10 steps to rapid learning
The educational system today follows the “single chance theory of education”. Either you get it or you don’t. The war is between those knowing more and knowing less. They are three types of learners based on the way they can process and store information. The Physical, Auditory and Visual learners. Although all of them can recollect information the same way, the way they take in the information is apparently different. That’s why the whole educational system in schools and colleges don’t get the minds of the generation going. To make matters worse, some people lose their interests because the way they learn is different from the way they teach. That makes listening to lectures for long hours at a stretch difficult for some while for others it is all in a day’s work. And again there is a difference between the male and female brain. While men have a brain that has an upper hand in processing data, women have one which works faster. The following are some ways to help you in the learning process:
10. Get in the mood
This is actually the most difficult part. We have all been in that time where we have been staring at a piece of material for hours only to realize that we have got nothing inside our heads. That is because we are not in that resourceful state of mind. So now the big question is : How do I get into that state of mind?
Try to visualize previous state of success. Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine that one time you were successful like when you aced a test. Visualize the scene. Look around you. Listen to all the people praising you. Bring back the feeling of satisfaction you felt back then. Realize how good it felt then. Now hold on to that feeling and open your eyes. Get going!
Listening to Baroque music. It’s food for your brain. Have baroque music running in the background for about 30minutes; not too loud, but at a decent volume so that it doesn’t distract you. It helps you to calm down and come into that resourceful state of mind. Studies also suggest that the “Mozart effect” keeps you awake and alert. But the changes are usually temporary.
No, this is not what we were talking about
9.Organize the place you learn
Of course you have to keep your work place neat and tidy. Nobody wants to study sitting in a dumpster. Make posters , maps and lists of things you need to remember and tape it onto wall or your table so that you can see it all the time. Write down your favorite quotation and place it somewhere so that when you feel down and disheartened, it gets you motivated.
8. Set goals
Know what you want to or have to learn so that you can become a conscious incompetent. Now you know what you've got to study. After learning it, you’ll be a conscious competent. Write down your goals. Decide what skills the person you want to be has that you don’t. Now that you have what you need to know listed you can work on it one by one. Assign reasons and outcomes of what you are doing or what it gives you.
This can be difficult or easy for you depending on what kind of learner you are. But the following ways should cover all the types. Chose what works for you and start implementing it.
1. Every time you finish reading put a tick mark at the end of the page to know you’ve grasped it. So that the next time you go through that very page your brain automatically realizes you have gone through this before.
2. Learn one small chunk at a time.
3. Use a highlighter pen. Highlight only the new or noteworthy information rather than the whole paragraph. Usually people find it difficult to decide what’s important and end up highlighting the whole paragraph.
Use different colors of highlighter pens so that by the end of your study session the whole page looks like a splash of color rather than boring text.
4. Try reading it dramatically. We’ve to admit, the things that we remember the most are usually things that made us feel something, like something disgusting or shocking, vulgar or gruesome. The strong emotion we felt at that moment made us remember what we were doing then, even years after it happened.
5. Summarize the material out loud. Auditory learners find this particularly useful.
6. Visualize the material. Make a mental movie of what you are reading.
7. Walk around while you read or listen. All though most people like to sit down, physical learners like to walk around while studying.
8. Take regular breaks. Breaks are extremely helpful. After one hour of serious studying, a 10min break would be ample time for your brain to soak in all the information you were going through.
9. Write down the key ideas on postcards or index cards before going to sleep. Jotting down notes while reading or listening to audio books will also help you to remember.
10. Review your notes before going to sleep. Rely more on note making rather than note taking. This way you’ll remember more.
6. Be an active learner
A passive learner just sits there listening or reading; believing that he will remember what he hears or reads while an active learner sits down with a pen jotting down things. Be an active learner. He gets to remember more things on the long run.
When you are going through something first read all the way through. Then go back to the places you couldn’t understand and read it again. Read it again listening to the sounds. Read it again and visualize it. Now read it again and associate it with some actions. Do all this once again. This is multisensory learning.
5. Make the page memorable
As mentioned before use highlighter pens of different colors to highlight the essential information. Underline important words or sentences. If a paragraph or page is important, mark it with an asterisk. Make stick figures, bubbles, jot down notes along the sides, highlight, doodle all over the page, just make the page something worth memorizing. Once you have understood everything on that page, mark it with a tick or a star at the top of the page so that the next time you go through it your memories will come to you.
4. Chunking it down
Make smaller versions of the large material you are about to study. Write the key points on a separate piece of paper and before you take a break go through the key points. Take the important key points from this piece of paper and write it on another one. Now you have the whole material summarized into a few points. You can go through these points while reviewing instead of going through the whole material. If you find some point difficult to remember go through the material again.
Another way is the use of mnemonics. Take the first letter of all the words or key points you are trying to remember and turn into a word. Like for instance WAX i.e water flows through xylem or ACE where each letter denotes attitude, commitment and excellence.
You can also use words to remember a number. For example, you need to remember the number 32534; but instead you can remember a sentence like “key is under the desk” and you make a mental picture of it so that when you need to remember the number you visualize the key under the desk and decode from it the number. (If you are wondering why the key is under the desk: key=3, is=2, under=5, the=3, desk=4)
Make review maps and title it with a single word, where each letter of the word is assigned for a particular learning map. Now when you think about the word and what each letter stands for the whole subject comes into your mind.
3. Dual learning
Learning and then teaching what you have learnt makes the subject more clear and simple. You don’t always have to teach. Say it out loud as if narrating it to a friend. It helps even more if you can watch the theory in action or apply what you have studied in real life because “an ounce of experience is worth a ton of knowledge”. Therefore, the sooner you use your knowledge the longer it stays.
Review the material you have been studying before you take a break. It’s the beginning and the end that people often remember more. So try to create more beginnings and ends by taking break every time you find yourself losing focus. Make a note that you will revise the materials before going to sleep, and revise it once more before the end of the week. Revise it again weekly or at least on a monthly basis so that recollecting it becomes natural to you.
Affirmations can be used to create self confidence. Every time you learn something new or hear something make a note to yourself that you will remember it easily and well. By saying everyday that you have an excellent memory and you can learn any subject you want easily, you clear your subconscious mind from any doubts that hinders you from remembering things. Believe that you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to and you are a terrific, healthy, happy, genius.
These are just 10 ways. There are several other methods to improve your memory and learning including hypnosis. But still, if you haven’t been using a certain part of your brain, say logical and/or reasoning, that part of your brain is literally off on a vacation. So the more you use your brain, the better it is going to perform.