away. Between the thousands of memes, Buzzfeed lists, and those quick speed cooking videos all over our Facebook feeds, it’s never a dull moment. YouTube in particular is home to some pretty sweet content, including these HILARIOUS math parody music videos. Today, in our own version of the Much Music Video Awards, we’ve rounded up our favourites. If you’re in need of a little pre-homework pump up, get into the zone with one of these videos. We promise they’ll have you calculating to the beat.

“It’s Just Math” – Frozen Let It Go Parody

Yes, Anna and Elsa love math. This song has an emphasis on geometry, which makes perfect sense, since Elsa’s frozen castle was basically constructed out of ICEsoceles triangles. (Pun, very much intended).

“Teach Me How to Factor” – Teach Me How to Dougie Parody 

What’s better than catchy rap? How about a catchy MATH rap. This parody of “Teach Me How to Dougie” will actually teach you how to factor. So if you’re tired of staring at your notes from class, drop this beat in the background while you’re doing your homework and you’ll be a factoring pro in no time.

“All I Do is Solve” – All I Do is Win Parody

Ok huge shoutout to the WSHS math department for killing it with these videos. The same school who put together “Teach Me How to Factor” also has this gem of a song. “All I Do is Solve” focuses on solving equations, and it even goes through the three different methods, graphing, elimination and substitution!

“Slope” – Hello Parody

Ok so maybe this one is significantly cheesier than our other picks, but if you’re trying to learn slope, this parody of Adele’s “Hello” is pretty bang on. Also props to this teacher who clearly just really wanted to sing about mx + b.

Uptown Factors – Uptown Funk Parody

We’ll finish up on an upbeat note! This is another video about factoring, but this time featuring a slightly more recent chart topper with this parody of Uptown Funk. We’re obsessed with everything about this video – from the dance moves, to the outfits to the informative equations that pop up throughout! You won’t be able to help but sing along!

SUPER Study Spaces

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With exam season around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about strategies you can implement into your study routine to help you ace those finals. Sometimes a lot more is needed than just a desk with some pencils and paper. Being in a space that is comfortable, but conducive to studying will help you work more efficiently, while also keeping you chilled out and focused. Below we’ve listed some key things you should look for in a good study space.

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1. Good Lighting

How are you going to study if you can’t read your textbook?! A well-lit space is so important if you want to avoid straining your eyes. Not only is it bad for them, but it’s usually the cause of that horrible study headache we’ve all experienced. If you’re studying at your desk, make sure you have a good desk lamp and position it in the top left corner so the light falls in the same direction that you read. If you’re at a coffee shop or library try to snag a spot next to a window so you can take in as much natural daylight as possible!

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2. Comfy Chair

As far as we know, no one’s ever studied on a stool and lasted more than 20 minutes. Comfort is key when studying and you want to make sure your back is being well supported so you don’t get any painful aches! However, if you’re sitting on something too plushy, like a couch, you might find yourself fighting the urge to doze off. Try and find a chair that keeps you upright, has a comfortable seat and a solid backrest.

IMG_07003. Minimal Noise

This one may be controversial, but we do recommend you don’t try and memorize your biology terminology with hard core hip hop blasting. Although lots of students find that studying with music in the background helps them focus, make sure you aren’t getting distracted by singing along. Instrumental music sometimes actually helps – try electro, or even some classical. Although coffee shops are great places to study, sometimes they can be a little too noisy. Try and scope out spots where you know the music and the atmosphere are chilled out enough that you’ll be able to focus.

IMG_07014. Brain Food

Nothing builds up an appetite like a long study sesh. If you find your energy has started to dip but you’re determined to finish that last problem set, grabbing a quick (and HEALTHY) snack will re-energize you so you can push on. Nuts and granola are a great option, as are crackers with hummus or cheese. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, try out these healthy energy balls that are packed with protein but have a hint of chocolate. We are of course also in favour of sitting down with a soothing cup of tea, and replenishing as often as you like!unnamed5. No Distractions

GUYS. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat will not disappear forever if you don’t check them every 10 minutes. Put your phone out of sight – we suggest leaving it in a different room altogether, preferably one in which you have to climb 2 flights of stairs to get to 😉 You know even if you tell yourself you’ll only scroll for 5 minutes, it’s easy to get wrapped into a cyber vortex and waste half an hour without even realizing it. If you really need your laptop or phone with you, download an app like Forest. It grows a virtual tree while you leave the work-related app you’re using open, but kills it once you leave – don’t be a tree killer!!

