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5 strategies for remembering everything you learn

Connect new things to old things

When you're weaving in new threads into your pre-existing web of knowledge, you're elaborating.

The more you can explain the way your new learning relates to prior knowledge the more connections you create that will help you remember it later.

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Remember anything

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5 strategies for remembering everything you learn

5 strategies for remembering everything you learn

https://www.businessinsider.com/remember-everything-you-learn-2016-10

businessinsider.com

6

Key Ideas

2 kinds of prior knowledge

... you need two kinds of prior knowledge:

  • Knowledge about the subject at hand (math, history, or programming).
  • Knowledge about how learning actually works.

Force yourself to recall

When learning is difficult, you're doing your best learning, in the same way that lifting a weight at the limit of your capacity makes you stronger. 

When you keep trying to remember a piece of information, you interrupt the forgetting process and help cement the memory of that information into your brain. 

Interleaving

It's a strategy of mixing up the type of problems you solve when you're testing yourself.

That way, the testing conditions are more similar to real life, where you first have to figure out what kind of problem you have on your hands and then solve it. 

Don't fall for fluency

You're experiencing fluency when you're reading something and it feels easy.

For example: you're at the airport and you're trying to remember which gate your flight is. You look at the terminal monitors — it's B44. You think to yourself that's easy to remember. Then you walk away, idly check your phone, and instantly forget where you're going.

Connect new things to old things

When you're weaving in new threads into your pre-existing web of knowledge, you're elaborating.

The more you can explain the way your new learning relates to prior knowledge the more connections you create that will help you remember it later.

Reflect

When people have the opportunity to reflect, they experience a boost in self-efficacy and self-confidence.

As a result, they put more effort into what they're doing and what they learn.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

"Learning is deeper and more durable when it's effortful... Learning that's easy is like writing in sand, here today and gone tomorrow."

 -  Make It Stick: The Science Of Suc...

Bring it back from memory

Retrieval is so effective is that it strengthens the neural pathways associated with a given concept.

When you're attempting to recall an idea, method, or technique from memory, you're retrieving. Flash cards are a great example: They force you to recall an idea from memory, unlike a technique like highlighting where you're not burning anything into your brain. 

Connect new ideas

... to what you already know.

When you try to put a new idea into your own words, you're elaborating.

For example, if you're in physics class and trying to understand heat transfer, try to tie the concept into your real-life experiences, say, by imagining how a warm cup of coffee disperses heat into your hands.

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Learning how to learn

Learning how to learn is a meta-skill. It is a critical skill for everyone who needs to pick up and master new concepts frequently.

Understanding what is learning and how our memory works wil...

Learning skills

Learning how to learn is critical for everyone. Most of us have to deal with a changing world and to learn how to manage tons of new information.

However, most of our learning methods are outdated and far from optimal. It may even be giving us an illusion of learning, like re-reading and highlighting that don't provide proper feedback to show what you haven't learned.

Focused and Diffuse Mode

Focused and diffuse modes provide two models for how we develop, elaborate, deepen and broaden connections. Both methods are important.

  • The focused mode of learning is about bringing related concepts together into a unit, called a chunk. 
  • The diffuse mode operates through a wider net of connecting general ideas across different fields. We use this diffuse mode while we sleep, exercise or daydream.

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“Focused” and “Diffused” Modes

When learning, there are times in which you are focused and times in which you allow your mind to wander. Both modes are valuable to allow your brain to learn something.

Take regular break...

Chunking
This is the idea of breaking what you want to learn into concepts. 

The goal is to learn each concept in a way that they each become like a well-known puzzle piece. 

In order to master a concept, you not only need to know it but also to know how it fits into the bigger picture.

Beware of Illusions of Competence
There are many ways in which we can make ourselves feel like we have “learned” a concept.

Instead of highlighting or underlining, rather take brief notes that summarize keys concepts.

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Ditch Your Learning Style

Learning styles (visual, auditory etc.) have actually little impact on our ability to learn.

The best way to learn depends on what you’re trying to learn in the first place. The ...

Find Meaning In Learning

If you try to force yourself to just memorize random facts, you’re likely to forget them. 

