School Skills: Simplifying

'I can't understand how we've managed to spoil the broth.'

I remember when I was in school the teacher would ask the class a question and I would answer it in my head. I’d be so sure that I had the correct answer. Then someone would raise their hand and give the teacher a completely different response and the teacher would say “correct!” and I would be so confused. This would happen quite often, especially on the questions that I felt 100% on. However, I never raised my hand in class so I guess people thought I was a lot smarter than I actually was.

I did have the habit of over-complicating things. After middle school I realised there was a system to the assessments and what the teachers looked for, so once I figured that out there was very little effort involved. Before that however, I used to put in a lot of effort and go way too deep for just the simple things. I would then see my classmates getting really good marks for something they did simply and clearly and that is when I realised I needed to stop working so hard.

I figured that my habit of over-complicating lead to me to thinking of the wrong answers, so when I started going off on tangents or getting stuck I learned to reread the question and see if I was doing it again. Teachers always look for certain answers and sometimes when something seems too hard or complicated it just means you’re not looking at the question correctly. A good way to approach a question is to look at it from the teacher’s point of view. What do they want to teach us, what do they want to learn from us? This approach only works in school though.

The one thing over-complicated thinking is great for is BS-ing and in-depth analysis (and maybe creative writing? Over-active imagination?) so as long as I don’t completely misunderstand the prompt, it’s a good skill to have!


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