Conference, Pedagogy, and Being Busy

Dear Ben,

I know I have not written recently.

Some exciting opportunities have come my way.

I have been off chasing them.

I hope you are doing well. How did that boat trip go in April?

I just love boats and the water.

I could not think about you without a tinge of covetousness.

Let me go ahead and tell you what has been filling my time and thoughts recently.

International Congress on Medieval Studies

Academia is about taking the raw materials of facts and data and turning them into the brilliant sculpture of argument and conviction. Click To Tweet

I went to a conference in Medieval Studies!

My background is in Early Christian literature, as you know.

I went on behalf of the publisher I work for.

Conferences are such a marvelous environment.

Being surrounded by learning ad scholars is empowering and inspirational.

I love to cut deep into topics while respecting their general value.

All learning needs the safe environment of the conference to try out new ideas and say “unpublishable” things.

Academia is not just learning, but speaking.

It is about taking the raw materials of facts and data and turning them into the brilliant sculpture of argument and conviction.

I really felt that I re-found my voice while I was there.

I also got some interesting books.

  1. Commentary on the Psalms by Jerome (Latin)
  2. Life of Saint Alexis (Old French)
  3. A Roman Women Reader (Latin)
  4. Life of Simeon Stylites
  5. Early Christian Hagiography
  6. Giving Reason
  7. A Rulebook for Arguments
  8. The Annotated Hobbit

Pedagogy of Going Deep

When he comes to me with his questions and concerns, the knowledge he acquires from my feedback will be twice as valuable and connect with him. Click To Tweet

I am going to be teaching a few courses this summer! I am so excited and cannot wait to tell you more about it!

Right now, however, I am in a course for teachers.

This has really gotten me thinking about how to teach.

Going deep is so vital, especially to avoid boredom or shallow knowledge.

I believe the best way to create depth is by making the topic the student’s own.

In a class, you learn about a topic and you get the general overview.

Then comes the magic.

Now the student can work within that new enlarged world of knowledge.

He can discover new things and use new pieces of knowledge within this world.

For example, if I were to teach about the rise of sensibility in the 18th century, I would then offer my students the opportunity to write in the style or show me how to enliven an existing texts with the hallmark tropes of sensibility.

The student is now using the knowledge he just acquired.

In so doing, he will come up with questions and problems.

When he comes to me with his questions and concerns, the knowledge he acquires from my feedback will be twice as valuable and connect with him.

I would rather go deep through questions and problems than just by me talking more.

“I’m busy”

In reading and absorbing myself in historical literature, I have remembered that life did not always run at hypersonic speed. Click To Tweet

So may people have noticed that this seems to be the busiest generation that has ever been.

Hustling and rushing is the norm.

Working for hours on end is expected.

In reading and absorbing myself in historical literature, I have remembered that life did not always run at hypersonic speed.

A desire to regain the peace and quality of this “simpler” life welled up in me.

I am going about this from two perspectives.

1) The sound of silence. A few weeks ago I did a “Dana Girls Week.”

I stopped watching TV, though I allowed myself “radio” in the form of podcasts.

Neil Gaiman gave a great nugget of advice in his Tim Ferriss interview: “write or do nothing.”

This is how my week went.

I wrote or did nothing.

I could hear myself think and found myself less pressured to perform.

Since then I have greatly reduced time on Youtube and have regained much of the peace gained from the experience.

2) Instead of just saying “I’m busy,” I try to define exactly what I am doing.

When I put into words what I am doing, it gives me perspective.

Maybe I am not as busy as I think, or maybe my list is too long and I need to cut down.

Either way it gives me something profitable to say instead of just “busy,” like that is an achievement in and of itself.

I have only scratched the surface.

I do hope to renew our regular conversations as to not let too much time elapse again.

Thank you,

Maria

What This Week Taught Me

Another week has passed. I am keeping it short this week. I will discuss rediscovering some old books, The Dana Girl Mysteries, and more on critical thinking in reading comprehension.

The Dana Girls

Mysteries are fantastic tools in developing critical thinking in children! Click To Tweet

I love a good mystery.

I’m an avid Murder She Wrote watcher and a total Psych-O (from the show Psych).

