TITLE: You Can't Cram for Your Running Final AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: December 08, 2004 10:12 AM DESC: It takes time to get in shape pysically. It also takes time to get in shape mentally. ----- BODY: We are in the last week of classes here. For the last couple of weeks, I've noticed a group of students who have started working out in the mornings. If they are working out as a part of a lifestyle change, I applaud them! However, from the timing of the new workouts, I suspect that these folks are trying to get ready for an upcoming final exam in their physical fitness classes. Folks, here's a small hint from someone who's been there: You can't cram for physical fitness. Your bodies don't work that way. Slow and steady win this race. Our brains don't work that way, either, though in this season of cramming for final exams you wouldn't think that anyone knows so. Sadly, for many academic courses, it seems to work in the short-term. If a final exam emphasizes facts and definitions, then you may be able to study them all in a massive all-nighter and remember them long enough to get through the exam. But the best-case scenario is that you do well enough on the exam, only in a year or so to find that you have not mastered any of the ideas or skills from the course. For a CS professor, there are fewer things sadder than encountering a senior, about to graduate, who did well enough in all his courses but who can't seem to program or drive at a command line. Learning, like training, is an enterprise best done over time. Slow and steady wins the race. -----