Study is Hard Work by William H. Armstrong

1156272The text down the left side of the cover says that Study is Hard Work is “the most accessible and lucid text available on acquiring and keeping study skills through a lifetime”, and the table of contents points in that direction with headings like “The Desire to Learn” and “Acquiring Skill in Methods”.

I gobbled up the first few chapters which discuss the importance of listening, getting more from what you read, and the merits of scheduling your study. I found myself nodding and marking a couple of well written lines that I agree with.

After that Armstrong breaks out study strategies by subject, and it quickly becomes apparent that this book is aimed at middle and high school readers. How to build your vocabulary using prefixes and suffixes. How to outline a textbook chapter. How to structure a paragraph. While I could glean some tidbits from the first section there was nothing for me here.

Something that struck me is how much education has changed since this book was written in 1956. Armstrong talks extensively about tests that require paragraphs and full essays as answers, while much of what I encountered in school was short answer or multiple choice. I suspect that the balance has shifted even more in that direction since I graduated.  It’s refreshing that he doesn’t resort to “hacks” or how to rig technology to make your study more efficient, but the focus on middle school level material doesn’t suit me well. Might be good for a young person, but lifelong learners can move on.

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