The diamonds in the rough are rare but are present in the classroom. Do you always come up with bright ways to study smarter and not harder? Do people jokingly call you a smart cookie? You’ve definitely had a fair share of iconic moments in school or college. Find out more examples of how learners showcased their unexpected genius in the classroom.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Students find unique and clever ways to handle classroom situations, showcasing unexpected genius.
  • Every student’s learning experience is different, highlighting the importance of understanding and embracing various approaches.

Studying isn’t just about the volume of material; it’s about the approach. And students never fail to prove it. To get the most surprising and unique ways when the student surpasses the master, keep on reading. But first things first, let’s find out why learning is not as easy as a casual stroll in the park on a shiny day.

Why Studying Is So Hard

Students often find studying challenging, and it’s not just because of the volume of information they need to absorb. At the heart of this challenge is the fact that many students lack effective study habits and are unaware of the optimal strategies for learning. Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, teamed up with professors Angela Duckworth and Ethan Kross to develop a research-based study skills curriculum for middle and high school students. One of the primary insights from their research is that students often don’t know the best methods to study for tests, master complex texts, or take productive notes.

In his book, “Outsmart Your Brain: Why Learning is Hard and How You Can Make It Easy“, Willingham delves into the misconceptions about studying and highlights effective strategies grounded in cognitive science. One significant revelation is that what feels natural or seems to be working for students may not necessarily be the best approach. Willingham equates this to doing pushups on the knees; it feels easier and might seem productive, but it doesn’t offer the best results in the long run. Students, unfortunately, gravitate towards these less challenging and seemingly effective strategies, which might explain why they often struggle.

Another challenge lies in the way lectures are delivered and perceived. Students often treat lectures like movies, expecting them to be straightforward narratives. However, lectures are structured hierarchically, with main topics branching out to several key points. This means students need to actively reconstruct the hierarchical organization in their minds, which requires significant mental effort. Not understanding this structure can lead to confusion and difficulty in retaining information.

Best Cases When Students Were Genuis

Sometimes, students can surprise us by playing the “smart cookie” card and demonstrating their intelligence in unexpected ways. Here are some real-life examples students shared on online forums like Quora and Reddit:

The Sleepy Genius

“On my first day of math class, I decided to take a nap. My teacher wasn’t happy and gave me detention. Every time she saw me sleeping, she added more time to my detention. But I kept sleeping: during recess, during her next class, and even during her free time. She tried a new plan. She made me stand next to her desk all day, hoping I’d stop sleeping. But I just stood there. Later, the school principal came. He was a bit upset but left after a while. The teacher then called the school psychologist. They talked to me for hours, trying to figure out why I was acting this way. But all they found out was that I was really stubborn. The next day, the teacher told me I could sleep if I wanted to. She thought I’d fail the upcoming test because of it. But I took the test, passed it, and went back to sleep. She was surprised, and I showed everyone that I knew the subject well.”

The Classic Mix-up

“My 8th grade English teacher, Mr. Ahmed, was known for his short temper. One day, as we were learning about animals, he started discussing bears but kept mistakenly saying “beer.” I wasn’t fully paying attention at first, but when I caught the error, I raised my hand to correct him. Instead of acknowledging the mistake, he got upset, claiming both words were the same. My friend jumped in to explain the difference between a drink and the animal. Despite our efforts, Mr. Ahmed stubbornly continued using “beer” for the rest of the lesson. He avoided speaking to me for a month after that incident. However, on the bright side, my classmates began pronouncing “bear” correctly. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Ahmed believed playing dead would work if confronted by a “beer.””

Writing Wonders

“When I was a freshman, I took biology. My teacher was super nice and it was his first year teaching. To be honest, he struggled with explaining things. When our first big test came, he knew we weren’t ready. So, he said we could use a 3×5 notecard as a cheat sheet. Everyone was shocked because it was so small. I decided to make the best of it. My special skill is that I can write really tiny. So, I wrote all the important stuff on that notecard, using both sides. The next day, when the teacher saw my notecard, he was amazed. All my classmates were impressed and some even joked about buying it from me or being glad they sat behind me to peek.”

The Ethics of Law

“A few years back, I was in a Business Ethics class for my Crim degree. On the last day, my professor was summarizing the key lessons about ethics and morality. He emphasized the idea that everyone dislikes being lied to, claiming there’s no such thing as a ‘good lie.’ Interrupting his speech, I raised my hand and offered a different perspective. I mentioned how sometimes people appreciate comforting lies, using a lighthearted example about my wife’s flattering comments towards me. This caught everyone off guard, resulting in an outburst of laughter throughout the classroom. My professor, momentarily stunned and trying not to laugh, admitted he didn’t have a response. I cheekily noted that I had managed to out-argue a practicing lawyer with my unexpected take.”

The Grammar Vigilante

“Not exactly outsmarted, but I did annoy one. Back in Year 10 Chemistry the teacher gave us a practice exam, just to see how we were taking in everything. As usual I got everything correct, and the bonus question too. The teacher asked if there were any questions, and I piped up with the correction of a spelling mistake in one of the questions. His response was the he was “a chemistry teacher, not an English teacher” and jokingly threatened to send me to the principal.”

Final Words

Every student’s journey is unique. While some face challenges with study methods, others shine by thinking outside the box. Embracing diverse learning strategies and recognizing individual genius can make the educational experience enriching for both students and teachers alike.


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