When I was a young girl, I enjoyed a book series called the Dana Girls Mysteries.

They were written by the same team of authors as the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries.

The Dana Girls are now out of print and won’t make it to the silver screen anytime soon, but a worthy read nonetheless.

Written in the 1930s, they have a different style than our modern children books.

The vocabulary is better and the turn of phrase more astute. A small example:

“On the still December air floated the notes of a plaintive whistling in a minor strain. It was not the warbling of a bird, nor did it seem like that of a human being.”

In the Shadow of the Tower, p. 1

Good literature is easy to find; I am not in doubt.

These are just so accessible and short.

You get all the eloquence of a bygone era in an action-packed mystery for children.

Why am I telling you?

Well I went to a used bookstore the other day.

Whenever I go to one, I always ask if they have The Dana Girls.

This time they actually said yes. I was dumbfounded.

We bought a whole bunch. I’ve been reading through them with great pleasure.

The Dana Girls, Nancy Drew, and The Hardy Boys (original books, not modern ones) are great reads for Middle Schoolers and early High School kids.

They are very easy to read, but also introduce the student to uncommon vocabulary and an older style of talking.

Not to mention, mysteries are fantastic tools in developing critical thinking in children!

Fact vs. Opinion

This deeper thinking about how people say things and not just what they say plays a big role in comprehension. Click To Tweet

I want to continue to discuss with you my thoughts about critical thinking in reading comprehension.

Read the first part of the discussion here!

This week I turned my attention to fact versus opinion.

I am a huge fan of The Thinking Toolbox by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn

They have very fun dialogs and exercises to help you get thinking about thinking! 😉

There is not just fact and opinion but also inference.

I found this middle step was the hardest.

A statement of fact is any statement about something which can be directly observed by others or checked for accuracy.

Inferring is a logical conclusion made from verifiable fact.

Opinion is a statement of inference that is not entirely facts.

The Thinking Toolbox, Lesson 4

We went through the different exercises and examples.

I realized often it came down to the tone of the words.

Did the writer sound authoritative?

Did he add something extra, using such language as “must have,” “inevitably,” “probably?”

You can say the same thing but in completely different ways.

That colors the meaning.

This deeper thinking about how people say things and not just what they say plays a big role in comprehension.


This week’s post is shorter.

I have a secret project I am working on that I am excited to share with you soon.

Stay tuned and subscribe in order not to miss anything!

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Child’s Writing

Spring is in the air! We all are eager to get at spring cleaning, but should our kids “spring clean” their writing? Here I mention 5 ways to clean up their writing.


Read Older Writings

Take an hour to read what your child wrote this past year. Click To Tweet

Take an hour to read what your child wrote this past year.

What patterns do you notice?

Has the writing improved?

Has the length increased?

Use these questions to guide how you will approach helping your child improve.

Suggest New Readings

If you notice some stagnation in their writing, maybe give your child some new books.

Educational books or literary ones can spark new and better writing.

After they read one of their new books, have a discussion with them.

See what observations or opinions your child has.

Maybe some of these could be written down just for fun and good practice.

Write From a Wacky Perspective

Go on a walk with your child.

Ask them what it would be like to view the world as an ant.

How would everything look different?

Would it be easy or hard?

How would the ant get food or stay safe?

Then ask them to write about this.

Some other wacky perspectives:

  • Life as a fork
  • If our fingers could talk
  • Wake up on the other side of the world
  • Life as a fish in a fish tank at the dentist’s office

No More of This For a Whole Day.

Bad little habits will subside after they intentionally try not to say it for a day. Click To Tweet

This can be done through talking or writing.

Tell your child they cannot say a certain word for the entire day, maybe “is” or “like.”

It needs to be a problem word that they overuse.

For one day they will be thinking so hard about how they talk.

Bad little habits will subside after they intentionally try not to say it for a day. Just watch!

Find a Tutor

Maybe after this process, you have realized that your child has some big issues writing.

You worry that they are not doing well enough.

Many people have been in your shoes.

Help is available!

You can find a tutor in your area or online to help your child write better.

I myself am here to help your child write better.

