April 3rd, 2006 03:28 EST
Born to Learn
Birds fly, fish swim; staff thinks and learns’, so stated John Holt, an author and educator. From the time we are born, we have an innate desire to learn. As soon as we can talk, we embark on an endless quest for knowledge. To everything we see, hear, or touch, we look to our parents or caregivers with the question, ‘Why?’
Then we step into school. For some, it is a wonderful world of discovery and adventure. For a lot others, it turns into a stressful journey glutted with the anxiety of tests and exams. It is no wonder that many acquire negative attitudes toward learning that persist into adulthood, even old age. However, are some humans limited in learning?
True, some individuals, because of genetic or physiological reasons, have to face challenges on the learning front. However, the book Inside the Brain states, “What the brain can do, depends on whether or not it is used. It is the ultimate use-it-or-lose-it machine, and it is eager to learn new skills.” Peter Russell in The Brain Book writes, “The more that is learned about the human brain, the more its capacities and potentials are found to go far beyond earlier speculations.”
So then, with the assurance that our brains do have immense capabilities and potentials, what can we do to get the best out of learning and enjoy the learning process at the same time? Here are just a few things you can do:
* Be interested. When you are absorbed in something, you will more readily learn it.
* Relate learning to life. Richard L. Weaver ΙΙ stated, ‘When there is a direct connection between classroom learning and your practical experience, there is an electrical spark that turns on the light bulb of understanding.”
* Try to comprehend. When you make an effort to understand what you are learning, you stimulate both your thinking and memory.
* Concentrate. Concentration is so important that it has been identified as a fundamental prerequisite for intelligence. You can train yourself to concentrate, by starting with brief sessions of study and lengthening the time incrementally.
* Paraphrase. Dr. Mel Levine, in his book A Mind At a Time, states, ‘The most competent students are the ones who are the most proficient paraphrases.’
* Associate. Your recall ability is enhanced when you clearly associate new things you learn with those you already know.
* Visualize. Vivid images last in your mind longer.
* Review. We lose up to 80% of what we learn within 24 hours. A brief review after a study session, then again a day, week, month, even six months later will vastly improve your recall ability.
We all have immense abilities to learn, we just need to learn how to tap into the amazing resources of the brain. Try the above suggestions and see how much you learn and how much fun you can have on the way!