Because The National Post Didn’t Want To Print This

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Every once in awhile you read an article in another publication that makes you scream “THIS! THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE UNIVERSE!” Well, that happened to me last week. So, like any normal human being, I wrote a scathing Op Ed piece for The National Post. And of course they didn’t publish it. Lucky you, I’m going to share it with you anyways. Enjoy!

In response to this gem of an article from The National Post, which essentially promotes the idea that some of us should simply ‘give up on math’ at the age of eight: Embrace your ineptitude when giving up is the right thing to do

“Embrace your ineptitude when giving up is the right thing to do.” First of all, wow, what a statement to make to your educated readers, many (if not most) who have no doubt worked hard to get where they are today – an aptitude level that enables them to read and (gasp!) understand the verbose and multi-syllabic lexicon of this very publication. What would have happened to this group of people is they had decided in say, Grade 2, that they simply didn’t and never would have the capacity to read so perhaps they should instead focus their efforts on ‘what they’re good at’? Numeracy and the presently increasing lack thereof among the younger generation is a growing concern, and as someone who failed math before realizing that her perceived ineptitude was simply something imposed upon her, I take issue with the notion that mathematical and direction-following ability is something that large portions of our population (marginalized groups and women, no less) are inherently bad at.

When I was in high school, I failed math. Twice. Of course, that made sense. I wasn’t good at math, I was good at art and English, usually it’s one or the other isn’t it? Can people really be good at multiple things? Shocker. My parents weren’t having it (which I am grateful for to this day, thanks mom and dad), and enrolled me in a smaller school where teachers didn’t indulge in the idea of ‘math people’ and ‘non math people’. Within a week I was enjoying the wonders of the forbidden fruits that mathematical knowledge held under the guidance of a teacher who believed in me right from the moment I walked into her classroom. I ended the year with a 99% in Grade 12 math, and went on to achieve a grade of 100% in first year university Calculus. I pursued a business degree, a teaching degree, and a Masters of Arts in Mathematics Education and now own a math & science tutoring studio in Toronto where the focus is on specifically eradicating and extinguishing the notion that ‘some people just can’t do it.’

Do we “live in a society that wants to change us into mathematicians and direction-followers,” or do we (and should we) live in a society where everyone has the opportunity to decide if they want to be a mathematician or direction-follower?  I see hundreds of students a week, most of whom do poorly at math because of a lack of confidence and a deeply embedded sense of inability. I work with students who, once they begin to succeed, are incredibly empowered by the realization that they can do something they believed so deeply that they couldn’t.

Math is more than calculations and Google Maps. Math is the intuitive ability to solve problems, to get creative, to think outside the box, something that no calculator or GPS can do for you. Sure different people may have different natural strengths, but do we really think that giving up if something proves difficult is any way to approach the many curveballs that life throws at us?  You say you’re here to tell us that “most of us cannot be changed.” I’m here to tell you that most of us can be changed if given the opportunity, the inspiration, and the impetus to want to change. I’m living proof and I hope my story speaks to those discouraged and disempowered by your message that their brains perhaps simply ‘don’t work in a particular way.’ Your brains all work just fine – now go embrace that mathematical aptitude burning within and find a problem that needs solving!

Learn To Love Learning As Much As Kanye Loves Kanye

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Ahhhh March Break. A respite from the painful 9-3:15 of having knowledge shoved at you period after period by teachers who care about your enjoyment of said knowledge, and sadly, many who don’t.  For many, this is a time to finally take a brain break, to spend your time guiltlessly on Netflix marathons, gluing yourselves to your iPhones, and oh hey – actual extracurricular activities like swimming and skiing and like, talking to actual people in real life! And then after a week (or two for you lucky pay-more-for-less-school private kids), it all ends, and you go back to the dreary process of LEARNING, ugh gross blecccchh what could be worse than filling your mind with fascinating new information that you DIDN’T KNOW BEFORE?!