Send me an email today and set up a free mini-lesson to get your child the help they deserve.

I promise I will reply within 24 hours.


We all are eager to get at spring cleaning, but should our kids “spring clean” their writing? Click To Tweet

In exchange for doing any of these exercises, you can give your child a reward.

I, however, encourage you to remind your kids that good writing is its own reward.

Being able to describe the world around us and convey information is a true gift.

There is a lot of joy from working hard in school.

👇🏻Check out this video about work as its own reward. 👇🏻

What This Week Taught Me

Another week has passed! March is over! Here I will discuss visiting my student, reviewing the book Excellent Sheep, and thinking about reading comprehension and critical thinking.


I appreciate your patience as I have been away much longer than planned.

I got sick again and did some traveling.

Those are not excuses.

Overcoming circumstances has been a major goal for me this year.

I want to be able to get things done regardless of the unexpected occurrences that come up.

Thomas Frank mentioned even putting money on the line to force yourself, but I am not ready to do that yet (link).

Visiting a Student

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit a student of mine!

A long time ago, I actually did in-person tutoring, but since then I have remained physically distant from the lovely students I get to teach.

The experience was wonderful!

It is such a privilege to be welcomed into someone’s home.

All teachers see their students in their lessons, but to cross that threshold into the home is not to be taken for granted.

My student’s personality shined in many settings and scenarios within the comfort of her own day-to-day life.

Those moments that either reminded me of a lesson or taught me something new about her were so enlightening and enjoyable.

We went to several places.

Those experiences were educational because I found all these little teachable moments.

However, I also learned more about her and how my teachings were fitting into her thinking and life.

Some can say that a big disadvantage to working online is the lack of human contact and “living behind a screen.”

I won’t debate that here.

I can say that connecting with my student was a joy, and I came home refreshed and more passionate than I have been in a long while.

Thank you to her and her family for that!

Excellent Sheep

During my visit, I was introduced to a few new books.

The book Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz stood out to me.

I want to share some of my thoughts and findings about it.

Now, at face value, this not a book for an English tutor of Middle and High School students.

However, I am always thinking about the future for my students and how they can prepare now.

a. The Role of the University

I agree with his thesis that Ivy league schools are not serving us today and are not the answer to success.

He correctly asserts that it is more beneficial to learn how to learn than to gain a diploma.

He lays out the role of the university in the process of learning and growing as a person:

“To put it in the language of computers, you can download all the data you want, but it won’t be any good to you unless you have the software to make use of it. That software, the ability to operate on information—to understand it, to synthesize it into new combinations, to discover and create with it—is what college is meant to ‘install.'”

(p. 174)

b. Student burnout

I found his description of student burnout and overwhelm to be particularly moving.

He painted this picture of the student who does everything asked of him but has no inner voice or life path.

Students were encouraged to rise above the white noise of “what you must do” to find what your own voice is saying to you.

He writes:

“To find yourself, you first must free yourself. You won’t be able to recognize the things you really care about until you have released your grip on all the things that you’ve been taught to care about. And we already know, in the case of today’s young high achievers, what those are.”

(p. 90)

On the other hand, he had the difficult job of telling the reader that not every student is equally worthy to be in college.

More importantly, their perceived worth does not equate with reality.

In a marvelous anecdote about the old days at Yale, he quotes a man who mapped the change in the welcome speeches given to the freshmen.

In 1957, the speech encouraged the student to try because he was chosen among a very few:

“It was the duty of each of us over the next four years to prove that Yale had made the right choice by picking us instead of giving our place to someone else.”

(p. 213)

By 1969, the speech turned into a laudation of each student before they had even done anything.

Wouldn’t we be the wiser for humbling our students before they set out so they can feel a sense of deserving their achievements?

c. Teachers Transform

Lastly, he answers what is the difference between colleges and just on your own book-learning: the teacher.

Teachers need to be truly present — adding in their own experiences and stories into the content (p. 179).

A real teacher is a real person. We can read, but a teacher transforms.

This was a poignant reminder for me.

Crossroads Between Comprehension and Critical Thinking

I have been thinking about the crossroads between reading comprehension and critical thinking.

