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Millions of children in India spend much of their youth attending schools and  educational institutions. I was one of them. Deep down my heart I always had the desire to make my parents happy and as a student the only way I could have achieved this was by getting high grades at school.

The bad news first - it never happened. My grades all through the schooling years were average. This could have been easily changed by my parents and by my teachers. My grades throughout the schooling years remained average and I was no exception. Millions of students in India and globally are in this boat. So what is missing?

The missing link is that students are not taught how to study effectively 

Instead students are told to study and are endlessly lectured on study issues. Can you remember being told or being reminded endlessly to study by your parents? If you close your eyes you may even hear their words. My parents have passed away but I can still can hear their voice loudly and clearly.

I had to travel 5500 km to learn Study skills

I migrated to Australia in mid 80s and had to learn how to study. I found out from the experts that there was such a thing some called 'Study skills'. It consisted of many tips and strategies on how to study effectively. For example it explained how memory works, how to take good notes, how regular revision and self-testing can help to keep the information in long term memory more active. How to plan your study time-table, how to read effectively and how to make good summaries.

Today I have two degrees (both from top Australian universities) and currently I teach English for Academic Purposes (EAP) at University of Nottingham in Ningbo, China. There is something else I learnt and I practice. Life skills.

When you combine life skills with study skills you have a winning formula. This is specially more effective when dealing with students at risk. Many students rebel and drop out because they don't see the purpose of learning. Some students are wrongly labelled and sometimes mistreated. Most of these students are exceptionally bright and may even harbour leadership qualities. They are the leaders of the next generation and we have a social and moral responsibility to rescue and nurture them. When they fail we also collectively fail. There is a saying in Africa 'It takes a whole village to raise a child'.

The good news - study skills can be taught like any other skills

I want to end this story on a positive note and by asserting  that students need to be taught how to study effectively. Parents and teachers should not take it for granted that sometime, somewhere students will  learn or pick up the art of studying by themselves. It is true that a very small percentage of students (3-5%)  will figure this out  but the majority may struggle and may have to settle for average grades. Just like I had to. Sadly, most of these students will never be able to achieve their full academic and life potential.  

I am very passionate about mentoring and teaching life and study skills to young adults. I am planning to start a skills academic for youths in Jaipur in the next few years. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments. You can reach me via email - vijay.patankar@nottingham.edu.cn

By making our youth great we can make India great!

Vijay Patankar

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