Okay well when I was a teenager, I didn’t feel that way.

The problem is that learning has REALLY gotten a bad rap. Like, it’s out of control. I say the word ‘learn’ or ‘think’ to a teenager, and something seriously frightening happens – like, this eye-roll into the backs of their actual SKULLS and a disgusted “UGHHHHHHH” that might last anywhere from 3-32 seconds, followed by this thing they do where they mush their fingers into their eye sockets and pull down the bottoms of their eyelids and sort of contort their faces into ghoul-like masks. It is NOT a pretty sight.  Am I concerned about my students’ resemblance to the cast of The Walking Dead at the mere mention of the learning and application of new knowledge?  Yes.  I am. I don’t know what it is they’re conjuring when they hear the word ‘learn,’ but it certainly isn’t the same as what I associated with the word when I was in high school.

I think that part of the problem is that students tend to equate learning with a few rather unattractive synonyms. I shall list them here:

  • Boring
  • Lame
  • Hard
  • Good grades
  • Meaninglessness
  • Pointlessness
  • Pain
  • Uninspiring
  • Falling apart
  • Smelling like paint
  • Asbestos

This is based on actual, real-life experiences I have had with students who have said each of these words. In real life. To me. (I think those last three actually refer to the insides of students’ schools which in turn they associate with learning – either way, when a student refers to ‘learning’ as ‘falling apart,’ we’ve got a problem.)

When I was a teenager, like every kid I loved March Break. But I loved the end of March Break just as much. I know this fact is difficult to digest and believe, but it’s the truth. Okay, when I was in my I-hate-school-and-need-to-move-to-Hollywood phase, I hated the end of March Break. But once I got over that, that’s what I’m talking about. The end of March Break signaled the beginning of spring. The days were longer, the air was sweeter, and patio weather was possible at any point. What this really meant for me was that my love for learning could expand beyond the confines of my classroom, local coffee shop, or bedroom. The city was my educational oyster, and I its willing pupil!

Part of the reason I loved learning was that I loved studying. I loved feeling like this important person who had all of this important information to learn and dissect and organize into detailed notes in order to make sense of. And I liked it because I think it just made me feel important, like one of those business people that’s always carrying around a briefcase of really important papers and like, scribbling illegible notes all over them frantically, as though at the risk of losing some very epic and potentially world-changing revelation. Or maybe I’m just thinking of The Imitation Game. Whatever. But part of the whole feeling I had was that of this society I imagined where everyone was running around doing incredibly important things; and I wanted to be one of them. Call me an old soul, call me a narcissist, either way, this led to me developing a love for learning – and especially, a love for exhibitionist learning. I have carried this desire to be a functioning member of society with me to this very day, employing the same methods to carry out my work as I used when I was in high school. WHAT methods, you ask? Well, this is the part where I impart my wisdom on you in list form and provide you with a variety of ways in which you too can reposition learning from “pointless” to “powerful,” and from “asbestos” to “AWESOME.”

  1. Get into exhibitionism. Contrary to popular belief, this does not necessarily entail getting naked. So please keep your clothes on. In fact, clothing is a critical part of this piece of advice. What I’m talking about is getting out of your messy bedroom or lame-o library, shedding your sweats, and dressing the part. Get yourself into whatever outfit screams “I am SUPER IMPORTANT and have SUPER IMPORTANT things to do so GET OUT OF MY WAY” (think: Elle Woods, Cher Horowitz, Chuck Bass…you get the gist), pack your bag full of school supplies, and go somewhere to study that is right in the heart of the public eye. You want to essentially create a situation where if TMZ was skulking around doing a piece on “super important celebs doing mysterious yet super important things,” the paps would be alllll over you. That’s what we’re going for here. Which leads to my next point.

    Cher Horowitz & Dionne Davenport, outfits on point in Clueless. Ugh they look SO IMPORTANT!

     

    Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass getting ready to HIT THE BOOKS. Guaranteed that's what he's doing.

    Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass getting ready to HIT THE BOOKS. Guaranteed that’s what he’s doing.

