Student-Teacher Advice Column – “What Do I Do If I Don’t Enjoy A Subject Or Class?”

“Do you have any tips and advice on how to do well in a subject or class that you either dislike or you struggle with the most?”


Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

Math is a challenging subject that many students despise. How do you get through the class without getting frustrated?

“Do you have any tips and advice on how to do well in a subject or class that you either dislike or you struggle with the most?”

Student Advice

In order to get a proper education, you may be faced with learning subjects you find don’t interest you. However, it won’t stay like this too long, as many classes build off of those fundamentals. Sadly, there isn’t much you can do about these problems, as those things you learn will be fundamental. Later when you advance through the levels of school, though, you will find yourself picking the classes you want to take in your future career path.

For example, basic math tends to be very tedious to learn, and you may find yourself frustrated when you have to repeat the same equations over and over again. Sadly, you can’t slip over these lessons because I’ve found that everything builds off of it, making it almost impossible to understand math in later grades if you don’t understand the current practices. Although there aren’t many ways to make this process go away, sometimes you just have to push through and make the best out of it.

Say you signed up for something you later regretted signing up for. Maybe it could be a science fair or a reading competition. If you are no longer interested in the subject, many people would decide to quit and let some other people fill your spot. However, this would let down whoever sponsored the team, and your teammates. If you can’t quit, the next best thing would be to push through and do the best you can. You could mope and continue telling yourself you don’t want to do it, but that solves nothing.

Although many people could say that it’s acceptable for children our age to be frustrated, just remember that being upset about the curriculum does nothing. Just about every successful person in the world has had to do and push through a lesson they don’t find enjoyable, but the really successful people in the world work to pursue the level of education they need.

Just remember that if you have a decent teacher, they’ll tell you how the lessons impact you in real life. If they have an explanation, it’s really eye-opening. As another example, learning how to write a good story may seem pointless if you don’t want to become a writer. However, learning proper grammar and word flow would help with just about any job. Just about every job needs social interaction, which is ten times easier if you can write a fluent email.

Overall, don’t give up, and remember that your frustration is short term. Just push through, and keep your head up.


Teacher Advice

This is such an important question and one that will come up again and again as you get older. Unfortunately, a crucial part of growing up and gaining more freedom is accepting that sometimes, you just have to push through completing the things that need to get done, even if you don’t necessarily enjoy them (or accel in them). This absolutely applies to school! If there is a subject you struggle with or that you just don’t enjoy, I suggest sitting down and thinking about why you are being asked to master that subject. Try to put yourself in the perspective of those all-powerful adults who sat in a room one day and decided that you needed to master writing “how-to” articles and applying the Pythagorean theorem every chance you get, or whatever the task at hand may be (man, I would love to be one of those adults in power, but alas, I am not!). Figure out what it is you are gaining from studying a subject that you don’t like or struggle with, and hopefully, that gives you the drive to endure. This can be much harder than it sounds, and you probably won’t want to do any of it, but it’ll help you gain insight into why we ask for you to complete tasks that don’t necessarily bring you joy.

As an adult, I want all of my students to feel successful and fulfilled in school, but I understand that that desire does not always match up to reality. If I’m being honest, when I think back to the things I am most proud of accomplishing, they always involve incidences when I rose to the challenge and accomplished a goal I didn’t particularly enjoy. For example, when I was in 8th grade, my math teacher asked me to participate in the regional math fair for the county I grew up in New York. If you know me, you will know that I am an English teacher for a reason: no other subject calls to me the way English does, and math especially is not my friend. I always tried hard and did my best to make myself and my parents proud in my math classes, but I never enjoyed it. Another thing you should know about me is that I’m a total sucker and have a hard time saying “no” to people (although adulthood has helped me get much better at this!). I think you can see where I’m going with this – I agreed to be in the math fair, hated every second of prepping for it, but when I got up there to present, something really cool happened: I learned I was a pretty decent public speaker! I felt pride about my silly presentation about Fibonacci number sequences, and the people I presented to seemed to feed off of that and enjoy my work. It may have also helped that I got a silver medal and my friendly math-prodigy rival only got a bronze, but I don’t think I’m supposed to admit to that part of the story. Don’t tell anyone, okay?

Ultimately, I approach any task I’m not enthusiastic about as a challenge I need to overcome, and I’m super annoying in that I try to find at least one positive thing about it to pull me through. This really irritates my peers who want to fully complain, and I get that, but complaining and stomping your feet in protest, however satisfying, ultimately accomplishes nothing. So I push through and remain optimistic that I’m going to be better for it at the end of any task I find loathsome. Let’s be honest, sometimes that’s not always true. Sometimes you just have to do things you don’t want to do, but I’ve always found that while I can’t always control what is thrown at me, I do have control over how I approach it and respond. I focus on what is fulfilling in my life and employ all of my determination in what I find challenging and/or unexciting. When it comes to school, this same approach applies. Always try to do your best, even if it’s not a subject you love, and focus on the accomplishment you feel after each task completed. Even if it’s just the accomplishment of surviving through it. And if it helps, trust me, you’re not in this alone. At any given moment, you will be able to find someone else who’s just making it through. At the end of the day, if you can find a reason to be proud of yourself just for being resilient, you are going to be much happier for it.