I believe that the best way to learn a subject -- no matter how basic or advanced -- is to first thoroughly understand the basics. Only after making this knowledge truly your own, will you be able to apply these concepts -- not only to the subject at hand, but in other subjects also. A good example of this is logarithms. Not only do you need to know how to apply logarithms to algebra, but they also play a critical role in subjects like chemistry, biology, physics, and statistics to name a few. I believe that it is extremely important to provide a solid foundation on which to build knowledge upon; however, this is sometimes difficult to do since everyone learns differently. I know this firsthand because when I was tutored as a child, I had frustrating moments where I was still unable to grasp an important concept even after a long session because I was force-fed information. In my experience, I have found the best way to overcome this is by engaging in active/associative learning by utilizing analogies, clever mnemonics, and funny stories. In this manner, you will actually understand and retain important concepts that will not only help you now, but later on as well.
I have tutored middle school students for my church with great success and loved seeing that "eureka" moment when students finally made the connection. Rather than relying on rote memorization and shortcuts, I have found that the best way to boost confidence and produce results is to guide my students in the right direction -- not push them. And as a current student myself, I have firsthand experience when it comes to efficiently understanding and applying academic concepts.
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