Is learning easy?
We all know that the best way to keep on growing and developing is to learn. But most of us, having graduated from schools and universities have such bad memories with the learning process that we avoid it all together. Today, let’s talk a little about best learning tactics that can help you prepare for that test, learn that new language or just develop deeper understanding for your job.
Have you ever just memorised steps of solving a problem but had no idea why you even needed these steps? It is quite common for people who starting off learning something to miss the connections between concepts. You can practice elaborate rehearsal, which deals with applying concepts on real life situations to create connections and deeper understanding. Even better, try to apply the material on your own life to memorise better. Lastly, when learning something try to connect different parts of the material with each other. Most concepts in one field are not random concepts that have no connection to each other.
Storage strength over retrieval strength
Storage strength means that something is in your memory and is not going anywhere, while retrieval strength is about how fast you can remember something. Think of your childhood pet’s name – this is an example of a strong storage. Now think of what you ate for breakfast today – this is strong retrieval (which, let’s be real, will be forgotten within the next week). When learning you want to remember concepts long-term to actually take advantage of the learning and also to not relearn something over and over again (a.k.a. waste your precious time). Try spaced repetition, which means coming back to the same bits of the material gradually increase the time between repetitions. You can also try interleaving, which basically means studying multiple related concepts for deeper understanding. For example, if you need to learn about one battle, look at others too and contrast them to understand better and create those relations we talked about before.
As frustrating as it sounds, self-testing is one of the best methods to get the information into your long-term memory. They require effort from your side to retrieve information, which allows you to actually remember it properly and not just re-read. Even better if you create the test yourself. The process of generating questions and correct answers is also a way to promote learning. Bonus point: if you create comparison questions and questions about real life, you are not only testing yourself, but also creating relations and insuring better storage strength. Flashcards could be a great easy way to practice self-testing. You can also do it with a friend or a study group to also avoid self-cheating.
Regardless of which strategy you chose (or a combination of which), it is vital to make learning a habit. Try and do a little bit of it every day rather than loads every month. And most importantly, make it fun for yourself. You can turn it into a game, do it with others or use an app. As long as it brings you joy, you will be able to progress with it.
Meanwhile, keep on learning and stay safe!