Friday, 16 March 2012

A student’s motivation

I remember the first few classes I had in my junior year. I read all the material required, I prepared all the assignments perfectly and I did all the optional work available. Somehow, that motivation got lost along the way. The novelty gets lost and, like my colleague at the Dutch legal blog has found out, you find yourself doing only what is necessary for you to get through your seminar without your professor marking down an absence due to being unprepared. A blog about how to get away with this behavior is currently in the works.

The reason that we fall back into this state of inactivity is not completely known, though I have my theories. For one, the more you study law, the more it becomes work instead of something you do purely out of enjoyment. Another problem is that is relatively easy to pretend to have done work and I do not know about you, but for me it is incredibly tempting to play video games instead of doing my homework. If I can get away with that, there is something wrong. I wrote about this two years ago when I decided that I would not settle with barely getting by and really wanted to start putting in the effort.

The thing is, we like law. We want to study it and we enjoy reading about it. We have to if we can survive the first few months without either pulling out all of our hair or running away screaming. We are not just going to classes because we wanted to get a diploma. We are going because law interests us. We are going because when I say the subject of a talk will be ‘the comparisons of the principle of intention concerning criminal law in Germanic countries’, your reaction resembles that of a child in a candy shop.

Just try to remind yourself of this. When going to a lecture, you are listening to the wisdom of a professor telling you in basic terms about a subject that you care about. For seminars you get to solve legal puzzles that allow you to show off your cunning. A written test may sometimes feel like a chore or even something incredibly scary, but it is also the proof that you have learned something new. Even if it does not feel that way because of hindsight bias

So, when you are losing motivation, think about how much worse it could be. Remember high school when you had to spend the majority of your time studying subjects you could not care less about? You probably do not because of human tendency to idolize the past, but it remains a valid point. University the place you have been dreaming of going; a place where even the subjects you care least about are still about a subject you adore. This is it. Enjoy it.

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