School study tips: How to deal with aversion to subjects

Walk into any class in any school and ask the students whether there are any subjects which they ‘hate.’ At least half the class will raise their hands. Only the toppers, or those who have all-round intelligence and wide thinking will say that they are comfortable studying all the subjects being taught to them. All the others suffer from phobias, aversion, and anger or frustration when forced to study some subjects they just cannot connect to.

The basic fault lies in the system because students are not introduced properly to any subject that is going to be taught to them. No one explains what the subject is all about, how important it is for their future, what is its relevance to daily life, and what careers can be carved out of it. This is an important link that can ensure better learning.

If a person joins Military service, even as an officer, for weeks and months he has to go through the rigors of polishing his shoes and brass, marching on parades, trekking through jungles, cleaning and maintaining weapons, learning First Aid, etc. Initially it may appear frivolous why he should learn all that – but that is the training that makes our army one of the best in the world, with men fit to tackle any invasion or challenge. Similarly, the Indian education system ensures that a student learns a wide range of subjects, goes through rigorous and repetitive tests and exams, and hence he can perform exceedingly well in global competition. If that was not true, we would not have had Satya Nadella as CEO of Microsoft or Indira Nooyi as CEO of Pepsico.

At the same time it is important to make students understand the value of every subject and its usefulness in later life. Based on my interactions with teachers and students, I have listed down a few such points:


History helps us understand the behavior of human beings, and thus understand how people are likely to react in certain situations. Remember the proverb “History repeats itself”? Thus we can learn from the past (and the mistakes of others) how to lead our life today. We can even predict how society, the markets or lifestyles are likely to change so that we can adapt suitably. History also builds a sense of culture and belonging. It helps us to understand evolution and thus appreciate what we have today.


Geography gives us a sense of direction, helps us get around by understanding the physical characteristics of nature and the world around us. We can appreciate diverse cultures, climates (including weather forecasting), explore every part of the world, particularly in today’s global environment wherein travel has become so convenient. We develop a sense of location, distances and areas.


Civics gives us an insight into the social fabric that we are a part of, it tells us about how to live in civilized society, how to appreciate a democratic setup like ours and to improve interpersonal relations. We can understand our rights better. It stimulates critical thinking and helps us to make our life more harmonious with different types of people and communities.


All languages have an important role to play in helping us improve communication, understand others and be understood by others. They expand our horizon of knowledge, and are our windows for the thinking process. We can express in the form of writing, poetry, dramatics, debating, convincing and marketing. They help us relate to different types of people all over the world.

  1. An International language like English is our window to the rest of the world, the most obvious one being the World Wide Web or the Internet. Anywhere in the world we can be comfortable if we can communicate well in English.
  2. Our link language Hindi binds the nation together. At a time when countries are falling apart, we can be proud of being such a cohesive and democratic nation, and can thus be proud of our national language.
  3. The state language similarly binds us to the poorest and simplest of all people in the state, since our forefathers took the trouble to reorganize the country into linguistic states. Even illiterate persons find it easy to communicate with each other since the entire state is based on one language.
  4. Your mother tongue is the language that your forefathers have spoken over many generations. It brings down to you their culture, their ideology and their values. It is something that you can cherish because it is your own identity, and it is the language that binds you to all your family members and your community. Even if you are not studying your mother tongue in school, you should learn it by yourself.
  5. Sanskrit, the mother of all languages, takes us back to our roots and the very beginning of civilization. As you are aware, Indian culture and heritage was far advanced compared to the rest of the world many centuries ago. And Sanskrit is the language that connects us to our glorious past. Even if you decide to eventually settle down in some other country, the traditions and wisdom that you will carry through because of Sanskrit will be your permanent asset.
  6. Foreign languages open the doors to other countries, particularly some of the progressive countries like Japan, France, Germany, who have contributed tremendously to the world, and have their own national languages. You will be able to work in those countries, visit them, learn from them or do business with them and make friends with them if you learn their language.


Science is the window to development, it ignites your curiosity and opens your eyes to the great wonders going on in the world around us. You develop an innovative mind and understand the laws of nature, how humans live in harmony with ecology. It is also the catalyst for change in society. Each part of science viz. physics, chemistry and biology, helps us understand different facets ranging from measurement of space and time, to interaction of materials, to living organisms. Together they constitute the essence of the entire world.


Math is the subject the sharpens our logical and reasoning powers, helps develop logical thinking, gives us the ability to calculate prices, manage money and understand the value of things. With a thorough understanding of Math we can safeguard our interests and be secure throughout life. We can use it to estimate, project, manipulate data, solve intricate problems of life, compare and evaluate. Geometry gives us a better understanding of space and areas.

Research has shown that students who understand and accept the usefulness of what they are studying, are not only more motivated resulting in better grades, but also enjoy their studies and learn deeper. During holidays students can be encouraged to find out more about the subjects they will be studying in the new academic year, and when the fresh term starts teachers can spend some valuable time giving an overview of the subject, its applications, and how it helps in life in general and in specific careers in particular.

Request to teachers

Please take the trouble to periodically describe and convince the students how the subject you are teaching would be of use to them in practical life, regardless of what career they take up. To do that successfully, you should be convinced about the usefulness of your subject. A motivated and committed teacher can easily ‘ignite’ the minds of her students, to quote the illustrious Dr. Abdul Kalam. And what we need today are ignited minds, not robots who memorize lessons only to reproduce them in exams.

Encourage your students to keep exploring on practical aspects, applications, and to give presentations or put up charts which can be useful to the subsequent batches also. It will make your work much easier.

By Ali Khwaja

Career Guidance

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