At Tokyo Academics, achieving an A in AP Biology (or any other course) shouldn’t be the end of the journey. We want to teach students great study habits, effective learning techniques, and ways to stay focused by providing them with tools to prepare for lifelong learning. A key piece of this is also learning how to apply knowledge and make (and sometimes break) things.
In this vein, we wanted to let everyone know about some of the exciting things happening behind the scenes. We’ve gathered the best tutors and students in Japan, and despite being busy with test prep and a multitude of school subjects, our tutors and students have been finding ways to do even more.
If you’re interested in getting more involved or doing a project, sign up for a class to learn the basics, talk to your tutor, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! While getting your academics and target test scores on track are the highest priority, we’re always happy to figure out how we can help you reach the next level.
Continuing on the last post's theme of getting things done, here's the Tokyo Academics philosophy on distraction. We hear from many of our students (and parents!) that they face endless distractions. The world has a seemingly infinite number of people, places, things, ideas, and advertisements, all seeking a share of our time. How do we block this all out and focus?
There are three main categories of distraction:
A) Rehearsal loops: Your mind goes in circles remembering what you need to do instead of doing what you need to do
B) Environmental: The ambient level of noise and disturbances where you are working lowers your productivity
C) Impulses / events: Intrusions by electronic messages, visitors, phone calls, etc. jolt you out of your concentration
At Tokyo Academics, we have ways we use to limit each of these:
A) Rehearsal loops
C) Impulses / events
Lastly, if you ever need a quiet, supervised, and central place to study, all of our students are always welcome to work at the Tokyo Academics learning center, whether they have a lesson or not.
"It doesn't matter if you want to be an artist or an engineer or a scientist - if you're not organized, you're not going to get anything done." -Overheard at Tokyo Academics
Ever have a busy day but end up not accomplishing anything? Ever feel like you're doing a lot of work but not really getting any closer to your goals? Quite a few parents and students have asked about this, so to get everyone else in the loop, I'm writing about a tool we use at Tokyo Academics to focus on the most important things, and in the right priority.
A. Write all your tasks down
Your brain constantly reminds you about the things you have to do ("rehearsal loops"). This takes energy and brainpower. Transfer this mental load onto paper, and you stop having to keep 50 things in your mind distracting you while you're trying to focus on accomplishing something.
B. Prioritize your tasks
Listing the tasks in order of importance already helps quite a bit. Even better than listing things in importance, is evaluating them by urgency (how soon you have to do them). Many of us at TA use a tool to do just that. The Eisenhower matrix helps us by listing our tasks into four quadrants:
Do tasks based on the order of the quadrants: 1, then 2, maybe 3, but almost never 4
Edit: Below, we have an example of this chart filled out by one of our very own students.
Quite a few of you have asked us about about summer programs lately. The idea of your children experiencing campus life, mixing with other students their age, all at a prestigious university, is surely tantalizing, but parents are also wary of these camps. Are kids accruing valuable academic and personal experience while away for several weeks, or are these programs merely peddling the impression of prestige?
At Tokyo Academics, our experience is that there are 2 things you should look out for when deciding whether a summer camp (or general academic program) is worth attending.
Applying these 2 criteria considerably shortens the list of summer camps in the consideration set. Even some of the most prestigious schools in the US are guilty of essentially outsourcing summer programs to unrelated companies, providing little more than their brand and campus space.
The very best among summer camps are those dedicated to gathering the brightest students within a particular discipline and exposing them to genuine university-level education. Here are 6 great examples sorted by academic areas:
General - Center for Talented Youth (CTY) at John Hopkins University
Politics - JSA program at Georgetown University
Journalism - Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute
Business - Leadership in the Business World, The Wharton School - University of Pennsylvania
Literature - Syracuse University Summer College: Creative Writing – Fiction & Poetry Program
Performing Arts - The Pre-College Drama Program at Carnegie Mellon University
Overseas programs like these, which satisfy both purpose and selectiveness, are likely to be great for your kids' academic enrichment. But let's not forget that students don't have to fly thousands of miles away to have a rewarding summer: there are opportunities here in Japan as well. More on these, as well as what we're working on at TA, in a later blog post.