Image source: http://youngteacherlove.com/smooth-sailing-into-new-school-year/

Setting Goals for the Coming School Year

By: Farheen Khan – Viva Learn Content Contributor

So, I woke up the other day, at 9:00 am, and thought to myself, Wow. It’s not 6:00 amAnd if truth be told, that has been my frequent, first-thought-in-the-morning since summer break started. One might muse that it is an insipid sort of occurrence and those such ones I would label as highly unsympathetic. Summertime is freedom-time and it is incumbent upon thoughts of all sorts to run wild. Moreover, summer is when one can use the respective lifestyle to mock the lifestyle of the school year.

To all those revelers, their minds heady with the summer scents and sunshine, I apologize; enjoy what is left of your vacation! August will come to a close before you realize. Therefore, I urge you to start thinking about preparing for the coming school year and endeavor to make it more successful than the last. Whilst frolicking among flowers try to target the areas in which you struggled last year, whether they be subjects or learning skills. Whilst mooning about the park try to remember where you threw all of your binders and notes, and what you have to discard for good and what you might like to keep. And then, sometime in the near future, brave the dust, and actually plunge into organizing the afore-mentioned notes and making a list of things you might have to buy, borrow or steal.

It is prudent to set the tone for the coming school year before it is actually upon you so that you will be more inclined and prepared to pursue your goals. And it is important to be set goals. As I mentioned already, try to think of areas in which you were deficient and ways in which you can improve your performance. Your goals do not necessarily have to be academically oriented; they can concern your behaviour towards others, the way in which you think about school, a club that you might want to start, etc. Whatever else they may be, your goals should be realistic ones so that you will be more inclined to pursue and accomplish them. And remember, as soon as you complete one goal you must set a new one immediately; your journey at school is as much about self-development as it is about academics: you are capable of as many things in the realm of infinity as you yourself set out to reach.

In short, good luck for the coming school year! Brace yourselves if you must but, truth be told, I think that everything is going to go just swimmingly.

How to Be a Better Public Speaker (for Students)

By: Farheen, Viva Learn Content Contributor

Public speaking sucks. That’s just a fact. Alas, it’s a necessary evil: teachers can’t get enough of it, parents love seeing their kids on display, and – as I was told by my English teacher – out in the “real world,” it’s a multi-million dollar skill. Figures; all the things that are generally despised are good for you, like eating vegetables.

As much as I complain about it though, I’m not a bad public speaker, and that’s not because my speeches are particularly good or awe-inspiring but because, after years of observation, I’ve developed, what is termed “stage presence”. Of course, communicating worthwhile material is a fantastic idea but the way in which that material is communicated is, arguably, more important. If you can hold people’s attention for a longer period of time, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say, and that is the goal: to get people to listen to what you have to say.

So here’s how you do it:

  1. Realize that the audience hasn’t shown up to chuck tomatoes at you: There is no need to be afraid of the audience. They are there to listen to you and your ideas/views/opinions.
  2. Fake it till you make it: Walk on to the stage with confidence, even if you’d rather weep in a dark dingy corner. Look your audience in the eye and even try to smile before you begin speaking. The more confidence you exude, the more the audience will straighten their spines and become excited to hear what you have to say and hence, actually listen.
  3. Realize that you are a human being: What’s this? Dry lips, clammy hands, and a heart that’s probably accelerating at a pace that’s clearly not heathy? Good news! This proves that you are a human being and not a robot. Use this to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to employ hand gestures; don’t worry about stuttering every now and then; walk around a little bit; if you want to chuckle at a joke you’ve just made, even if the audience doesn’t, go for it! Make fun of yourself afterwards too if you like! This will help not only you loosen up and become more confident, but will establish you as a human being in front of the audience, not a robot: nobody wants to listen to an uptight, tight-lipped, monotonous droid. Would you?
  4. Tableaus are only cool in a play: Don’t freeze up if you forget a few words from your immaculately memorized speech. Turn it into a pause and make something up; no one will know as long as you say those words with confidence (remember: fake it till you make it). In fact, I’ve found, that it’s probably a good idea to not memorize your speech completely. Remember the key points and what you generally plan to say about them, but there’s no need to ingrain every single “and”, “therefore”, “you know what I’m saying?” in your brain: not doing so will give you a more natural speaking style thereby, establishing a more human presence on stage.
  5. Remember that you’re awesome: Refer to the above heading.

Follow Your Dreams – Advice from a Grade 12 Student

By: Farheen, Viva Learn Content Contributor

follow your dreamsSo, a few months ago, I got a jarring and stinging slap to the face. It was a figurative one, but painful nonetheless. I was hit by the fact that I was in my last year of high school and university application season was coming up. The realization that I would soon have to assimilate myself into real life and make decisions that would impact my future as an adult was terrifying and overwhelming, and I felt like a chicken running around without a head.

Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one who was feeling this way; the rest of my friends were in the same predicament. For the first time in our lives, we were forced to consider the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with some degree of seriousness.

This brings me to my best friend. Up to the point of a few months ago, as long as I’ve known her, she has wanted to be a veterinarian. It was the one thing she was absolutely set on, and to me that was enthralling and inspiring. So you can imagine my surprise when she came out to me and said that she was considering not going into that field anymore. Apparently, after combing through university programs and peering into the abyss of reality, she perceived that the path to a veterinary future was fraught by thorns of grueling years of study, expensive education and a pittance of an income in comparison to other fields. Knowing her as I do, I knew that it wasn’t the studying that was worrying her but the financial aspect and despite how reasonable her arguments against being a vet were, I also knew that deep down, her soul was rebelling against the thought of giving up on her dreams.

So, as any good friend, I looked her hard in the eye and shook her even harder. I reminded her that if she didn’t give it at least a shot, she would always be wondering “What if?” and nothing is worse for corroding the soul than the rust of regret.

Follow your dreams. Answer your calling. Just the idea of reality and taking responsibility for your choices is as petrifying as swallowing a frog whole. But that is even more reason to pursue whatever you love: we all need passion to guide us and lift us, through and above the scary obstacles of the world outside of desks, chairs, chalkboards and textbooks. Though I’ve only existed for seventeen years, I’ve found that usually when people strive hard enough for something, the Universe, as cruel as it may seem sometimes – complies with one’s efforts and can even take them to situations that turn out way better than ever imagined.

Remember, it’s worth it to chase after what you love.