Excelling at English, Literature and the Social Sciences
High School and University students of Social Sciences and Humanities subjects such as Psychology, Philosophy, Sociology, Economics, English Literature, Law and Education often struggle with learning and communicating the sophisticated content in these subjects because they haven’t learned the advanced reading and study skills required at senior levels of education.
Students who treat learning as remembering are approaching their study with the wrong mindset – so they waste a lot of the effort they are putting in, and don’t get the marks they want. The thing is, there is no right or wrong answer – senior students are expected to apply their understanding of concepts in new situations, not just regurgitate information.
It is much easier to remember information that you understand deeply so the focus needs to be on analysis and high-powered comprehension. This approach also makes writing essays and doing exams easier and faster because you are much clearer on what you need to communicate in your work.
Social Science and Humanities subjects contain a lot of specialised jargon so our highest priority is to teach students effective and efficient strategies for learning the meanings of the jargon words.
The most confusing words are those that have a different meaning to the one the word has in normal speech. Words such as ‘demand’ in Economics, ‘intelligence’ in Psychology, and ‘tragedy’ in English Literature, all have specialised meanings. Failure to understand and learn the differences in such words is a leading cause of failure in Social Science and Humanities subjects.
All students should be following a step-by-step process for writing essays and other materials from Junior High School on. As students progress to higher levels, the strategy does not change although it does need to be adapted slightly as the concepts discussed become more abstract and sophisticated. The process is easy to learn and follow, but does require practice so that it is mastered to the point that essays can be written quickly under exam conditions.
Many students in the Humanities and Social Sciences did not do well in Math at earlier levels of their education so they get a big shock when they find out that Statistics and Research Methods are major components of most courses, and are usually compulsory subjects. Unless the key concepts in these subjects are mastered early it becomes almost impossible for many students to keep up with these courses, let alone get good marks. This is one of the main reasons people drop out of Social Science courses.
People like to be entertained when they read but that is NOT why most authors write in the first place – authors usually have some message to pass on to their audience. Consequently, to be successful, authors need to entertain their audience so they will read or view their work.
English Literature is the study of the authors and their ideas about the world, so students must be skilled at understanding fiction as a metaphor (a way of hiding a message or argument inside a story). Once this is understood and appropriate techniques learnt, even studying writers such as Shakespeare becomes a much more straight-forward and rewarding process.
Many students struggle to get through all the materials required in these language-rich courses because their basic reading skills are not strong. Speed reading courses are not the answer and often lead to great frustration and even worse results. Unless the cause of the problem is dealt with, or suitable techniques are used to compensate for the problem, students will need to put in enormous amounts of time to succeed in these subjects.
We provide expert one-to-one English and Social Science tutoring in your home using the internet or at our office in Adelaide, South Australia.
Contact us now to find out how we can help your child in English and Social Science subjects.
Talk to a Specialist Educator by phone or online to discuss your child’s High School study issues and how we can help.