How to Truly Learn

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Added on January 22, 2015 by Valentina.G

How to Truly Learn | Learn_Button

In my IB HL Biology class, we recently began an extremely interesting section on Neurobiology and Behavior. This Option (an additional lesson elected by the teacher as part of the IB course) forces us to question whyand how we learn. Between class discussions on the ethics of Skinner's pigeon experiments and the biological genius that is the withdrawal reflex, we were asked to define "learning". According to the IBO, learned behavior is characterized by experience.  This clicked. The way we truly learn is not by meaningless rote memorization. Rather, we learn by immersing ourselves completely in what we do and by making an experience out of it.

In my earlier blog post ("IB, Honors, or AP – Oh My!"), I briefly mentioned the importance of selecting classes that you are interested in. Although this may seem obvious, I think it is a fact that some people overlook. Rather than enroll in a class they are passionate about, too many students opt for the more challenging (and less interesting) class because they feel the need to prove themselves. By doing so, students forget the true purpose of school: to grow toward your future with purpose. Although you may not know what purpose that is, taking classes that do not resonate well with what you enjoy will only serve to alienate you further from your future.

When I study I enjoy making an experience out of what I am learning. Sometimes that means I get to spend time on YouTube researching the material or watching videos from other IB or AP teachers. I highly recommend watching Crash Course videos for your Science and History classes. Other times I prepare a bowl of grapes for my study session! When I reach a certain page number or outline a certain amount I will eat a grape as a sort of healthy reward. My Neurobiology and Behavior class would classify this under positive reinforcement. I feel good and I am incentivized to keep working. Studying in a different location, reciting what you know to a family member, or even making a catchy jingle to relate to a lesson are all different ways to make an experience out of your studying.

The hardest part of studying or doing schoolwork is getting started. However, I have found that once I start my work it is a lot easier for me to just finish it. An analogy I use is "A Valentina in study mode, stays in study mode until she is stopped by an object of equal or greater force". Minimize the equal or greater forces that can snap you out of "the zone". Turn off/turn down your phone and place it in the opposite corner of your room. Do not have too many webpages open on your laptop. At the same time, remember to take breaks. Do not force yourself to study one subject for an hour straight; you won't remember what you learned. Take a break every 15 minutes by walking around, talking to your family, or grabbing a healthy snack. I have also found that taking a nap after a good study session will help retain the information better.

Imbue yourself with the knowledge your teachers provide in class. Embrace the experience of learning, but at the same time go out and live real experiences. You will become a truly rich Laker, human being, and global citizen.

 

 

 

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