Archive for October 3rd, 2013

After a recent exam in which many of my students failed, I asked them to write a brief statement reflecting on what they could do differently before the next exam. The most common response by far was that they would study longer before the next exam. I don’t want to discourage students from studying, but I thought that this situation required an addendum to Anti-Procrastination Metaphor #2. As you probably don’t recall, this metaphor involves students brushing their teeth:

Imagine two people visit the dentist for a cleaning and are told to return in six months.  The first person brushes her teeth for two minutes twice a day (four total minutes per day) every day for six months, spending 12 total hours brushing her teeth between dentist appointments.  The second person does not brush her teeth at all for five months and 29 days but spends 12 hours brushing her teeth on the day before her dentist appointment.  Which person’s teeth would you rather have?

To this I would add:

After visiting the dentist and finding that her teeth were, in fact, covered in plaque and cavities, the second person vows to brush her teeth for 24 hours in the days immediately preceding her next dentist appointment while the first person continues to brush her teeth for two minutes twice a day. Which person’s teeth would you rather have? Why doesn’t doubling the amount of time spent brushing her teeth get the second person’s teeth as clean as the first person’s?

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