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Does it take stress to learn?

Article last edited on June 21, 2016 by Admin

To revise an exam, some homework is taken at the last moment. Why? Because stress, generated by a short deadline, is a powerful motivating factor. However, is stress still an important element in learning well? When is stress useful?

Is stress really that bad?

All the medical studies on the subject are unanimous: the stress is harmful, it is the cause of more than half of sick leaves in Europe, which represents a real plague for social security accounts. It is in this same logic of harmfulness that many are the pedagogues who advocate a minimum of stress for the pupils in their work.learning. Are stress and school failure linked?
But don’t we sometimes say that stress is good . The question is however far from being “stupid”. Indeed, don’t we need a dose of “saving” stress to finish an urgent job, to push us to learn a lesson in the face of upcoming exams? Some business leaders do not swear by management by stress to push employees to find solutions and to surpass themselves.

Good stress and bad stress

It all seems contradictory. So what attitude to take in the face of stress . Should we encourage it or ban it? In fact, the question does not arise in these terms. There are different types of stress. As bizarre as it may seem, stress is a defense reaction of the organism to face exceptional circumstances, and to surpass itself. This is, for example, the classic case experienced by students when it comes to writing a dissertation: it is at the moment when the deadline to make work approach, where available time is scarcer than stress push to find the inspiration and the energy to finish the job. This stress will be all the stronger as the stake is important. The mechanism is simply biological.
On the other hand, it is as well settled that prolonged and excessive stress has harmful effects. Harmful first on the state of mind and then harmful on health. Many studies show a weakening of the immune defences. This is how stress creates favorable conditions for the outbreak of diseases which then become more frequent.

Stress and learning

In summary, there is what we call the good stress that comes from ourselves (such as wanting to pass exams, for example, is ourselves who we impose this will) and which is of short duration. Then there is bad stress from outside pressures (such as the demands of a boss, a teacher who seems unrealistic) which manifests itself over a much longer period of time. It’s also all about the right dosage: a little stress from time to time is natural. But subjecting oneself to prolonged stress is bad, even dangerous.

In a work oflearning, stress often follows panic. We feel that we are not going to get there. We make mental images of the disaster that is bound to happen, because we will not have learned enough (in our opinion). In fact, this feeling is in 80% of cases not verified by the reality of things. (Unless of course, if we do nothing). But the state of stress generated by this unjustified fear will create the conditions for failure: in a negative state of mind, the person will not work effectively. So he will need more time. This time will be taken from leisure and this is how the same person gets tired, exhausted and becomes even less efficient. This is how on the day of the deadline (whether it is an exam, a supervised assignment or a dissertation defense) things will have every chance of going wrong, failure being “pre-programmed” because of this state of initial stress.

Some tips

Those who learn the best and the fastest are not necessarily those who have a great faculty of memorization, but are those who know how to work most efficiently. Here are some tips to know:

…….• Ask yourself about the origin of your stress. Do you tend to panic when faced with a difficulty? Are you under prolonged stress?

…….• We are rarely at our best during the whole day. Around 11 a.m. and after the meal (from 1 p.m. until about 3 p.m.) the body works in slow motion. And that’s okay! It is good to take a short nap after lunch American studies show that a quarter of an hour nap, (while drowsy) allows you to be more efficient and save 2 hours of work during the day .

…….• The concentration is not constant. This can drop by 50% or even more after an hour and a half of work. It is advisable to agree small breaks of a few minutes, in the intellectual effort.

…….• Discover how you learn, dissect your learning strategy in order tolearn in the most efficient way for you. Know that everyone has their own way of learning.

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