Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when individuals understand the importance of studying in their lives. As I discussed last week learning can take place without the effort of studying, such as infants who learn to crawl, walk, talk, and feed themselves. They do no studying, yet they learn a great deal. However, in order to understand information, one must study.
A book titled The World Book of Study Power, book one of a set of two, has a section about the reasons studying is important to succeed in school, at work, and in life itself. Since I am now a student, I want to learn good study skills and am sharing what I learning with you. The following is what I learned from reading the above referenced book today.
When you study, you search for understanding. You read, take notes, listen, and try to remember because you know that you can learn and understand complex ideas, concepts, and subjects. Studying is a means to understanding….
Every time you learn something, you prepare yourself to learn more. For example, you must learn to count before you can learn to add or subtract. And you must learn to add and subtract before you can hope to master more complex mathematical principles. The more you learn, the more you are able to learn. That’s because by learning something, you expand not only your knowledge but your self-confidence. Every time you complete that circuit, you deepen your understanding of the world (pages 20-21).
The book states that there is a wide variety of “steps to learning” that we must climb in order to study effectively. These steps are called “strategies,” and the learner must “know what strategies you have to choose from, how to use those strategies, and when to use a particular strategy” (page 21).
When one learns something new, their mind changes “to new ways of thinking or acting” causing one to change their approach to learning. A suggested example of this change is looking for a library book. One can search for a book by walking up and down each aisle looking at the books, or one can use the data in the library’s computer. Learning to use the information in the computer changes the procedure to find books in the library (page 22).
Since studying is supposed to help learning to take place, it stands to reason that one must study effectively, and to study effectively means that one must understand how they learn. The book uses Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison as examples. Einstein was a “pioneer in physics,” yet he failed math. Edison was a “great inventor,” yet he was labeled “addled” by his teacher. Both men were highly intelligent, but they performed badly in school because they learned in ways different than the normal student. Students do their best when they understand “how to learn.”
What Einstein and Edison did know about themselves – and what you can find out – was how they learned best, what they had to do to reach their goals, what resources they had, and how to get the job done. You can learn to direct your studying so that it pays off. To do so, you must organize your thoughts and time, channel your energy, and connect whatever you’re learning to what you already know (page 23).
Because learning does not just happen even though one has the desire to learn, one must prepare to learn, such as warming up before exercising. This warm up includes the following (sometimes summarized) elements:
. Yourself: What do you already know? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
. Criteria: What are you expected to achieve? How much time do you have? How will you be evaluated? How will this project help in the future?
. Resources: What do you need to complete the task? Where can you go for help? What materials should you use? Where can you get the books or equipment needed?
Task to be performed: Do you have to prepare a report, take a test, master a new computer program, or give a demonstration?
Strategies: What must you do to successfully complete each task? Can you break down your task into smaller steps? How and when can you take those steps?
Preparing oneself to learn gives one a structure or outline to check progress as well as a timetable to complete the task. The above checklist also helps one to know how one learns the best, the most important preparation for learning.
“Everybody learns different things in different ways. How you learn depends on what you learn.” Some of the different types of learning are: (1) kinesthetic learning or doing (riding a bicycle); (2) tactile or feeling (kneading bread); (3) auditory learning or listening (singing, playing a musical instrument, or learning to appreciate music; (4) visual learning (learning about the stars and planets). You should note that these types of learning come from our senses.
Your senses bring all kinds of information to you. Without realizing it, you are learning all kinds of things in all kinds of ways. Usually, if you’re learning for your own satisfaction, you instinctively let the task guide you. Without thinking about it, you choose the best way to learn…. Break down any task into smaller parts. If you take one bite at a time, you’ll be able to enjoy each one (page 25).
As parents, grandparents, and teachers our task is to help children and youth to understand how they learn best. This knowledge will come in both formal and informal teaching situations. By helping the rising generation to learn how they learn best, we can strengthen individuals, families, communities, and nations.