Saturday, November 22, 2008

Think Like A Genius

"The first and last thing demanded of genius is the love of truth."
Goethe, German 1749 - 1832

Someone called me a genius today. It made me laugh. I am not a genius, but I strive to think like one.

Even if you're not a genius, you can use the same strategies as Aristotle and Einstein to harness the power of your creative mind and better manage your future.

The following strategies encourage you to think productively, rather than reproductively, in order to arrive at solutions to problems. These strategies are common to the thinking styles of creative geniuses in science, art, and industry throughout history.

1. Look at problems in many different ways.
Find new perspectives that no one else has taken (or no one else has publicized!)

Leonardo da Vinci believed that, to gain knowledge about the form of a problem, you begin by learning how to restructure it in many different ways. He felt that the first way he looked at a problem was too biased. Often, the problem itself is reconstructed and becomes a new one.

2. Visualize!

When Einstein thought through a problem, he always found it necessary to formulate his subject in as many different ways as possible, including using diagrams. He visualized solutions, and believed that words and numbers as such did not play a significant role in his thinking process. (See Josh, you work like Einstein!)

3. Produce!
A distinguishing characteristic of genius is productivity.

Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents. He guaranteed productivity by giving himself and his assistants idea quotas. In a study of 2,036 scientists throughout history, Dean Keith Simonton of the University of California at Davis found that the most respected scientists produced not only great works, but also many "bad" ones. They weren't afraid to fail, or to produce mediocre in order to arrive at excellence.

4. Make Novel Combinations.
Combine, and recombine, ideas, images, and thoughts into different combinations no matter how incongruent or unusual.

The laws of heredity on which the modern science of genetics is based came from the Austrian monk Grego Mendel, who combined mathematics and biology to create a new science.

5. Form relationships.
Make connections between dissimilar subjects.

Da Vinci forced a relationship between the sound of a bell and a stone hitting water. This enabled him to make the connection that sound travels in waves. Samuel Morse invented relay stations for telegraphic signals when observing relay stations for horses.

6. Think in opposites.

Physicist Niels Bohr believed, that if you held opposites together, then you suspend your thought, and your mind moves to a new level. His ability to imagine light as both a particle and a wave led to his conception of the principle of complementarity. Suspending thought (logic) may allow your mind to create a new form.

7. Think metaphorically.

Aristotle considered metaphor a sign of genius, and believed that the individual who had the capacity to perceive resemblances between two separate areas of existence and link them together was a person of special gifts.

8. Prepare yourself for chance.

Whenever we attempt to do something and fail, we end up doing something else. That is the first principle of creative accident. Failure can be productive only if we do not focus on it as an unproductive result. Instead: analyze the process, its components, and how you can change them, to arrive at other results. Do not ask the question "Why have I failed?", but rather "What have I done?"

9. Have patience.

Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906) is recognized as one of the 19th century's greatest painters, and is often called the father of modern art, an avant garde bridge between the impressionists and the cubists. During his life he only had a few exhibitions though his influence on subsequent artists was great as an innovator with shape and form. His genius, however, was not evident until late in life. He was refused admission to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at age 22 and his first solo exhibition was at age 56. His genius was the product of many years' practice and experimental innovation.

10. Believe in Yourself!

I believe in you.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Many of you have gotten my lecture about cramming. I never study the night before a test, and you should work until you are at a point where you are prepared for your tests and don't need to cram. But if you must:

Cramming is not the best way to study for a test, but sometimes it is unavoidable. If you have to cram, use some strategies that you know will work for you, but plan to be ready to study for your next test. Cramming is not the way to get through college. If you cram too much, you will increase your anxiety level, and you will not do as well in your classes. Cram when you must, but develop tried and true study strategies to study throughout the semester.

When cramming, it is a good idea to look over the material that has to be learned in a general way. Look at each chapter for the main topics or most important ideas. Read over the captions under the pictures, look at lists, read text boxes, study graphs and diagrams. These visual strategies usually signal what is important within a chapter.Try to concentrate and review all the main ideas, topics and points. Be selective about what you read. Don’t look over material that you will not be able to review. When reading over the material, identify some key concepts and define these concepts so that you remember them. Check your definition against the one given in your textbook or notes. Now is the time to edit or redo your notes. Put down the correct answers. Study these correct answers. Look over them and review them in the ways that you know you best understand.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many concepts. Pick out what you think is the most important and know them well. By doing this, you will be assured that you are familiar with several key concepts.

