Analyzing the poem “Students” by Tom Wayman
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The Poem, “Students,” by Tom Wayman talks about four theories of learning. The first theory presented in this poem is, “The Vaccination Theory of Education,” (line 12). This theory speaks about students who feel that once they have completed a subject, they never have to look at it again. Students who fall into this category develop a sense of immunity once they have written a test on a particular unit of a subject. Unfortunately these students often forget everything that they have learned. This habit could potentially become negative when it comes to their diploma exams, or even in the beginning of a new course that requires certain prerequisite knowledge.
The second theory proposed is called “The Dipstick Theory,” (line 17). This is probably the most popular theory amongst students. Students that fall into this category feel that just getting by is good enough and that a mere passing grade is acceptable. This theory is common in unmotivated students who are unable to commit to the learning process. In order to improve this, students need to aim for something high to strive for. This method is quite beneficial and essential to a successful student because when one sets such minimal goals, the risk of failure increases. For example, consider two students taking English.
One of these students sets a goal at the beginning of the course of 80%, the other wishes only to pass with a 50%. The risk that the unmotivated student has is much greater, as they are doing just enough to get by and could easily come up a little short when all is said and done. Another issue that occurs is in university enrolment time. It’s quite ironic that when those students, who were satisfied with just getting by, when applying for post-secondary education, they become substantially less satisfied. Suddenly a realization dawns on them, “why didn’t I work harder?” Many of these students end up retaking courses they did not work hard enough the first time.
The third theory was developed by the teacher himself. Mr. Wayman offers “The Kung Fu Theory of Education” as an alternative. This theory suggests that learning is a form of self-defense. Learning can actually help defend students from problems and difficulties that may be encountered in life. People studying Kung Fu don’t simply learn one punch or kick, but rather, they are always searching for new techniques that may assist them in a real life situation. The author believes that learning anything goes hand in hand with this concept of Kung Fu. Mr. Wayman’s theory shows that it is not the content or literature itself that is important, but instead how the learning process can help lead to success in one’s life.
The final theory that the writer is talking about as being held by students is “The Easy Listening Theory,” (line 32). This theory describes students who believe that they can pay attention and learn while listening to music. Students that fall in this category, put their headphones on and enjoy a more “pleasant world” and when questioned by their teachers, the “Easy Listening Student” will assure them that they are listening to everything that is being taught. As to whether or not those students are telling the truth, only their grades and knowledge will tell.
The main message that the speaker is trying to send is that of “lifelong that to learning”: that results and marks should not be the main focus of a student but rather the learning process itself.