An article in the New York Times today caught my attention: Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits. Being a natural anarchist, I’m always happy to learn about times when traditional methods / the way we’ve always done it has been proven not to work.
A number of journals and scientists were quoted. Special study areas, focusing intently all evening long on one subject, and on only one part or problem of that subject aren’t effective. You might cram all night and pass the test – but you won’t know much about any of it at the end of the week. Better to move around a bit, from one room or area to another, during a study session. Better to look at several parts of perhaps several topics, and let your brain make various connections between them. Better to study hard an hour a night than do all the studying at one time. And take a test before the test if you can.
All of these worked way better than our traditional picture of students sitting there for hours going over and over the same material. ?The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,? the researchers concluded.”
The article drew this awkwardly phrased conclusion: “None of which is to suggest that these techniques ? alternating study environments, mixing content, spacing study sessions, self-testing or all the above ? will turn a grade-A slacker into a grade-A student.” Since we weren’t talking about motivation, we could have just skipped this part.
But I liked the article, because it suits the way I have always learned. Popping into the subject and then out, reading 3 or more books at once, looking at all aspects of questions, and finding ways to take it all apart and put it back again. All done at my own pace and timing.
So all those kids and parents making themselves crazy trying to learn by the rules – which are also really disruptive of family life – need to start paying attention to what feels right to them, and allow learning to happen in a more natural way.
Another reason why we need the paradigm shift – so we can quit living by other folks’ rules. And pay attention to our own inner wisdom.