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How to Master a Subject

At Self Development charter school, we talk a lot about our students cultivating a love for knowledge and becoming lifelong learners. As parents, that’s a noble cause we can all get behind, but our paths to get to this parental objective are varied and diverse. Were you educated in a public, private, or charter school? Beyond the institutions of education, do you enjoy learning about subjects that are new to you? Have you worked hard to make a living that you are proud of? Can you see how continuing education benefits your professional, social, and personal life?

It’s never too late to become a lifelong learner, no matter our occupations, our achievements, or our demanding schedules. At SDA, our job is to educate your children, but our passion is to help everyone we come in contact with to love the pursuit of knowledge.

According to Nobel-prize winning physicist Richard Feynman, you can master any subject using a technique that he created. Are you up for it?

We encourage you to find a subject that interests you but that you don’t know much about. Is your eighth grader stumping you with Shakespeare, and you wish you could really appreciate it? Have you always been fascinated with nightingales? What is something that piques your interest? The sky is the limit -- or the horizontal asymptote (analytic geometry, anyone?)

Follow these simple steps to master a subject:

  1. Write out the idea. As you’re learning about your subject, write a teaching plan as if you were teaching it to a child. Leave out the complicated jargon and instead use everyday words that capture the details and the meaning behind what you’re teaching.
  2. Acknowledge the gaps in your lesson plan. Once you’ve written out your subject, go back through it to find holes in your explanation, things that don’t make complete sense to you, and any points of confusion. Then find the answers and the clarification for yourself, before you update your lesson plan.
  3. Read your lesson plan out loud and practice as if you were a teacher preparing for a lesson. This will help you organize and simplify to find the most succinct and impactful lecture on your subject. It also continues to drive the subject home as you master it.
  4. Find a real student and teach. If your subject matter isn’t the right fit for your child(ren), find someone who shares your interest and present your lesson. You’ve worked hard, and you deserve to be heard! By the end of this process, you will be familiar with not only your subject, but the process of mastering any piece of knowledge.

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