B. S. WARRIER
Assessing your aptitude is a key element in the process of determining your goals and trying to achieve them.
Education has several noble and lofty goals. However, for most of us the vital goal is identifying a career that would offer us an early job. Our educational endeavour would most probably pivot on this prime goal. It is true that many of us choose a course of study quite impulsively in a random fashion. Perhaps you have in mind the success story of a person who had rare accomplishment in a particular stream. Sometimes a parent nurtures an unfulfilled childhood dream in the matter of education and career. He may push his son or daughter into that dream, not considering the important factors to be taken into account before a stream is decided for a particular student. The aptitude of the student, though a prime criterion in course selection, is often ignored. Aptitude is sometimes defined as an individual's ability to learn or to develop proficiency easily and quickly in an area, if provided with appropriate education or training. Perhaps it is better to label it as a combination of native abilities and other characteristics. Digital dexterity, musical ability, spatial visualisation, drawing skills and affinity for numbers are good examples. Aptitude indicates a pattern of your strengths and weaknesses.Other important factors in course identification are the student's learning ability, the financial position of the family, proximity of the institution from his home, the gender factor, opportunities for higher education, duration of the course and quick employability. Each one of these factors has to be analysed in detail before arriving at the best option. Subjecting yourself to a scientific aptitude test would help you in knowing what kind of course would suit you. However, a convenient method for your self-discovery as a student is checking a wide variety of statements like those given below. The statements are indicative and not exhaustive. The responses may be made on a five-point scale: a) Always true, b) Quite often true, c) Sometimes true, d) Very rarely true and, e) Never true I study with total concentration, even in a disturbing atmosphere. If I listen to the classroom lecture, I need not study that lesson again by myself. I make lecture notes meticulously. I have some difficulty in answering essay questions for want of language skills. I love numerical work. I make full use of the school library. Science is difficult for me, since I hate drawing sketches. It is easy for me to learn poems by heart. When I read an essay, I look for significant points and note them down immediately. I find it difficult to stand up and speak something when there are more than two or three listeners. I have a clear picture of my goals in life. I try to convert failures as opportunities for success. I think values are important in life. I prepare a timetable for my studies, and follow it strictly. When I come across a new word as I read a textbook, I refer to a dictionary immediately. I feel I can shine in any profession, since I am hardworking by nature. I like taking up difficult projects; they give me satisfaction when they are completed. I develop good personal relationships with people. I believe in a few close friends and many fine acquaintances. I enjoy learning; it is never drudgery for me. It is not necessary for me to take breaks during my learning. Without computers I cannot write an essay or a report, since I need a machine that gives automatic spell check and grammar check. I cannot tolerate friends who argue with me on methods of study. If a lecturer makes an error in language, I find it hard to listen to him further. I do not learn essays by heart and reproduce them in the examination papers. Instead I learn the points and write essays in my own words, keeping technical words intact. I read newspapers regularly and keep notes on important events, people, and places. I focus on numbers and other specifics. I enjoy challenges, even if I do not know how I would face them. I can evolve my own solutions. I am not short of time, since I budget my time wisely.
After each test or examination, I analyse my errors and plan strategies to avoid them in future. I take full responsibility of my studies, even though my parents and teachers are there to guide me. I frequently review what I learnt earlier, and revise portions that do not come to my memory easily. I make markings in my textbooks by underlining, highlighting, etc., so that I can easily revise the lessons just before examination. I enjoy comparing the treatment in textbooks written by different authors on the same subject for the same class. Before I start writing an essay, I list the points logically and then expand each one of them. Success in learning can be achieved by intelligent integration of learning in the school and learning by myself at home. I am not satisfied with the first draft of an essay; I believe in revising it for clarity, precision, and appealing language. Learning with full concentration for a short period is more effective than learning for a longer duration with interruptions and rambling thoughts. Keeping sound health is essential for maintaining efficiency in learning. Games and other forms of recreation give me freshness to do my work with efficiency. When a teacher gives a deadline for submitting an assignment and I find that I do not have time to finish it on time, I do not copy from what my friends have prepared. If I do not understand very well what the teacher says in the class, I have no hesitation in requesting the teacher to clarify the related points. I try to sketch all diagrams from memory, while learning science subjects. I solve numerical problems independently without reference to textbooks so as to ensure that I face no difficulty in this exercise in the examination hall. If I score poorly in a test, I do not get upset. Instead I analyse my drawbacks and correct them. I regularly update my knowledge of current affairs, and learn elements of conventional general knowledge that is not usually found in school textbooks. I try to master examination techniques, as otherwise my efforts to learn will come to nought from the point of view of securing academic qualifications of quality. I feel that keeping a calm and composed demeanour in the examination hall is essential if I should perform well. Listening to others is an essential part of good communication. I take particular care to write clear notes on any new development in my favourite subjects of study. I keep a diary of charming expressions, great thoughts, and quotations from great men. If I have to speak before an audience even for a few minutes, I take care to plan my points and phrases carefully. I modify my goals frequently in the light of emerging situations. I prepare to-do lists, so as to ensure that I do not forget any important work.
Self-confidence is the most essential ingredient in any successful educational endeavour.You must have noted that these are random points. But if you write down your response to each one of these statements and analyse the list, you will gradually draw an objective picture of yourself. Further, you may prepare more of similar significant statements and your responses to each one of them.Your objective is to get a true picture of yours, as a first step for knowing what kind of person you are. It is based on this specific knowledge that you can draw up your goals and proceed further through the right path to higher education and career success.Archived columns by the author can be accessed at www.hindu.com/edu