Learning – another approach.

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    When at school, I discovered an interesting way to learn about a subject.
    Take ONE curious related ‘fact’ or ‘incident’, and find out all you can about it.
    Concentrate on that one thing. Read extensively. Write notes. Draw diagrams.
    Amazingly, although your avid search is about one thing only, you will find that the research gives you a wealth of background.
    Suddenly a great deal of the subject is both understood and, more importantly, easy to remember.
    You ‘know’ it. It is there in your mind.
    I applied this to all my study at school. It worked well. This was a surprise to me!
    I think it works because we are naturally curious, and channelling that curiosity in to just one small area gets rid of any distraction.
    You are focussed, and that makes it easier to absorb information.
    Your curiosity is not being ‘watered down’ by being spread out across a big area.
    Maybe a tiny bit like: a long journey starts with one step. Don’t think of the others at the start.
    You could apply this to your life today.
    For example: look at a building, any building. Maybe an older public building might best suit?
    Ask yourself: where did it come from, and why is it there.
    When you can write five pages of careful text about this, you will have learned so much in your research that you will have a greater understanding of the world around you.
    This is an example only. Don’t get stuck on buildings.
    Think about gardening instead? When did it start? Why do we do it?
    You can venture to imagine how it might affect the future too.
    Anyway, that is how I approached my learning.
    Maybe I was wrong?
    How did you learn at school?
    Just by rote?

    bettyh Vic
    bettyh Vic

    School in my days Mmmm  far as I can remember we just sat still, hands on desk, fingers interlocked and listened and listened, sometimes answered questions, or just repeated what the teacher had said in a sing song fashion. One did not dare speak out of turn, if anyone played up, it was out  the front of class for a quick wack across the hand via the  leather strap. I don’t recall being inspired for anything exciting to do with my future, any way as this was back in the 40’s and 50’s jobs for females were very limited, I remember  one job females were not allowed to do was being a bank teller,.



    Bettyh, thank you for sharing those memories. It is good to see it through another’s eyes.
    At my primary school it was a bit like that. Sitting ‘primly’ at desks.
    I must acknowledge though that some things are best learned by rote. The ‘times tables’ for instance.
    Do they still learn them these days I wonder?
    There were some amazing teachers too. They made it a pleasure to be in class. They encouraged us to learn.
    I am sure we all devised ways of learning that suited our own way of thinking.
    I remember in high school a boy who wrote things down. Lots of them.
    He showed me a big book one day that had pages and pages of writing about things we were learning.
    A bit like a diary of all we did in class.
    He wrote in detail, adding in his own copius explanations and comments. He did this in his own time of course.
    It was an approach similar to my own, but I think he did more writing.
    This would have exercised his mind and brought all those things in to closer focus for him. A framework for learning.
    I am not sure how all the others did things. I don’t think we discussed that. We just got on with it.
    Looking back, I am curious to know what they were doing.
    And however bad some aspects of schooling were, I cannot help but remember those (few) wonderful teachers.
    I hope others have similar memories of teachers who made a difference.


    I agree that rote learning has a place. Or perhaps I should say it worked for me!

    One thing I remember from when my own children were at school was their complaint that some teachers (usually in maths) did not “teach” but guided the class in exploring a subject – as a result some pupils were frustrated that at the end of a class they couldn’t respond adequately to tests – why didn’t the teacher demonstrate a method for solving a particular problem? This seemed to be meta-learning or “learning about learning. All that the kids wanted to do was to learn a method that worked – first principles stuff could wait a bit.


    I wondered if Jack Sprat really existed until now!
    Like Betty my schooling was very strict and many aspects could have been improved. However those things I learnt by rote stayed with me forever. I still prefer to add a column of figures in my head rather than use a calculator and risk pressing the wrong key. Some things like conjugating Latin verbs I could happily forget………


    I agree with the worthwhile practice of using the calculator between our ears. And the automatic “carry the one” and other processes derived from repetition and practice that I use to this day.

    As for Latin… At one time there was talk that perhaps little Jack Sprat, a shy, introspective kind of fellow, might discover a vocation for the priesthood later in life and thus would benefit from some Latin tutoring. A few lessons ensued but the project failed to stick. I remember conjugating “mensa” (table) and that’s about it, apart from a recollection of my tutor, a tall black-garbed nun and a remembered sense of her frustration at being saddled with a not too bright pupil.

    Certainly the vocation never materialised, despite occasional promptings through school years; though an interest in the use of Latin terms persisted.

    On the whole, the “old” style of schooling seemed good enough. Apart from the strap and stick that were used far too often and probably stunted the intellectual and social growth of many of us.


    This was my calculator when I was in High school 65 years ago.




    I never ever learnt how to use one of those JJS though they existed at home not school. I used to love geometry even theorems and never forgot good old Pythagoras!
    I also have an abacus bought in Hong Kong when they were still in constant use there. One of my projects this year is to re-learn how to use that which is quite fascinating.


    ABIRDO: Here is something to help you along with your abacus!


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