Perseverance – an often misused word


It is an often quoted word to students, other forms include tenacity, determination, grit etc. As teachers, we try to inculcate the right values to students but sometimes the meaning of the word gets lost in translation.

From the dictionary, “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” Perseverance by itself is a good thing and every successful individual possess this quality. However, we do have to qualify it when used in terms of studying.

If a student is already studying as hard as he/she possibly can, telling them to work harder, longer isn’t really helpful. I knew a student once who was extremely diligent, she would finish all the tutorials and revision worksheets the school gave. Yet her results (including chemistry) were always failing or just scrapping a pass. Did she persevere? She did all she could but she just couldn’t get a good grade.

You would remember the story of Thomas Edison inventing the light bulk after failing 1000 times. We need to realise that Edison didn’t keep doing the same thing 1000 times. His goal was specific, he wanted to invent the light bulb. But the method to do it was not. Meaning, he tried 1000 different ways to make it work.

And this is the secret behind all successful people…they don’t keep repeating the same old mistakes. They try, fail, learn from it and try another method. The learning part is sometimes missing when students hear about perseverance. So they work harder, stay up longer, doing the SAME thing they did when they failed!

Einstein said that “Insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results”.

So i tell my students, our goal is to score an A, there’s many ways we can go about it. Our goal is specific, but the method is not! Be resourceful! When we go out to work next time, we will also meet challenges and we can use our mind to think of alternative ways to achieve the target.

If you had been failing H2 Chemistry, have you thought of changing your study strategy? Since the way you had been studying haven’t work. Remember, don’t ignore the problem, don’t deny the problem. Face it and think how can you solve it.

After teaching Chemistry for more than 14 years, we have developed several studying strategies for students. Come down for a trial lesson to see how we guide students approach the question.

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