Learning

11 12 2009

As a part of the course I’m attending these days, I’ve been reading lots of stuff – many of the concepts new to me. Today, while I was filling out the evaluation forms for the course, I was posed the question: How much you’ve learned from this course? This got me to think over all the extensive reading and work I’ve done during the course and a fact really surprised me.

I couldn’t recollect all that I’ve read and understood. For example, I’ve read about Sparklines in Data Visualization a few weeks ago, but I was not able to define it or recollect the exact concept today. All that I remember is the long article I’ve read on it (I even remember getting awed by it and nodding in understanding while going through it), bits and pieces of the graphs drawn by the instructor on the whiteboard. That’s all. While I probed my mind further, a few other such topics surfaced. So, I really couldn’t say that I learned all that stuff. All I know at this point is where to find the information whenever I want to refer to it.

Actually, this is not a new thing. Many times before during graduation or post-graduation, I faced the same problem. I read a lot (most of the times just enough for the exams), write the exams, and pass out. If I try to recollect some stuff or answer some random question by someone thereafter, I usually have a hard time doing it.

Of course, this doesn’t happen for everything. There will always be some stuff you never forget. May be that’s what your interest area is. Also, in almost all the cases, that will be the stuff which you’ve gone through multiple times. So, here repetition is the key. Obviously, you read or work on something more and repetitively only if it’s your special interest/focus area. And of course there is concentration, which again depends on your interest in the subject. Sometimes you know about your affinity, sometimes you don’t. Some topics just appeal to you more.

I used to be frustrated when I fail to reckon something I’ve read (and understood) earlier. I used to wonder what’s the use of reading when I can’t remember and apply it at some point later in time. Also I had serious doubts about my method of study and learning.

But only recently have I realized that something really sinks into one’s mind for later retrieval only by repetition – reading more and more about it and most importantly apply it to some interesting problems or relate it some aspect of life and learn from experience. And it goes without saying that given the limited time/life we have we can only master some of the stuff (the degree and the scope vary with the individual capabilities, of course). So, hoping to remember everything you ever read forever makes a unreasonable expectation from oneself. With this insight, I guess I’ll be able to feel less frustrated and less stress and enjoy my learning more in future.

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4 responses

11 12 2009
vineela

very true Sireesha….Even I used to read a lot but couldnt recollect many things after my exams…I personally feel that, we remember stuff only when we practically apply it….

13 12 2009
usha

Thats absolutely true… the more you practice or read, the more you remember….

13 12 2009
sireeshaavvari

@Vineela & Usha

Yeah, and the repetition has to be lot many times to remember it forever. Not everyone can be Swami Vivekananda!

5 06 2017
My MOOC journey – 3 | Peek Inside My Mind

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