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HOW WE LEARN

Benedict Carey

Published : Saturday, 18 June, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 637
Reviwed by Shovon Al-amin

HOW WE LEARN

HOW WE LEARN

Why does it happen that we typically put so much effort into learning something new but rarely make a good progress? One important reason for this is that our learning method is not the best. In fact, learning a new thing is just another skill like swimming in a river. So, let's learn how to learn effectively.
The book "How We Learn" by Benedict Carey was published in 2015 explains how our brain produces and retrieves memories and how we can extend our creative abilities. According to neuroscience, our brain makes new connections between neurons that send each other information signals when we try to form a new memory. Consequently, a new synapse, the bridge between two neurons, is created when these are newly formed. When we recall that memory later, the synapse that belongs to it grows thicker, making it easier to recall. As a result, having bigger synapses improves our ability to recall memories more quickly and clearly.
However, there are lots of tricks in the book which can boost our memory capacity.
Let's get straight to some of my learnings from this magnificent book: Avoid untested fluency illusion: According to Carey's research, the key tool for overcoming the fluency illusion is "retrieval practice." This is nothing but evaluating self-understanding as a study strategy. You just need to act as an expert by giving a short summary or commentary after reading a topic.
Use perceptual intuition to filter out relevant information: When we learn something new, we often feel overwhelmed by the information. The more details you learn, the more smother it will be for you to recall that memory. Because memories are associated with different types of stimuli like sight, smells, and sounds located in different parts of our brain. For example, if you have a smell-memory, the fragrance of the pickle you ate last time would be stored in the scent processing section of your neocortex.
Use Spacing Effect to overcome boredom: You may try your best to cover the entire syllabus the day before your exam. Does this bring you good results? The most possible answer is "No". Because you are likely to forget everything in the exam hall. Why does this happen? Because our brain is incapable of storing long-term memory from a single study session. This is why, you need the spacing effect which produces effective memorization. Restudying or revising the same topic days later will gradually strengthen your synapses. For example, you should study 1 hour for 10 days instead of 10 hours the night before your exam.
Use temporary interruption: It is a universal truth that unfinished tasks are hard to forget. They stick in mind more than completed ones. However, quick breaks can lead us to face challenges from a different perspective. For example, you may have been in a situation when you couldn't figure out how to solve a serious problem. Afterward, you went out to do something completely different, and the solution to the problem unexpectedly came to your mind. Thus, it can help overcome procrastination, improve study habits, and promote mental health.
Explain to someone what you've learned: You probably know that teaching or explaining a topic to someone purifies your exact understanding. This is because the synapse that belongs to the content grows thicker making it easier to recall when you explain something.
Sleeping is essential for memorization: It is important to consider that sleep is primarily necessary for our mental, emotional and physical well-being. Plus, It aids in knowledge comprehension and memorization. According to a recent study, learners who slept before attempting a memory exercise scored higher than those who did not. However, the first hours of sleeping state are essential for retaining facts, but creative thinking requires more.
Finally, the book "How We Learn" is beautifully packed with many tricks which will help you become a better learner. It totally makes sense to first master the art of learning to reap the outstanding outcome later.
The reviewer is a graduated from National University and the founder of English Learners' Club











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