  2. Find your Chateau Marmont. In order to FEEL important, you need to feel surrounded by important people. Well guess what? Important people are not hanging out in your dining room or local library. The search for the perfect study space is a tough one, but was always, and continues to be, my absolute favourite part of the study process. You know what they say: location, location, location! And by ‘they’ I mean Real Estate agents. Forget the usual suspects and find yourself a hipster coffee shop, fancy lunch spot, or the latest trendy fro-yo place (or whatever new frozen desert is currently trending, I can’t keep up) to set yourself up at. Think outside the box! The ‘ideal study spot’ checklist is long and nuanced and most likely requires a post all to itself, but things to check for include: wifi, comfy chairs, non-wobbly tables, and snacking potential, the latter being the most important; nothing kills a good study buzz like hunger! Whatever you do, find somewhere you can’t wait to set up your pseudo-office at, and get pumped to be the shining star who you know that everyone around you will shortly begin to envy.
  3. Get your squad in check. When I was in high school, my friends and I had a totally tight study squad. We would all meet up at Sweet Surrenders, this incredible place that exclusively served giant slices of cake and ridiculously decadent beverages, and we would study together for entire evenings. It was SO MUCH FUN. I know what you’re thinking: nerd alert! Whatever, please. What could be more fun than passionately arguing over the right way to solve a trig identity over a slice of chocolate spice mocha cheesecake? NOTHING. Forget your friends that just want to gab and take a trillion selfies instead of hitting the books – they’re useless to you now. Assemble the right squad, and make this your thing.
  4. Slap on that SPF and get some sun. This is actually why I started writing this in the first place! My romantic notions of March Break ending just as sunny spring weather begins, while empirically inaccurate, remains an oasis of hope for me. In Toronto we definitely have those freak days where it’s like, 7 whole degrees in FEBRUARY (which is insanely hot for Toronto in the dead of winter) and everyone loses their MINDS, slaps on a pair of short shorts, and you legit can’t get a seat on a single patio because they are all RAMMED because guys, we’re Canadian and we’re hardcore. Likewise, after March Break I totally remember those freak 17 degree spring days that would inspire me to head to my favourite park, set up shop at a beat-up picnic table, and get to work with the air of one of those brooding souls who thinks she might be the next Buddha, sitting under the tree of life (read: some rando maple tree) percolating upon her Finite Mathematics textbooks. Studying in the sun can make SUCH a difference. Nothing is falling apart. There is asbestos nowhere.
  1. Act the part. You brain is a muscle yearning for the fruit of knowledge. Your heart hungers to learn, search, explore, master. You have a bag full of books containing an infinite amount of unknown facts waiting to be known. You have a mission. You matter. YOU ARE VERY IMPORTANT. NOW GET OUT THERE AND LEARN SOMETHING.

In summary, Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘learning’ as “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught.” There is literally NOTHING bad about that definition. Not one thing! That being said, just like ‘working out,’ it’s really up to YOU to make learning fun instead of painstakingly boring. I mean, you could be one of those dudes that’s constantly grunting at the gym while repetitively lifting a giant piece of metal over and over to exhaustion…OR you could take a super fun Beyoncification class and DANCE yourself into a frenzied sweat! Similarly, you could lock yourself in your bedroom, studying until the crack of dawn like a crazy mole child who’s never seen the light of day, or you could swagger over to your fave Starbucks with your friends, and study in style. It’s really up to you. Do you want to be Beyonce? Or a MOLE CHILD???

So here we are. It’s March break. I’m on a beach. And I’m reading academic journal articles FOR THE FUN OF IT. Attribution theory and girls’ attitudes about math? Can’t wait to hear more. Parents’ influence on children’s gender roles? Hit me up. The correlation between gendered toys and math anxiety? PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT IT.  Learning is something I miss when I don’t allocate time for it, and now on March Break, when most of you are taking a ‘break from learning,’ I am happily soaking up new information at the speed that my SPF-15 covered skin (not enough, I know, sorry mom!) is soaking up the rays. I only hope that you can use some of this advice to find a way to fall in love with learning as I have – it will change your life. And for those of you legit watching me right now to the left – yes you three who have been taking selfies for like, 2+ hours – stop adding me to your “losers at the beach” snapchat story and go read a book. Posers.

xoxo