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.
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
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
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.