No, there is no secret. I have no secrets to tell here. This post is named this way as a comparison to the widely publicized book. The Secret is a book that presents what is claimed to be a centuries-old idea, the pseudo-scientific Law of Attraction, which in essence is the power of an individual's positive thinking to change and influence outcomes in their lives. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Secret_(book) . I never read the book, and I only about it from some of my students a couple of years.
I will write more on this subject in another post. For now, the quest for first class honours was essentially a case of mind over matter. If your mind is up to it, there is a lot you can achieve. Back then, I didn't know about any "secrets" but by Buddhist training thought me the power of the mind. At times, the going could be tough. To do well, we need a lot of discipline and proper time management. That's why I still remind the students to focus on their goals, have self discipline and manage their time well. Sadly, the message doesn't seem to get to them. Later maybe they'll know what I mean.
At times, it was not only the mental effort we need for the study. Sometimes we are physically drained too rushing to work and rushing to attend tutorials. Nowadays the students complain a lot when they have to study for the STPM in the comfort of their homes. I remember I had to brave the rain on a motorcycle so that I won't miss classes. These were the times I told myself, one day I'll be able to afford my own car. Even now, when I drive in the rain, my heart goes out to those on motorcycles...and I feel so thankful I am in a car.
During my final year, my routine would be to arrive at the campus by 8am whether I had lectures or not. Usually I'll stay until night. Between classes I would be in the library. To take my shower I would head to the swimming pool every evening, for exercise as well as to freshen up. That's when I picked up the finer points of swimming, a skill I made good use of as a teacher. For most of the courses I would make my own notes and make compilations of answers to past year questions. I was told some of the notes were still in circulation a few years after I graduated. To make sure my average grade did not drop below par, I also put in extra effort in the non-core subjects we had to take. I even got A's for the music and sociology papers I took. The effort was rewarding..not only did I secure my first clss honours, I even manage to win the Best BSc student that year. And later I was even awarded the Chemistry Graduate Medal 1983 by the Malaysian Institute of Chemistry IKM. But luck was not always on our side. After I graduated, instead of getting a school near home, I was sent further away.to Johor. This is one of the things you have to bear with as a teacher...they can send you anywhere they like. But it wasn't all that bad. In my next post I will recall the 8 years in Johor where I taught after graduating from USM