Tutoring and its Benefits

The purpose of tutoring is to help students help themselves and to assist or guide them to the point at which they become independent, successful learners.

How do you know if you need tutoring?

There are many possible reasons why you might need tutoring. Here are some of the most important reasons.

Professor or counselor recommends tutoring
Grades are dropping
Homework seems increasingly difficult
Extreme anxiety before tests
Self-esteem is dropping
Loss of interest in learning
Feelings of wanting to give up
Resistance to doing schoolwork
Reluctance to go to class

What are the benefits of tutoring?

Tutoring can be beneficial in many ways. Here are some of the benefits:

Provides personalized attention
Improves grades
Increases knowledge and understanding of subjects
Increases motivation to succeed
Provides intensive practice
Allows progress at own pace
Leads to better use of study time
Improves self-esteem and confidence
Encourages higher levels of learning
Encourages self-directed learning
Reduces competition
Provides praise, feedback, and encouragement
Provides review of skills not mastered but no longer taught

Don't ever be shy or embarrassed about tutoring; tutoring can make a great contribution to success.

Test Anxiety


Too much anxiety about a test is commonly referred to as test anxiety. It is perfectly natural to feel some anxiety when preparing for and taking a test. In fact, a little anxiety can jump start your studying and keep you motivated. However, too much anxiety can interfere with your studying. You may have difficulty learning and remembering what you need to know for the test and too much anxiety may block your performance during the test.


You probably have test anxiety if you answer YES to four or more of the following:

I have a hard time getting started studying for a test.
When studying for a test, I find many things that distract me.
I expect to do poorly on a test no matter how much or how hard I study.
When taking a test, I experience physical discomfort such as sweaty palms, an upset stomach, a headache, difficulty breathing, and tension in my muscles.
When taking a test, I find it difficult to understand the directions and questions.
When taking a test, I have difficulty organizing my thoughts.
When taking a test, I often “draw a blank.”
When taking a test, I find my mind wandering to other things.
I usually score lower on a test than I do on assignments and papers.
After a test, I remember information I couldn’t recall during the test.


Here are some things you can do before, during, and after a test to reduce your test anxiety.
Use good study techniques to gain cognitive mastery of the material that will be covered on the test. This mastery will help you to approach the test with confidence rather than have excessive anxiety. If you need some study habit tips, let me know.

Maintain a positive attitude as you study. Think about doing well, not failing. Think of the test as an opportunity to show how much you have learned.

Go into the test well rested and well fed. Get enough sleep the night before the test. Eat a light and nutritious meal before the test. Stay away from junk foods. I personally try to never study for a test the day before the test.

Stay relaxed during the test. Taking slow, deep breaths can help. Focus on positive self-statements such as “I can do this.”

Follow a plan for taking the test such as the DETER strategy. Let me know if you want to learn more about DETER.

Don’t worry about other students finishing the test before you do. Take the time that you need to do your best.

Once you finish the test and hand it in, forget about it temporarily. There is nothing more you can do until the graded test is returned to you. Turn your attention and effort to new assignments and tests.

When the graded test is returned to you, analyze it to see how you could have done better. Learn from your mistakes and from what you did well. Apply this knowledge when you take the next test.

You have to know the material to do well on a test. You have to control test anxiety to show what you know.

If you have serious test anxiety, consider talking to the counseling center about different strategies (like testing by yourself) that they may be able to hook you up with.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Organize Yourself and Your Time

There is so much going on at WSU and in your classes; how can you fit it all in?

The key is to get your time under control.

To manage your time successfully, you need to get informed about:
1. What you have to do (e.g. assignments, seminar reading, paid work)
2. When they have to be done (e.g. deadlines, lecture & seminar times)
3. How to fit them into the time you have (dividing up available time)

Remember that I only know about assignment deadlines for the courses I help you with It’s up to you to manage your work for all your different classes, so you are able to meet all your deadlines.

Top tip…
Much of the information you need will also be accessible online, on Blackboard or via your course website. If you can’t find information about deadlines, referencing etc, ask your instructor or TA. Don’t guess – guessing wrong could hurt your grade.

