Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Learning How to Learn

There's an oft-repeated proverb that goes, "Give a person a fish and you'll feed them for one day. Teach a person to fish and you'll feed them for a lifetime." This applies very well to education.

I tell my students on the first day of class that they are in college to "learn how to learn." Once they master the skill of learning, they are set for the rest of their lives because they can apply this skill to anything.

The challenge is that there are different ways to learn and we have to discover what works for us. Often, this involves trial and error. But, if you're disciplined, committed and pay attention, you'll master the art of learning.

An article in yesterday's New York Times presented some recent research on learning, test-taking, and knowledge retention. Learning researchers have found that the conventional wisdom about studying is wrong in most cases. This conventional wisdom says that (1) you should always study in one place, usually a place free of any distractions, and (2) you should focus on one subject intensely rather than study multiple subjects at one sitting.

What learning researchers have found is that learning is enhanced when you (1) study in multiple places and (2) study a variety of subjects in one study period. Apparently, variety is the spice of studying!

The point is that each of us needs to find the way(s) that we best learn. This also applies to spirituality. We need to discover what feeds our souls. Once we discover this, we can be fed for a lifetime.

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