As I take a step back in preparation for my first year in University, I’ve come to notice some patterns that I use to approach learning, particularly when it comes to new subjects. In order to develop some context I’d like to give you an example of what my previous approach looked like throughout grade school and high school until grade 12:
- Go to school
- Get told information by teacher
- Memorize information
- Write test about memorized information
- Forget information
Though this learning practice may seem incredibly efficient and useful, it has many faults. Here is more or less how I approach learning something new now:
- Talk with friends, family, strangers.
- Hear something interesting
- Take a note in my phone or notebook about interesting thing
- Search up interesting thing on the Internet (if I remember)*
- Find as many ways to learn about said thing as possible
- Watch YouTube, read blogs and read books about said thing
- Write down my thoughts on said thing
- (Optional) Write blog post about said thing
- Tell others about newly acquired information
- Get Feedback
- Repeat ad infinitum
*If you don’t remember the interesting thing, it most likely wasn’t worth remembering.
The differences between each approach are easily distinguishable. No one is telling me what I can or cannot learn. I can learn anywhere and everywhere without relying on a school. Feedback from others will assess how well I’ve learnt the newly acquired information, not tests. It is a completely independent process besides the communication with others. I am well aware of how independent my learning approach is. However, not everyone is best suited for this type of approach. After all, discussing ideas and hypotheticals about the subject you’re in the middle of learning with others also learning that subject is incredibly helpful. I’ve simply noticed not many people take interest in the same things I’m learning. My discussions arise with books, blogs or twitter feeds. Communicate as often as possible with as many people as possible. Once again, communicate. Create a discussion. You are not looking for the opinions of others on your learning the subject you are learning. Feedback and opinions vary immensely. No one else should influence your learning.
This isn’t to say that I don’t go to school anymore. However, I believe that should the day come when I am no longer part of a scholarly institution, I might just be okay learning a completely new subject on my own. I am not left helpless in the face of nothingness.
If you completely disregard my approach and continue to follow your own, congratulations. I truly wish more people took their learning into their own hands. You realize much more than you could previously fathom. My approach is somewhat childish, I think that’s a wonderful thing. Children are the most easily taught people on this planet.
How I learn is something only I am capable of teaching myself. How do you learn? Taking the proper time to address and answer this question will pay dividends for the rest of your life.
After all: “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” -Albert Einstein