Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Adjusting to University Learning

Posted: July 22, 2013 in Essays
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A/N: This piece was my second university essay for my subject; SSK12 – Introduction to University Learning.  I received a High Distinction grade.


It is commonly said that students need to make a number of adjustments when starting university. This essay will critically discuss the way students need to adjust their thought process and the way they write in order to succeed in university learning. It will also discuss the new creative and critical mind skills that must be developed by students attending a tertiary institution. In order to discuss these topics this essay will draw upon several relevant materials from the SSK12 unit.
In the first year it is difficult for some people to settle into university life. This is usually because people find themselves having to adjust quickly to new ways of doing things; the most prominent of these is the way they think and the way they write. The next two paragraphs will discuss the adjustment to the way students think. University encourages students to think outside the box, this can sometimes be confusing as secondary education is stricter in the allowances of interpretation. At university you are entitled to your own interpretation as long as you support your views with evidence.  The diversity of student opinion plays an important role in the intellectual debate of learning. (Marshall & Rowland 2006)

University does not only teach you in a particular discipline it hones your generic skills, the skills you continue to develop throughout your life. These are your ability to think, communicate, write, research et cetera. (Marshall & Rowland 2006) The ability to think in different ways, to take oneself outside the box, is an important skill in tertiary education. University is about encouraging students into the larger field of knowledge, things that are too intricate to be understood in one sitting. Students must not only learn their discipline they must learn how to think. (Priest 2007)

Adjusting to the academic way of writing is also something that most first year university students find taxing. The next two paragraphs will discuss student’s adjustments to writing academically, particularly essay writing. For most first year university students an academic essay is something that is completely foreign. It is confusing, overwhelming and entirely stressful. (Priest 2007) Writing an essay is something every tertiary student has to learn how to do. It is a difficult process that requires careful thought and consideration. Not only do students have to change their thought process, they have to change the way that they create their work. Academic essays have a strict structure and language. This can be difficult for students to adjust to.  There are so many parts to an essay that it can become an overpowering, scary entity.

Writing academic essays can be very daunting as one is required to analyse the question, develop an argument and support this with relevant resources. A first year student adjusting to this type of structure and discipline can sometimes wonder where does one start? Essays are a learning curve for every tertiary student, sometimes ones writing can be criticised as it is not consistent with the accepted standards of the area of study at a tertiary level, this is where students have to adapt to what is required of them. (Marshall & Rowland 2006)

There are many skills one has to learn when attending a university. The creative and critical mind skills are two of the most important skills one must develop as a tertiary learner. The next two paragraphs will discuss the new skill of creativity. To think creatively you have to be able expand on fresh ideas. To provide as many unique ideas as possible, no matter how ridiculous the idea may seem at the time. In creative thinking fruitfulness and productivity are valued over how accurate your idea is. (Warren 1995) This skill can seem daunting to a first year student, there are so many rules one has to abide by in other aspects of life it is highly unusual to be told that creative ideas, no matter how silly, can be the best ones. I believe Lewis Carroll summed it up best when he said; “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (1865, 251)

A creative mind is a mind that is open to new and exciting ways to look at things. A creative mind helps us to identify our unique talents as a person and as a tertiary learner. It helps us all to be better problem solvers. Creativity is an ability, an attitude and a process. In order to be creative and think creatively one must take on faith, temporarily suspend disbelief and assume anything can be done. (Parfitt 2010) This skill can be very difficult for most logical and rational people to develop, to those who think this way creativity and the creative mind skill can seem nonsensical. However they do not know how wrong they are. “Creativity is not a talent it is a way of operating”. (Cleese 2012) Creativity is one of the femur bones in the skeleton that makes a successful university learner.

The skill of critical thinking is something every tertiary student must develop. The next two paragraphs will discuss this skill. Critical thinking is essential to university studies as intellectual debates and arguments are vital to learning. This skill can be engaged in every unit you do, it is designed to encourage one to distinguish ones view of the world, and to be open to other points of view. It teaches the learner to examine their position on a subject and construct a rational, logical and convincing argument. (Marshall & Rowland 2006)

“Critical thinking is reflective and reasonable thinking aimed at deciding what to do or believe” (Warren 1995, 2) This can be a complex thing for a first year student to comprehend but this skill is essential in order for one to get their opinion across successfully. Arguing ones point in an essay or a debate or in a tutorial shows the lecturer or tutor that the student has a firm grasp of the subject at hand and has the ability to critique, create and reflect on said subject. Critical thinking is essential and imperative to learning; one cannot form an opinion or communicate a thesis without its use. (Warren 1995)

It is clear that students need to make a number of adjustments when starting university.  This essay has aimed to critically discuss the way students need to adjust their thought process and the way they write in order to succeed in university learning. It has also discussed the new creative and critical mind skills that must be developed by students attending a tertiary institution. In order to discuss these topics this essay has drawn upon several relevant materials from the SSK12 unit, as well as some outside resources.


References:

Carroll, L. 1865. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. United Kingdom: Macmillan.

Cleese, J. 2012. John Cleese on Creativity. Video Recording. Belgium: Creativity Worldforum.

Marshall, L. and Rowland, F. 2006. A Guide to Learning Independently. NSW: Pearson Education Australia.

Parfitt, M. 2012. Art and Creativity. Video Recording. Curtin University: Art & Creativity VSW100 iLeture One.

Priest, A. 2007. “Expression of the Interesting.” The Australian, October 10.

Warren, K. 1995. The Critical Self. Perth: Murdoch University.

Creative Commons License
Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Adjusting to University Learning by Sheridan Brownlie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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