Now, let me say, I am writing to you at the beginning of my search to articulate this and not at the end.

Stay tuned for something more concrete; in the meantime, just enjoy the ride.

As adults, we take so much of reading comprehension for granted.

Holding all the details in our mind and picking up on subtleties is second nature.

For young students, though, this can often be so hard.

Reading is the cornerstone of writing so this is very important to me.

I want to get to the bottom of it.

I found, when I read with my students, the questions would be part of the problem.

“Who?” or “what?” was a no brainer, but taking it a step further resulted in confusion or shallow answers.

Thinking and reading go hand and hand.

Not just any kind of thinking, but critical thinking.

When I was in college, we did a lot of analyzing of texts.

We found patterns and arguments like prizes inside cereal boxes.

It was the hunt and we were equipped with the tools.

Now I am bringing this into all my lessons.

Temporarily, I have stopped just reading and writing with my students.

We are learning how to think better.

It is going well.

More on this topic to come.

Here are some books I have been consulting or planning to read.

Thank you for reading! Until next week!

What This Week Taught Me

Another week has passed! It is now March! Here I will discuss effective questions, importance of a schedule, and confidence.


Always Know the Answer to the Question

Recently, I have been reminded of the power of asking questions when you already know the answer. Click To Tweet

There are many kinds of questions in this world.

Some are to learn more information in the first place — Where is he?! Why did you do that?

However, others are to further your understanding — Why did you come home at 5 instead of 6?

Lastly, yet other questions are largely rhetorical and aid the speaker in discussing more about the topic — Why should we care about the pollination process?

Recently, I have been reminded of the power of asking questions when you already know the answer or, at least, half of it.

I am writing an essay with a student.

He knows a lot about the topic, but cannot seem to get it onto the page.

I remind him that he needs to use questions to pull more information out.

These particular questions are deliberate.

He needs to practice the art of question asking and expending his thoughts at the same time.

Let us use an essay on Benjamin Franklin as an example.

The student has already written down all the basic details of Benjamin Franklin’s life.

He has a basic outline, putting special attention onto Franklin’s role in the Revolutionary War.

I know my student knows more and has read more. I want to pull that out of him.

This question is not so much out of curiosity as it is pushing the writer to write more about what he already knows. Click To Tweet

Here is what I will say to him:

Benjamin Franklin convinced the French to give money and support to America.

  • How and why did this negotiation initiate?
  • Why was Franklin more effective in this negotiation than John Adams?
  • In what ways did France’s aid help win America the war?
From Benjamin Franklin Historical Society

Reaching past the one-word response, I encourage him to craft a question that will result in a short answer.

Importantly, the question itself contains details and information from his reading.

This question is not so much out of curiosity as it is pushing the writer to write more about what he already knows.

This technique has proved effective.

Scheduling

We all need a plan and a schedule.

The better your schedule, the freer you are to focus on what matters and what you have yet even to discover. Click To Tweet

For most students, this is done for them by parents and teachers.

When students reach high school, they are encouraged to begin to take that task on for themselves.

A student of mine cannot stop using the words “work” and “hassle” whenever I discuss organizing his time.

He is right.

Organization is work and is a hassle.

I have found myself spending more time talking about the long term benefits of this way of life than even about the process itself.

Sure, right now everything is manageable, but later the demands will be heavier.

At the end of the day, though, I want students to stay organized so that they can see school as more than just homework.

School is where you learn skills and find your intellectual passions.

The more you worry over how and when you will get even the minimum done, the more you cannot appreciate the task and process itself.

If you want to do more than the minimum, such as competitions, camps, extra courses, and book reading, then improving your schedule is the place to start.

The better your schedule, the freer you are to focus on what matters and what you have yet even to discover.

Confidence

What holds us back from reaching our desired heights of success is confidence. Click To Tweet

Putting words on the internet takes a lot of courage.

So does writing essays and excelling in math.

What holds us back from reaching our desired heights of success is confidence.

Even if you cannot feel the confidence running through you, you can still manufacture it in the meantime.

Project confidence. You will see how that transforms your work and your life.

I made a video on this topic, check it out.


I write these reflections so that you can take a look into my lessons.

