By Dr. Elisabeth Murfield
Faculty Member, American Public University
Life hacks are meant to be simple solutions to life’s problems. They’re popping up everywhere to help people spend less at the grocery store, be more productive at work, weed out toxic friends, and more. But when are life hacks more detrimental than helpful? When do they trick people into thinking the solution is easy when it really isn’t?
As my high school P.E. teacher used to say, “If you cut corners in gym class, then you’ll cut corners in life.” I never knew how profound his words were until I became a teacher myself.
Teachers are not allowed the luxury of cutting corners or taking shortcuts in their work. Students deserve the best their teachers can give them. When teachers opt for the easy solution in terms of instruction, assessment, or discipline–students ultimately pay the price.
As a teacher, I know how powerful modeling can be when it comes to student learning. So as a teacher of teachers, I have to show my students that while there may be a list out there of “5 Simple Ways to Organize Your Classroom,” there are no such easy solutions for graduating college or for helping their future students get the most out of their education.
Simply put, college isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work and self-motivation to persevere, be successful, and graduate. College doesn’t just train you in what you need to know teach well–it shows you how to work hard, fail, and try again.
In an age where everybody wants a quick fix, it’s important to remember that you get out of your education what you put into it. If you opt for the easier course and only do the minimum work required, you run the risk of ending up with a meaningless experience. You’ll diminish your sense of accountability and you’ll be paying for a grade instead of gaining knowledge. There are no life hacks to getting the most out of your education.
The cornerstones of a great education are vision, determination, and hard work. If you want a good education, you must first envision it. You must realize that it is possible if you want it badly enough. Once you have that mindset, you have to be determined to make it happen. Make a vow that nothing is going to stand in the way of graduating and working in your chosen field. A great education ultimately comes down to your willingness to accept that it won’t be easy and that it takes a lasting commitment.
Choosing the right school is crucial to the quality of education that you’ll receive. Does the school have the specific program that meets your career needs? Is that program both credible and rigorous? What are the credentials and experiences of the professors? Do some research and look for the educational institution that is going to work as hard as you.
Once you identify and enroll in a school that meets your standards–never stop working hard or let life hacks distract you from your goals. Don’t select courses that are the easiest. Challenge yourself. If a shortcut does present itself then think long and hard about whether sacrificing an education you can be proud of is worth a quick fix.
Dr. Elisabeth K. Murfield holds a doctorate in education with a specialization in curriculum and instruction. Dr. Murfield is currently a part-time faculty member at American Public University’s School of Education. She works with undergraduate education students and graduate students in the Master of Education in Teaching program.
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