Planning to meet your deadlines

The key to good time planning is to have systems to keep everything under control, and to make them simple so that you’ll actually use them.
· Diaries are good for carrying with you to write in dates as you get them – but they don’t give you an overview of how your term looks.
· Electronic reminders on your watch, mobile or laptop are easy to set up – but also easy to cancel when they go off.
The simplest way to get a clear visual overview of the time you have and the tasks you need to fit into it is to make a paper term plan that you can fix up somewhere you will see it every day (e.g. above your desk). If you would like a template to help you with that, let me know. I can help you.

Ø Start by entering deadlines for your assignments so you can see when your busy times will be. Include seminars and presentations you need to prepare for.

Ø In the ‘Remember’ column, add any events which you need to take into account when planning, e.g. family birthdays, social events, sports fixtures etc.

Ø Decide on the major tasks you need to complete for each of your deadlines, and roughly how long you need to spend on each.

Ø Fit them into the ‘Targets’ column, working back from the deadline.
So the plan for one essay might look like this:


Wk 8

Brainstorm and plan research by Friday (30 mins)

Wk 9

Start research (3 x 2 hrs)
Mum’s birthday – go home Friday, leave at 3

Wk 10
Essay due Friday
Write first draft Monday afternoon (3 hrs)
Edit, proof &check refs Thurs morning (2 hrs)

REMEMBER that this is only for one essay - you will need to fit all your work in. So you may need to set artificial deadlines so you’re not trying to finish all your essays at the same time.

Making a study timetable
If you schedule your study times in advance, you won’t be wasting time each day deciding whether and when to study. Book study times into your timetable with lectures and seminars, as academic commitments.
Make a week plan with columns for each day of the week, and rows for ‘Morning’, ‘Afternoon’ and ‘Evening’.
Ø Enter lectures, seminars and other fixed academic commitments.
Ø Add regular commitments like paid work, club meetings, sports fixtures and training.
Ø Mark up times which you are going to commit to as study sessions. A good target to aim at is five two hour sessions a week.
Ø Plan to be flexible – if something else comes up, you can trade a study session with a free session.
You will have busy weeks when you need to add more sessions, and quiet weeks when you can claim time back.

Choose your best times to study – most people have a time of day when they are more focused (often in the mornings), and a time when they find it hard to concentrate (often after lunch). Trying to process or write a complicated text when your brain isn’t working well is a waste of time, and can be depressing and discouraging. Work out your best thinking times, and use them for tasks that need more concentration.

"Timetables don’t work for me". You may find it works better for you if you keep an overall tally of the hours you spend studying in a week. add more study times, or give yourself more free time as necessary.

How many hours should I study?

The University’s view is that studying is a significant occupation, like full-time work. So if you are a full-time student, you should be spending about 35 hours a week on academic activities including independent study, lectures, seminars, tutorials and lab work. The more effective your studying is, the less time you will spend on studying.

Getting a work/life balance
Defining study times also means defining times when you won’t be studying. Being at university is about taking part in a wide range of activities, including sports and socializing; you shouldn’t feel that you have to study all the time. If you can take your study times seriously, you won’t need to feel guilty when you do something else at other times. I find that if I do not have a social life, then studying because quite difficult for me.

Getting organized and informed
If you’ve taken the trouble to plan your time, you won’t want to waste it because you can’t find the things or information you need.

Have a simple filing system – if it’s complicated, you won’t use it. One way is to use a box file for each module to keep lecture notes, handouts, notes from reading, photocopies, even small books. Stick lecture/seminar times, rooms, and deadlines inside the lid.

Decide on your spaces for study just as you decided on times for study. Find a place that works well for you. If you can, keep it as a space just for studying, so you can have all the necessary things close at hand. If it’s somewhere where other people might interrupt, it helps to have a way to let them know that you are working now but will be free later.

Finally - remember that things usually take longer than you think! If you find you don’t need all the time you’ve alloted, it’s extra free time.

My contact information

To schedule tutoring, you can either email me or call me. The best route is email, but either will work.

My email is:

or call me at:

Welcome to my tutoring blog!

I noticed that many of you have similar problems to include text anxiety, etc. I thought I might post a few things on here that might help you get through school. I bet you probably dont believe this, but I was quite the fun loving fool in college. I also pulled out exceptional grades too. I was able to play, work full time, and take 20 credits successfully. I was able to do this, because I had a system and learned how to prioritize my studying and really make it worth it. I want to help all of you be able to do this too!