Where do you need to improve?

From Chapter 2 of Good Habits, Good Students:

Here’s a good way to find out where you need the most improvement: check your report card. Don’t just look at the grades, though. Check the comments your teachers write about each subject.

Far too often when students receive report cards, they check their marks and then stop reading. However, if your reports include comments from each teacher, these can be more useful than the grades when it comes to figuring out what you need to do to improve.

Not all comments by teachers are useful in this way. Some consist mostly of a standard description of what the class has studied in the previous term. There may be only a brief comment on your own work, and sometimes such comments emphasize what is most positive—which is nice, but not helpful if you’re trying to identify your weaknesses.

Sometimes, too, teachers’ comments are written in a kind of secret code I call “report-speak”. “George has a good understanding of blah blah blah”, you read. Sounds good. Actually, however, a “good” understanding may be the third– or fourth–best level, below other possibilities like “excellent” and “very good”. Once you realize this, “good understanding” doesn’t sound so good anymore.

Because comments on reports don’t always include the information you’re looking for, and because they are sometimes written in report-speak, any attempt to use your report card to discover where you most need to improve must include this vital step: asking your teachers, in person.

Before you speak with them, however, do a bit of preparatory work. Continue reading “Where do you need to improve?”

Don’t drink the water?

A recent news article reports on research that appears to debunk the standard advice to drink lots of water—”8 glasses a day” being the usual formula.

Here’s the way Will Dunham, reporting for Reuters news service, opened his story:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The notion that guzzling glasses of water to flood yourself with good health is all wet, researchers said on Wednesday.

Dr. Stanley Goldfarb and Dr. Dan Negoianu of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia reviewed the scientific literature on the health effects of drinking lots of water.

People in hot, dry climates and athletes have an increased need for water, and people with certain diseases do better with increased fluid intake, they found. But for average healthy people, more water does not seem to mean better health, they said.

The article goes on to cite a long list of ailments that, according to the researchers, are NOT cured or prevented by drinking water.

Fine. But here’s my question: if you don’t drink water, what will you drink instead?

Coffee? Soda pop? Chocolate milk? Even fruit juice can be overdone. And if you think plain milk is a good idea, do a little research on lactose intolerance. Green tea?— only if it’s not loaded up with sugar.

The short answer: water may not cure your ills, but it won’t mess up your digestion or rot your teeth or lead to diabetes, either.

So go ahead: drink the water.

WordPress 2.5

I’ve just upgraded the site to WordPress 2.5, and after a few months in which I’ve been extremely busy with other things I hope to resume more frequent posting soon. In the meantime, if you find that something on the site doesn’t work, please let me know!