Looking beyond reference books

Looking beyond reference books

Students and parents alike want to possess all the study materials possible and do not want to leave any stone unturned for lack of information. A student of classes 10th to 12th will often possess five to six different reference materials in any subject apart from their regular text and tuition.

All the reference material that is present in these books are largely the same but packaged differently in varying sizes and brands, with some more expensively priced than the other. The notion is that if you study from an expensive book, you are bound to get most of the questions from that book. 

When a lesson is taught in the class, a student might open one reference book. The student will notice that the topic has been dealt in a novel way and they may take a look at another to see how they have dealt with the same topic. Take for example, the preparation of calcium hydroxide. The prescribed textbook in school bluntly puts it an addition of quick lime to water, which forms slaked lime with the liberation of large amount of heat. It is an exothermic reaction. One reference book states that “an example of exothermic reaction is...” and another says, “water is one of the reactants in ...”. Although both say the same thing, students get lost and mesmerised in the word web of the books. Rather than making the concept clearer, it helps them in memorising a concept.

Coming to mathematics or numerical of any subject is still worse, they want to solve the sums of the same type rather than venturing to different types of problems. Is this not mere waste of time?

Parents will be under the impression that they have given their child the best they can besides sending them to tuitions. The same thing has been already dealt with (not learnt of course) in the tuitions, and he is up to show his expertise in the topic by asking cross-questions.

Paid helping hands?

Can we consider reference materials as paid helping hands? Definitely not. The reason is that a helping hand is one which leads you through the path safely, but in this case one has to clasp the fingers with the material, not letting it go. If at all there is a helping hand it is the textbook and the teacher. A good teacher knows where the student stands with
prior knowledge and understanding capacity.

There is no harm in referring to books. Instead of many books for reference, we could buy only one  to seek clarification. They could even learn to read between the lines. There will be a concept break or a gap that need to be bridged for thorough understanding of the concept. The gap is given for the students to recall, recollect from their prior lessons or the previous year concepts.

If they feel the concept is not becoming clear then they should refer to the previous section or the same chapter of previous years. Before starting to study the chapter in hand, they should always brush their memory of the topic, which has been taught to them previously.

Tutions are only supplements the learning but cannot subsititute the teacher and classroom interaction. As the span of concentration is limited in a child, there is no point in blaming them for not concentrating in class or not answering the question.

Going through many reference materials is like amassing wealth in the bank and feeling proud or satisfied looking at the bank balance. Unless it has been withdrawn and used properly, it is as good as not having it. When the application level in the so called Higher Order Thinking (HOT) questions are asked, the child is in a soup. The amassed knowledge cannot be encashed in terms of marks.

Reaching out for help

A student who needs help should seek help. He needs only a stretched finger for support not the tight clasp or grip. So, it is an appeal to parents not to force the child to tuition or buy the material just because they can afford it.

Instead supervise his or her studies. There is no need for the parent to understand the topic. Once a concept has been understood and grasped properly, the child’s command of the topic has increased. When intelligence matures and lodges securely in the heart, it becomes wisdom which is then integrated into life.

Allow time for them to process knowledge to intelligence. This will allow them to answer any HOT question and develop devotion to studies. As a result, the student will be more confident in how they approach the topic and not take the shorter route to success.

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