Lessons take place every week and I learn new things from and for my students!

It is a thrill.

If you want to be a part of this process, why not book a free mini-lesson today?

Why it is Wrong Not to Teach Online

So, obviously the title is a little dramatic, but it got you here. 😉 In this post, I will discuss why it is right to teach online and use technology to our advantage.


Wider Audience

The careful balance of home comforts and outside adventure is best met through working online with people from different places. Click To Tweet

The world is only getting smaller.

Teaching online allows you to reach a much wider audience — kids in Korea, college students in Canada, retirees in Romania, and so on.

This keeps the adventure alive in teaching but also in your life.

Meeting and interacting with people of different backgrounds can be very enlightening and rewarding.

On the other hand, going away from home, even just through a computer, can also help you appreciate your own home more.

The careful balance of home comforts and outside adventure is best met through working online with people from different places.

Portability

I went into online teaching for the portability.

I wanted to be able to travel and keep my own schedule while still teaching.

Working online gives you freedom through portability.

This does not mean you need to live in another country, like I did in Russia, but you can travel with your work.

You can take a week at a B&B or visit your sick aunt, but not sacrifice your job or paycheck.

Convenience

A cup of nice herbal tea next to a computer laptop
Teaching online takes the barriers and hardships away from getting to the students themselves. Click To Tweet

You appreciate this convenience most when the weather is bad.

Snow is on the ground and it is way below freezing, but I sit in my warm home office with no intention of leaving the house.

Convenience comes in other forms.

You are always in touch with your students and files through Skype and cloud storage.

So many times, my students have written me while I am at the store or about to go to a movie.

I can pull up their homework on my phone and type a reply immediately.

Teaching online takes the barriers and hardships away from getting to the students themselves.

Digital Resources

Learning goes from presentation to interaction with live feedback. Click To Tweet

I could write a whole blogpost just on this.

Oh wait, I did!

Here, I just want to say that technology allows you to have live feedback.

In a classroom, you can present something and the students can work on projects, but online teaching can go a step further.

Everyone can share a board/canvas.

We can work on the same Google Doc or draw on the same digital board.

Learning goes from presentation to interaction with live feedback.

It is an exciting and fun way to learn.

Appeal to the Modern Child

By teaching online you meet the student in a modern arena, in which they are already comfortable. Click To Tweet
Boy accessing futuristic entertainment applications

It is undeniable the world is becoming more digital and technological.

Today’s kids know nothing else but a world filled with technology.

By teaching online you meet the student in a modern arena, in which they are already comfortable.

Taking their technological knowledge and showing them how they can use it to learn better will give them modern skills for the modern world.

Technology used beneficially and responsibly is our gift to young students today. How better to do that than through teaching online.


This is by no means the end of the conversation.

Here I just touched briefly on each header.

In the future, I would like to take each of these in their turn in order to delve deeper.

This is an important conversation for me to have with you because I am an online tutor.

I know that teaching online is one of the best mediums to connect with students and get the results they want and need.

Reap the benefits today and book a mini-lesson with me!

What This Week Taught Me

I reflect on my week — resting, proofreading opportunities, and how to begin the research process with Wikipedia.


Rest

This week I was sick.

It was one of those colds that brewed under the surface for a year in order to give the biggest punch once it surfaced. My dramatic flare is warranted after how much it messed up my schedule.

That, however, was a blessing in disguise.

It gave me a chance to slow down and not jump the gun.

I am not the most patient of people, so it was a forced slowdown.

Proofreading

I truly believe having your work edited is the best form of writing education for anyone. Click To Tweet

I have been working on something behind the scenes, this week I was able to truly debut it.

I began to offer proofreading services.

Although I believe most students and young professionals can benefit from it, I am most eager to help non-native speakers edit their English.

I learned English grammar through having my work edited.

I truly believe it is the best form of writing education for anyone.

Wikipedia

Helping young students learn how to research is a great joy.

My background is in Medieval Studies, so plowing through bibliographies and keyword searches excites me.

We all have been warned not to cite Wikipedia as a source.

Helping young students learn how to research is a great joy. Click To Tweet

Any Tom, Dick, or Harry can write on there.

