I was frustrated with an assignment the teacher handed out. I had called the teacher over to ask a bunch of questions about the problems on the assignment. I asked clarifying question after clarifying question. Eventually the teacher just told me “You’re thinking about it too much.”
I like to joke about this but at the moment I lost faith in school. These days I understand the bad advice teachers regularly give.
Despite that, there is a lot of wisdom to this comment when you’re discussing the average school assignment. As much as I think it’s a bit of an insult to wisdom in general, this idea can be taken as advice to get through most of school.
Most assignments should be taken at face value. When you can interpret a question in multiple different ways, it generally doesn’t matter which way you end up interpreting it. If you’re having trouble picking then it’s safe to pick the most stupidly simple answer you can possibly think of. 99% of the time, whatever answer you pick will get you credit. (If it doesn’t, just mentioning your interpretation can generally buy the points right back.)
Teachers are human beings too. They don’t want to spend their Saturdays making perfect logically consistent assignments for their students to breeze through. They have other things they’d rather be worrying about. Even the teachers that are willing to put in the time still have to be highly skilled at asking good questions to succeed at this.
(Anyone that’s ever tried to design a good test with the intention of testing knowledge understands this is a painful process at times.)
This is part of life. You’ll run into these problems consistently if you’re reading too much into getting things perfect. People are rarely as precise as they should be when giving directions. (Even if they are, a good percentage of people will still fail to interpret them right anyway.) Mistakes happen on both ends.
Taking assignments at face value is usually the best choice. If you’re really stuck between two interpretations of the question then you could always answer both.
Digging too deep is just going to frustrate you because there rarely is all that much depth of thought put into these problems. Most of what you need to do well in school can be simplified into something like 101 School Hacks For Better Grades & A Better Life.
So… in life I wildly disagree with this but, in school, don’t think too much about it.
Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night? That’s what this blog is all about. Be sure to check out the archives and follow along. Also, be sure to read the books in the sidebar to learn more.
Let me tell you (an inappropriate) true story…
It was high school Spanish class…
I was a Senior in a class of Sophomores. There was one other Senior in the class. Best of all –
She was smokin’ (as the old folk say.) She was gorgeous. 10 out of 10. Tight jeans. And she always sat right in front of me in class (gulp.)
We were the only Seniors in the class. By default… that made me the coolest guy there… And trust me… I’m never the coolest guy there.
But we’d talk. Sometimes in class she’d lean over. I’d continue to pretend me importa la espanol stuff pero… Seriousamente… 😛
Sure… I’d show up to class. But my brain rarely stuck around for the lecture. And that’s why you might not be surprised I was getting a C- in class.
It’s funny how that stuff that distracted me in highschool wasn’t so problematic in college where I took a double course load and still scored near the top of my class…
You don’t need to be perfect to score near perfect.
You just need to know how…