Like many of you, I spent much of my early years at school. Once I add in time at University, I was there from age 5 to 22. My most vivid recollection from those years took place at Kelston Boys High School in Auckland. I was 15, in Form 5. Final exams for the year were fast approaching. We were in a school assembly – and the Head of Form (I think that’s who he was), told us the following story:
“We have just had test exams for end of year. Three students who sat the exams came to see me. They asked how they could improve their scores and do better. When I asked what they got on the test exams, I was surprised to hear that they got top marks in almost every subject. Thus my advice to them: stop studying the stuff you already know, and focus on what you don’t know.“
Solid advice – and Mark’s article about reading stuff you don’t understand brought that scene back to me:
“If you want to grow you must push yourself beyond where you are at. Sometimes this means reading material that you don’t completely understand. Obviously you can’t pickup a book in a completely foreign language and expect to get anything out of it, but you can pickup a book on a topic where you don’t really have the right prerequisite knowledge to understand 100% of the content and still learn a lot.“
There you go. Push the boundaries. Find something tangential to your current area of expertise … and go exploring.