That said, I am a huge proponent of using Wikipedia at the beginning of the process. Just this week I discussed this with a student.

Wikipedia can provide you with a general overview of the topic, keywords, and helpful links.

If you know nothing about the topic, read the Wikipedia article on it. Learn the keywords attached to the topic.

Then, at the bottom, read the external links section to start out your search.

When you return to Google Search, you will be equipped with general knowledge and terminology that will speed up your search time.

Start with Wikipedia but end with reliable .edu/.org sources!

Start with Wikipedia but end with reliable .edu/.org sources! Click To Tweet

This week was a bit unusual but such a blessing.

See you next week!

What This Week Taught Me

This week (February 16 – 23, 2018) I am thinking about connecting phrases, reading in context, and passion. Join me!


I truly feel like starting this off by saying “I’m back.”

“Fell off the planet” is dramatic, but I did spend five months in Russia and focused on other projects.

Now I am back and ready to write.

I am starting a new series.

I want to take you along with me each week.

You can see what I discover and am thinking about.

If something sparks your interest, then don’t be shy!

Leave a comment or write me an email.

Here we go!

This week I thought about

1.Connecting phrases

Sometimes, we take things for granted.

Make that, we often take things for granted.

Since we tend to communicate through conversations, the essay style can be jarring.

When we talk in a conversation, the other person can follow our train of thought.

However, when my student faces the blank page, he is forced to play both sides and write understandably.

With my young students, I find they put two thoughts beside each other without any glue.

Consider, two best friends sit beside each other.

In the first scenario, they do not interact or even look at each other.

You know they are friends, but there is no visible proof.

In the second scenario, they laugh together and lean in on each other, blurring the line between them.

Which is better?

The same is true for thoughts.

We want to see their connection.

I have always known this, but I was encouraged to see the mechanics behind it this week.

Example:

I hate writing. I took a course, and I am now a writer.

Initially, I hated writing. After I took a course in it, I fell in love. Now, I am a writer.

Read about how to write descriptive scenes with your Middle Schooler here!

2. Context while reading

As a Latin teacher, I read with my students every session.

The reading always goes better the more they engage with the passage.

If they are following what Quintus is doing, then they read effortlessly.

They become superheroes and even read words they have never seen before.

How?

They read in context.

When they reach a new word, they consider everything around it.

Cheesy example in 3…2…1…

I am so [apple] to see you today.

Wait, I think I put the wrong word in, but I am sure a student of mine could correct that. 😉

My students that actively consider cognates and context always read amazingly.

Remember this, if you find yourself reading in a foreign language this week.

For more on Latin for beginners read: How to Understand Latin Through the Eyes of English Speakers

3. Passion

You will soon learn that I am a huge fan of Mel Robbins and self-improvement books.

For this last slot, I wanted to put the spotlight on passion.

We all believe that “our passion” is a thing inside of us.

It is something we can lose or gain.

We could take it on a walk even.

However, Mel Robbins shatters that.

She recasts passion as energy and excitement.

Our greatest interests give us excitement.

When I sit down to write in Russian, I am energized.

Russian is my passion, but that passion is not a thing, it’s a force.

I cannot lose it.

If I get discouraged about Russian, for example, I feel I lost my “passion.”

In actuality, I lost my energy.

Energy can be refilled or repositioned.

My power is my passion.

However, my passion is formless energy projected onto what excites us most at the moment.

I offer you all my passion.

Not because I dreamed my entire life of doing this, but because I am energized.

I am eager to bring you new strategies and tips to help you or your child succeed.

If you enjoyed this and want more, be sure to subscribe!

Perfectionism

You arrive at the airport.

Your ticket says you will take off at 3:30pm.

At the gate, you hear the announcement, “The pilot does not feel it is the absolute perfect time to fly. Since he is still waiting for the best conditions ever known to man and the perfect frame of mind, we are forced to cancel the flight.”

Now, would it not have been better for the flight to have taken off nearly perfectly rather than not at all?

Well, students find themselves in the pilot’s seat of their own life, struggling with perfection.

Here I want to discuss perfectionism and how to work past unhealthy perfectionism.

