I help 7th and 8th graders, through high school, taking them from the bottom 30 percent to the top 30 percent of their class.
Last week a boy came to speak to me. He was sent by his father, because he had no motivation to learn. He was getting 60s on his tests, and that was with extra leeway by the teacher. I offered him if he would be interested in learning tools to become from the top 30 percent of the class. He cracked me half a smile.
So I told him, come and lets learn together. He opened up the Gemarrah, and waited for me. I said, the first tool to achieve in learning, is to stop waiting for other people to start. You open the Talmud, and you ask me, Are you ready? That is the first crucial difference, between the ones who are effective learners and the ones who are ineffective at learning. Active or passive.
The difference between the doers and the waiters, is that the doers make it happen while the waiters wait for something to happen, and then ask, what happened? The ones who are getting clarity in what they learn are the ones who are talking more, involved more. I explained, that my job with him, is to make him do 80 percent of the talking, a habit that he will need to learn, for when learning together with a chavrusah. This state of mind is crucial for succeeding in learning. The only ones who really learn with clarity in the Daf Yomi, are the ones who are giving the shiur. ומתלמידי יותר מכולם. The best chavrusa you can have, is one that will listen to you, and listen well. Not one who is better than you, and explain to you. After all, who enjoys the violin more, the one who plays it or the one who listens to someone playing? The Torah calls itself שירה to teach you this lesson.
This has become a big problem today with the bottom 30 percent. Parents pay for tutors who teach. But these students don’t need to be taught. They need to be activated, more than they need to be spoon-fed. Like in bowling, where there are rubbers on the sides of the lanes for beginners, the tutor needs to help the student letting him learn from his mistakes, and working at his own pace, while the tutors does the 20 percent of the talking, in order to get the student to do the 80 percent of the talking.