I’m about to tell a long-ish story because I want you all to know about the possible wonders of learning by association. (I say possible because everyone’s brain works differently and there is no guarantee this will work for everyone, but it undoubtedly worked for me,)
I lost my love for math in third grade when a teacher screamed at me for not understanding instead of making any legitimate effort to assist me. Until my junior year of high school I never got higher than a 68℅ on any math test. I almost never did my homework, it would just frustrate me. I was in AIS (Academic Intervention Services) for math EVERY SINGLE YEAR SINCE FIRST GRADE. I struggled with math endlessly in high school, which was frustrating because I did well in everything else (I was one of three people in my history class to get in the 90’s on the mid term and I almost never even did any homework) so, I was angry, and I was frustrated that math just never seemed to get through my thick skull. It also didn’t help that I was an avid daydreamer and math just could not, at that point, keep my attention. Teachers had to explain to me how to do things ten times in five different ways for me to at least partially understand it. That was, until I decided to try something.
Junior year, Geometry class, we’d get a big packet of notes and a big packet of homework. I took the packets, copied every single page, cut them up, and taped them into a Transformers comic. (It took fucking hours and I prayed my efforts would pay off because I needed to pass this class and I was not going to summer school again) I started doing my homework every night, I actually started remembering what I’d learned. I paid more attention in class and when I was taking notes. I remembered concepts and procedures better because I could remember that I’d seen it and learned about it while Starscream or whoever was on the page doing something. I also found I was more motivated, at that point, to open a comic book than my math packet. That year I passed my class with something in the 80’s, I didn’t fail a single test, and I got an 85℅ on the final (I know to many that doesn’t seem that great but to someone who has basically been failing their entire life it’s almost tear worthy) I call this method Learning by Association.
Because I can name 100 transformers from memory, what they did, who they are, where they came from, etc. But I could not, for the life of me, tell you a damn thing about a single math problem. By pairing what I am more motivated to know about with something that I have never been able to get a grip on, I created something that helped me grasp what I’d been missing for so long. I actually began to enjoy math. Because I still struggle quite a bit with math I do use my “Study Guides” as I called them. But they are not NECESSARY any more. I don’t need them to ENJOY math, but they’re still helpful in the teaching aspect.
I hated. HATED math, with a burning passion, until my junior year of high school, because I began to associate it with something I LOVE. Hell, if I’d had transformers character questions in my physics class first semester I imagine I might’ve done a little better. (Didn’t do bad, wasn’t great either.)
In the end I became a Mechanical Engineering major, a decision which was fueled by my life long love of robots and machines (not transformers, my first love was Isaac Asimov books) but anyways. To anyone struggling, I highly recommend trying learn by association.
This year, for my chemistry class, I’ve recorded every lecture so far and I play them over muted episodes of Transformers Prime where I then pretend the characters are speaking with my professors voice. Strange, maybe, but still works. Megatron has taught me about Wavelengths.