Making the Most of Your Lectures

When I first arrived at uni, I thought I’d carry on being an early riser with perfect attendance. I soon realised that as you get used to your uni routine, a lazy morning in a warm bed becomes an infinitely preferable option to sitting in a cold lecture theatre half awake and barely paying attention to the powerpoint on the screens. 

If uni is meant to be a place to learn and cultivate our thirst for knowledge, how then do we motivate ourselves to go to lectures and actually take something out of them? Even as someone obsessively in love with their art history degree, I’ve found attending some of my other subjects’ lectures extremely difficult at times. Three things have got me through them, though. 

First, after a lecture, however boring, reflect on the content and write out the good things or the things you liked. It’s a horribly tedious discipline at first, but it becomes instinctive with time, like writing down all the small good things after a very bad day and reading though them, realising there’s still beauty in our murky world.

Secondly, let yourself be surprised. And by that, I mean that I’ve found doing the recommended reading afterwards to be extremely helpful in that it lets you soak in and reflect upon your initial, more visceral responses to new ideas brought up in lectures. Gorging on other scholars’ ideas before a lecture just biases the wonderful, weird associations your brain can make on its own, and make lectures all the more interesting. 

Finally, and my personal favourite, is looking for the spark in a lecturer’s eye. No matter how much you dislike them or their soporific PowerPoint, they’re usually there because they got slightly addicted to academia and have something they’re passionate about to share. The spark might range from something as subtle as a slight twitch of excitement of the lower lip when mentioning a cool new project in some niche area of research, to an inspired gaze upward, as if some higher power is speaking through them about Neoclassicism. The point is, if you spot the passion in the lecturer, your brain will automatically switch to endearment/curiosity mode and make that hour every week more interesting and enjoyable. 

[Isabelle Ribe]

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