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Efficient Learning, Less Memorizing
Regardless of whether you're in school or a self-taught student, memorizing what you need to know is the default learning approach for the majority of individuals. For this reason, the definition of "studying" has often become associated with "memorizing."
The pros and cons of memorization as opposed to understanding is a topic that I debate about all too often with my friends, most of whom are university students themselves. And all too often, I'm reminded of the days when I would stay awake late at night to cram for finals, working to absorb as much textbook material in my head as I possibly could. Despite the fact that I was the straight-A student, it was HARD WORK and inefficient. Not surprisingly, I was jealous of people who rarely "studied" and scarcely logged a third of the time that I spent to prepare for tests. In spite of that, they got the exact score as I did. Oftentimes higher!
I realized that the efficient learners didn't work all-too hard as much as they simply studied intelligently. What exactly was their "intelligent" approach to getting As without the unnecessary extra work? They utilized their long-term memory by understanding ideas.
So what's the secret?
By understanding what you learn, it becomes possible for you to break ideas down to their simplest forms and connect them to other similar ideas. As a result, you merge what you have learned into your web of knowledge. With memorization, however, you're jamming your mind with free-floating data that has almost no relevance to anything that you know in your knowledge bank. For that reason, you rapidly lose memorized information. Because they don't fit into your linked web of knowledge, they remain in your short-term memory.
And then you forget what you've recently studied, regardless of the time you spent getting it into your head.
If you're a chronic memorizer the way I was in the past, time is needed to develop the habit of "understanding" the things you learn. The upside is that it's easier than you think to learn any craft and subject by understanding. Memorization has its use, but it shouldn't be the standard method of learning. It's clearly not a sustainable solution.
A powerful way to truly understand nearly anything you learn is by asking, "How is this concept or idea similar to something that I already know?" or "Does this information remind me of anything?"
Of course, getting yourself into the strategies to understand won't happen overnight by consistently asking yourself these questions. Learning any skill takes time and practice. One of the best experts behind the principle of understanding what you learn, who has also transformed the way and rate at which I efficiently pick up new concepts, is Scott Young. I've developed into one of those people who doesn't have to memorize or "study" to see results due to the concepts that Scott demonstrates. After all, he finished a 4-year computer science curriculum from MIT in only 12 months. Enough said.
So if you're ready to start learning smarter, not harder, to improve the way you learn anything whatsoever, I truly can't recommend a learning guru better than Scott Young.
thanks for your reading
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