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Knowing how to apply what you have learned

There were once two Engineering students that graduated from university with very high GPAs who regretted studying the wrong fields. They should have majored in literature and in commerce, respectively. However, they were very lucky that they knew early in their 20s what their interests were since they still had time to change fields. Unfortunately, there are many, who in their mid-60s, look back at their life and regret working in a field that they were not passionate about. Furthermore, some even find themselves covered in a pile of debt after receiving a degree they don’t know how to use.


The search for one’s interest and passion is a life-long journey which all must take very seriously because it may determine one’s direction in life. However in today’s article, I would like to speak about a topic which is just as important if not more: constantly practicing and applying all that you have learned. 


Reading an article in the magazine or a new book provides us with new knowledge. However, knowledge alone without application is useless. By being inspired by some ideas, we can apply the changes in our thoughts and ultimately our behaviors for the betterment of ourselves and hopefully society. 


As parents, we can start to help our kids to know how to apply what they have learned in school, in their daily life. Previously I talked about a few concepts with regards to wealth management: exponential function to depict the idea of compound interest and linear function for simple interest. After 20 or 30 years in some cases, the return of investment could be triple or quadruple the original amount. Below are a few more cases where kids can practice mathematical concepts:


  1. To teach the value of money, parents can give money to their kids to pay for the bill after a meal and to count the change. 

  2. To teach the concept of ratio and velocity for secondary students, during one’s trip from Montreal to Toronto, parents can ask their kids how long it would take before they arrived if they drove at a speed of 100 km/hour consistently with 320 km left to go. (ans: 3.2 hours) 

  3. To teach the concept of fractions and decimal conversion, parents can continue by asking how many minutes 0.2 hours is equal to. You can show that 0.2 = 2/ 10 = 1/5 and since one hour equals 60 minutes, 60 x (1/5) or 60 x (0.2) = 12 minutes. Therefore, it would take 3 hours and 12 minutes to arrive in Toronto. 


Below are more cases of things that we can read about daily and that we can apply:

  1. TheBucket Listis a 2007 American comedy-drama film directed by Rob Reiner. During their time in the ward, both Carter and Edward seem to find common ground as they have intellectual personalities. Carter begins writing a ‘bucket list’, or things to do before he ‘kicks the bucket’ (i.e., dies).  A lesson that we can all learn and apply is that we should try to accomplish all the things in our bucket list or help our loved ones accomplish theirs as early as possible while we still can.

  2. When we read psychological books talking about the three natural responses of an animal that feels threatened – fight, run away or stand firm, we can learn to raise our adversity quotient (AQ) by knowing that we should not be intimidated and give up when we face difficulties. In turn, we should learn to overcome them.

  3. We can adapt the concept of normal distribution in many areas.  For example, if the grades of an exam in school turn out to be normally distributed, we can all agree that it is a well-written test.  Also, in commerce, the life cycle of any product is a normal distribution. So if you know that a product is in the period of decay, you can either introduce a new product to replace the old one or redesign the old one and repackage it to launch again.


In conclusion, learning is life-long and people shouldn’t simply learn to get new knowledge. Hopefully we can all learn in order to improve ourselves by applying the knowledge that we have acquired and improve our relationships with others, our financial situations, bottlenecks that we face or simply to find out more about our blind spots. In the end, you will see that those that flourish in life are those that able to convert their knowledge into daily applications and making adaptations through critical thinking. 


Looking back do you think that there were moments where you had what was needed but didn't know how to solve the problem?

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