Review: Study is Hard Work

What a treasure of a book! Study is Hard Work is written by William Armstrong. It is a very small paperback book back to the brim with wisdom. I have been reading this aloud to my older kids each morning.

It is a fantastic book that puts the need to learn squarely on the shoulders of the student. The first chapter talks about listening – learning to listen is learning to follow the leader. The student who listens is the student who learns, because listening, above everything else, makes the task of acquiring knowledge easier. But poor listening is worse than none.

In the next chapter, he states, “if you cannot find in your heart and soul┬áthe desire to learn, then you need not expect help from without.” He uses Abraham Lincoln as an example of what can be done with very little – few teachers, only a couple of books, learning time is restricted to what he can do in between chores – but he had desire to excel and the willpower to do it.

He explains that education’s goals are perception, thought and communication. There are 3 skills in education – the skill of finding what you want, the skill of fixing in your mind, and the skill of organizing it for use. And, there are three tools of education – time, books, and teachers – and time is the most precious and limited resource (i.e. you can have all the books and resources in the world at your fingers, but you can’t get more time in a day). He says “books are the memory of mankind”.

Most of the first two chapters is just affirming the fact that the student is ultimately responsible for his education. I know homeschooling families are stretched for time. And, we often suffer from guilt over the fact that we cannot provide better resources or more time or more outside classes for our students. But this book affirms the fact that students can learn in even poor conditions. And then he discusses how to do this. Word of warning … in the end there are no tricks or shortcuts. Ultimately it is about learning to discipline yourself to listen carefully, develop and follow a schedule and then some specific how – to’s.


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