Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Thursday, April 04, 2013


by Domenick J. Maglio PhD., Traditional Realist

Excellence in any area takes discipline. We may do an activity that naturally comes easily but to improve our skills it takes constant repetition. The same work ethic is necessary whether a subject is easily understood or not to become a quality student.

Most of us had favorite subject areas in school. Even as preschoolers students display a greater ability and interest in language arts or mathematics. These inclinations often remain the same throughout the school years although successful students overcome their genetic predispositions and become competent in both areas.

Normally students gravitate to activities that are less difficult for them to accomplish. Children who have natural abilities in language arts easily find success, which leads to self-reinforcement to continue the activity. The student then receives acknowledgment by others of how well he is doing. This translates into pleasant experiences whenever he participates in many things related to language arts. This same type of positive feedback loop takes place with children naturally endowed with mathematical skills.

Areas of strength can be used to build motivation to spend the necessary time to improve and begin to enjoy difficult material. At the completion of the less interesting subject the child can be rewarded with activities he enjoys. As the student learns new skills in these previously shunned subjects these activities become more tolerable. These subjects can then be used to reinforce the things the child finds more difficult. Eventually, as the student's abilities increase the like-ability of the new learning activity increases.

The most difficult challenge for most students is to conquer their reluctance to fail in areas of difficulty and limited interest. Things that are hard to master take perseverance. These students need to develop mini skills that allow the person to begin to experience some sense of being on the right track. Stringing these skills together gives the student the foundation for future success in the once difficult area of studies.

In other areas besides the critical math and language art areas for academic success children have natural abilities such as in sports, drama, science, music and fine arts. This strength area should be recognized and used as motivation to improve areas that once were difficult. These natural abilities should be the foundation to teach lessons of excellence.

To show the child he is uniquely blessed the teacher should exploit these natural talents.  These strong ability areas can be highlighted in the classroom to increase peer acceptance and boost the child's own competency level.

Students should not be un-empowered by allowing them to voice a stream of nonsense excuses that erode their resolve to accomplish their academic goals. The manipulative games they play to soften up the teachers to give them higher grades than they deserve should immediately be stopped.

Short cuts need to be exposed. The insufficient work should be redone in a correct and thorough manner. Students should be shown that doing something right the first time might initially take longer but in the long run it is shorter than doing it several times.

By the teacher hammering home these obvious careless mistakes by the pupil, the student will eventually realize that slowing down to be precise and neat is a better policy than trying to rush through his work. Students will learn the need and art of self-editing.

Children will realize that through working carefully until an idea, a series of concepts or skills are internalized they can learn anything they choose independently. The students begin to appreciate the power of their minds. The person has been converted to be an enthusiastic learner.

These exercises of one's mind to improve skills and abilities take discipline. Any well thought out regime of activities that are established by self or others can change a weakness into a strength. Through learning to increase ones focus a person can gain his goals.

Learning discipline in one area spreads to other areas until the student knows making excuses for not doing something is nothing but lies. If a person is willing to pay the price of applying his "willpower" he can accomplish the seemingly impossible. The student that learns how to focus the power of his mind is launched as an incredible independent learner.

Dr. Maglio is an author and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at


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