We will most likely remember only the information that was meaningful to us, that we’ve been able to connect to our lives and our experiences.

Learn by Doing

We learn best when we perform the tasks we’re trying to learn. 

No matter how good your grades were at college, most of your learning takes place once you enter the workplace and start applying what you've learned.

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Learn A New Skill
Learn A New Skill

Learning a new skill can be tough. Those of us trying to master a new language, learn a musical instrument, or take an online course, will find that when the initial enthusiasm dries up, things mov...

Make It A Challenge

Most learning techniques with lots of theory and colorful infographics do not assist in making the information stick in our minds.

There is a need for ‘desirable difficulties’ which exercise our minds and translate into long-term retention of knowledge.

A Pre-Test Quiz

.. or a Q&A session primes the brain to absorb the information afterward, and failing to answer it initially is part of the game.

The brain needs to know that it doesn’t know.

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Learning Slows Down with Age
Learning Slows Down with Age

Most aspects of mental processing slow down as we age. While we continue to accumulate knowledge of the world at a slower rate, we gain more experience that increases our wisdom.

Our minds tend to grow worse

Researchers disagree in their hypotheses about how our minds tend to get worse with age. What can be observed is the following:

  • Older individuals do struggle more with Stroop tasks, where an automatic habit needs to be overridden by instructions.
  • Older individuals have a harder time with multitasking.
  • Older people find it difficult to bind information that occurs in a combined context. It impacts their ability to remember life events.

However, older people seem to be better at emotional regulation.

Cognitive Reserve

Some people seem to age mostly with minds intact and others notice dramatic slowdowns. The brain appears to have a lot of redundancy built-in - known as cognitive reserve.

Education seems to have a protective effect on aging, possibly because education contributes to cognitive reserve.

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Learning

Traditionally, we’re taught to learn using the “blocking” strategy. This instructs us to go over a single idea again and again (and again) until we’ve mastered it, before proceeding to the next con...

Interleaving

... space out learning over a longer period of time, and it randomizes the information we encounter when learning a new skill. 

Interleaving causes your brain to intensely focus and solve problems every step of the way, resulting in information getting stored in your long-term memory instead.

For example, instead of learning one banjo chord at a time until you perfect it, you train in several at once and in shorter bursts.

Using interleaving to pick up a new skill
  • Practice multiple parallel skills at once
  • Try planning when and what you want to cover in a lesson in advance.

  • Go back over the basics to practice older material.

  • Keep track of your progress to stay motivated.

  • Trying skills from new angles and failing a lot helps you break out of your comfort zone.

The Feynman Technique

... is the perfect strategy for learning something new, deepening your understanding of a concept, enhancing your recall of certain ideas, or reviewing for tests.

The process t...

Richard Feynman

... the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, was recognized as someone who could clearly explain complex topics in a way that everybody—even those without degrees in the sciences—could understand

While studying at Princeton, Feynman began recording and connecting the information he knew with the things that he either didn't know or didn't understand.
This resulted in a complete notebook of topics and subjects that he had disassembled, translated, reassembled, and written down in simple terms.

The Benefits of the Feynman Technique
  • It helps you gain a complete understanding of what you're learning.
  • Use the Feynman Technique if you are struggling with tough subject matter.
  • It helps to improve your teaching skills.
  • It increases your capacity to use critical thinking skills.

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Everyone is Skilled

The natural talents and skills of youngsters are quickly dashed at school, where they are told by parents and teachers that they aren't that smart, based on the prevailing metrics of measuremen...

The Brain is Always Changing

Schools that are practicing 'tracking' where they group students based on their test scores and abilities are hampering their development. They mistakenly think that the brain is fixed and these students are 'learning disabled' for life.

Every time we learn something, the brain is forming, strengthening and connecting neural pathways, at any age. We never stop learning, but stigmas and wrong beliefs at an early age impact the learning process.

Embracing Mistakes

Just giving the right answer in a test isn't enough. The brain works and learns better when solving difficult problems, absorbing it for a lifetime. If teachers make it all right to fail and provide students with the space to make mistakes, it can be incredibly freeing.

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