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Teacher Feature: How to learn difficult things you don’t want to!

4th April 2014

Celtic School teachers are friendly, fun, and well-travelled. They always have interesting stories to tell and great advice to give our students. We are excited to annouce that our teachers will now be sharing their thoughts on the Celtic School Blog!

Please enjoy our first ‘Teacher Feature’ post written by our very own Claire Perrin:

How to learn difficult things you don’t want to!

brain2When I was in the last year of junior school I was struggling at maths. I had been the top of the class until then. Our class was introduced to long division – a complicated way of dividing really long numbers. I didn’t understand it. I also couldn’t quite understand how it made anything any easier. I began to question why we were being taught something that I felt I wouldn’t need, probably wouldn’t use and definitely didn’t like. So I didn’t learn it. Of course, I failed that part of the test and it really affected my final score. I also lost a little confidence in myself. I soon realised that often in life we have to learn something we just don’t really want to!

One day, our teacher was absent and we went into a different class. Our new teacher listened to our concerns. The teacher’s name was Mr Cosh and I have always remembered him. In fact, he was the most influential person of my youth. Seeing that we were struggling with the subject, he scanned the room only to see his class bored, confused and disinterested. Some of us had started chatting, others had their heads on their fists staring into space. What did he do? Did he insist that we concentrated? Did he go over and over the rules to make sure we learnt it? No. He grabbed a glove and a ball and said, “Anyone fancy a game of baseball?”


Sometimes, it’s good to revisit something difficult after a break from it. I learnt that from Mr Cosh. He was a great teacher. His positive attitude towards teaching and learning is something that I have always remembered and always try to be influenced by as a teacher at Celtic school. My aim is to try to get my students to deliver their best.
Like Mr.Cosh, I use a variety of ways to make sure that my students are interested, enjoying the lesson, motivated and most of all happy. Personally, I believe that being happy is a great starting point! When we’re happy, good things happen.

When Mr.Cosh noticed his students had tried their best but still needed more time and had stopped being happy, motivated and interested he made us take a break from it. He didn’t stop teaching it. He didn’t tell us that we didn’t need the rule, or tell us not to worry because it was just one aspect of the course. He told us that sometimes we have to learn things we don’t like. And when that happens we should find a new way to learn the same thing.

When we returned to the class we were as fresh as daisies. We had more energy to listen and our teacher broke down the problem again – this time in a totally different way. We compared the whole lesson to the game of baseball we’d just played. We divided the teams and scores and worked out the averages based on our performance.

We did some long division understanding why it was necessary to learn it this time. We had thought about the whole thing differently and that had helped us learn the same thing – in a new way.

I think this is a great strategy for learning all new things, but especially things we at first find difficult. Sometimes it can be tempting to think that it’s easier to ignore a grammar rule that’s difficult or stop trying to use new vocabulary. But with a positive attitude and a belief that sometimes you have to try a different strategy to learning, I believe that all things are possible.


But the best quote that explains this didn’t come from Mr Cosh or me! It began with Benjamin Franklin who once said, “Only a fool does the same thing over and over expecting the same results.”

So shake it up! Try a new approach. Try something new or different. Read different books. Listen to a different radio station. Try the conversation cafe at Celtic – meet new people and talk about different things! Visit the Grammar Doctor at Celtic. Get involved with the student activity programme even if none of your friends are going – you might meet new friends. Ask for help and try your best and when all else fails, take a break or maybe play baseball!

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