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I was talking to one of my students today about how to study for one of his classes. His Spanish teacher has him memorizing vocabulary by writing out the Spanish word and English definition 5 times each. That is it: 5 times. Honestly, even if he wrote them 10 times each, there would still be better ways to study for his quizzes. Students waste a lot of time and energy inefficiently studying for their classes. In the end, they become discouraged because they look at all of the effort they put into the process only to see mediocre results. Learning how to study for something is possibly the most important task with which a tutor can help. The great thing is that improving this one skill set will help in every academic area. There is a trick to studying. Well maybe trick is a bit of a misleading term, as it is likely only a trick to those who have not yet discovered it. The secret ingredient to a successful academic career is processing the information. The human brain operates... read more

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl was originally published in 1959. Since then, it has sold over 12 million copies. That is an astounding number for any work, but after you read it you will understand why it has been so influential. Frankl opens the book with an autobiographical account of his time spent in four different Nazi concentration camps. Before the war, he was a practicing psychiatrist and physician. When he was picked up and placed in his first camp he held on to a manuscript containing his life's works and theories up to that point. He pleaded with the guards to allow him to keep his most meaningful possession, but his pleas fell on deaf ears, and his years of painstaking effort and passion were wiped away. Some choose to give up and withdraw for far less powerful reasons, and for Frankl, his reasons to throw in the towel would only increase as the true horrors of concentration camp lifestyle were revealed to him. Informed by a combination of experiences... read more

I try to read as many interesting books as I can. Some are recommended by friends, some by the smart computers and preference interpreters of Amazon, and some I seem to just stumble into because of a catchy title or an indescribable quality. Huck's Raft by Steven Mintz definitely fits into this final category. I have worked as a youth camp director for a number of years, so the idea of historically tracking the roots of modern day American childhood seemed utterly fascinating to me. We look back in our culture today through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia and see previous generations' children unencumbered by media like television, the internet, movies, and smart phones. It is as if they lived in a veritable Garden of Eden in our cultural minds, untouched by violent video games and free to blow the seeds off daffodils and climb trees until nightfall. Mintz does a wonderful job of dispelling this misconceived version of events. Instead, he reminds the reader of the awfulness... read more

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