Tutor: The Joy of Achievement

Do elite test scores or amazing grades make us happy or does earning elite test scores or amazing grades make us happy?

Do you see the distinction?

Education, when conducted properly, is an ongoing process. The mere possession of knowledge–juicy secrets aside–fails to foster an enduring sense of satisfaction. Think, if you will, about the last time you learned something very important to you, information that may have been difficult to access or understand. Consider how you felt when you first acquired that knowledge. Do you still carry that feeling at the same intensity today?

If you are wondering why even the most delicious thrills fade in time, blame hedonic adaptation. Regardless of how intense our enjoyment is in a given moment, we always return to our baseline level of happiness. You might have been proud of your near-perfect test scores back in the day, but they probably don’t sustain your self-image anymore… at least not that much.

If having knowledge doesn’t make us happy for any reasonable length of time, what does? Satisfaction comes from the process of learning and attainment of mastery, particularly when we feel appropriately challenged and rewarded for our efforts.

Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort. In the realm of education, the journey really does mean more than the destination for tutors and pupils alike.

The more we effectively teach and facilitate the teaching success of others, the happier we tend to be in a professional sense. If you have a team, you may also feel as proud of the exceptional work your teachers do with your students as you feel about your own direct instruction.

The more professional challenges you take on, the more you open yourself to the possibility of greater satisfaction. Case in point, the pains of growing Chariot Learning, the Tests and the Rest podcast, the Test Prep Tribe Facebook group, my TestBright Curriculum System, or the National Test Prep Association pale compared to the immense pleasure taken in their ongoing success. Even this newsletter makes me happy, as does my new counselor newsletter, not at any specific moment but in a more general and pervasive sense.

Students (and their parents, of course) tend to focus on the numbers, as if the mere possession of a 1500 on the SAT endows someone with supernatural brilliance. What matters much more–and makes us much happier–is who we become on the way to our best scores, grades, and outcomes. Focus on the journey, and always keep looking ahead for your next challenges. Happiness lies in the joy of achievement.

— Mike Bergin

Tutor Tips, Tools, and Thoughts

Research Delves Into Link Between Test Anxiety and Poor Sleep
Anxiety and lack of sleep feed one another

How Wanting Less Leads to Satisfaction
The secret to satisfaction has nothing to do with achievement, money, or stuff.

A Valentine For Standardized Tests
I’m not the only one who loves great tests, am I?

Cognitive Scientists
You never know how handy a directory of cognitive scientists is until you need one!

Assessing Affirmative Action’s Diversity Rationale
There is support for the idea that diverse student bodies, faculties, and groups of employees generally perform better.

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