Students find themselves in the pilot’s seat of their own life, struggling with perfection. Click To Tweet

The thirst for perfection comes from a number of different causes: fear, desire for good grades, obsessiveness, and a high standard of knowledge.

There is both a good and bad side to it.

Healthy Perfectionism

On the one hand, perfectionism gives you an incentive to aim higher and work harder.

Obsessively comparing yourself to others is unhealthy, but you can always compete with who you were yesterday.

Obsessively comparing yourself to others is unhealthy, but you can always compete with who you were yesterday. Click To Tweet

Striving to get the mark closer to perfect can awaken strengths and problem solving abilities you didn’t know you had!

Furthermore, while striving to get closer to perfect, you maintain high academic standards and perform well.

“Aim for the stars and, even if you fail, you will land on the moon” rings true at this moment.

The act of earnest striving for perfectionism, can lead to achieving sufficiently high marks before the illusive 100% comes.

Unhealthy Perfectionism

On the other hand, perfectionism can be taken too far.

I have seen many of my friends and classmates lose their health and joy through uncompromising ambition towards 100%.

It is always important to keep things in perspective and see how one grade does not impact you 5 or 10 years down the line.

Unwavering ambition can lead to burnout and regret.

Jade, a recent high school graduate in England, made a controversial video about regretting her perfect exam scores. This regret does not come from ingratitude but from an awareness of the price paid for those grades.

What do you gain, if you get perfect grades, but lose your health and passion?

You can watch the whole video here:

That said, I read an interesting article recently, which discussed the perfectionism of gifted students.

If school takes no effort whatsoever for some students, then what would perfectionism for them look like?

If school takes no effort whatsoever for some students, then what would perfectionism for them look like? Click To Tweet

The writer, Paula Prober, showcases the internal struggle of a student to know “everything,” since it takes no effort to know just something.

Read the article here.

In my experience, the number one place unhealthy perfectionism rears its ugly head is in “procrastination perfectionism.”

I myself have a life sentence, unfortunately. Linda Sapadin of Reed University defines this as: “You’re overly concerned with not meeting high expectations; you work so hard you never finish (or, sometimes, never start)” (read the full article here).

While at university, I was in the Honors College. Despite being surrounded by the “best and brightest,” we all waited to start our major projects.

In my case, I needed to see how each step would go.

I wanted to mentally foresee finding the resources, having the main points of the outline, and then writing the final draft, before I began anything.

This goes back to fear or feeling unprepared.

Though for some, like our pilot in the introduction, we may hunger for that perfect state of mind without fatigue or worry. Regardless, the allure of perfectionism can stop us from even starting.

Ways to Combat It

There are many ways to work through the negative effects of perfectionism. Here I will list four:

1.Make sure you schedule your project well.

Do not write down: “write essay,” but instead breakdown the project into manageable pieces.

You can focus your perfectionism on each step, rather than being overwhelmed by the whole.

I discuss this further in 3 Do’s and Don’ts, which you can read here.

2. Zoom out in time.

Will this essay matter in three months?

Will this test haunt me in five years? Most likely it will not even be on your mind in five days; therefore, relax.

3. Focus on what you are writing and building.

Forget about the grades for a second.

If you make something wonderful, then the grade you deserve will follow.

If you make something wonderful, then the grade you deserve will follow. Click To Tweet

Aim your perfectionism into the content and not the numerical mark at the end.

4. Consider stoicism.

What grades you will get and whether it will be raining tomorrow are entirely out of your control.

Your actions and mindset are in your control.

Criticism and imperfect grades do not define you, but your attitude and performance are in your control.

Letting things go and focusing on knowledge rather than grades will endlessly help you.

Ali Abdaal, a medical school graduate, discusses his stoic outlook and how beneficial it is during school and life.

You can watch the video here (just watch from 02:55 – 11:15)

Conclusion

Perfect yourself but don’t be perfect.

Like a pearl, you can continue to improve and become more radiant, but don’t strive to be perfect.

Perfect yourself but don’t be perfect. Like a pearl, you can continue to improve and become more radiant, but don’t strive to be perfect. Click To Tweet