Effective Study Methods
© 2013 EEASI Corporation

 
     

The Source of much of the wrong learning theory:

Traditional methods of study date back to the dark ages. In fact, the concept of religious indoctrination had a powerful influence on study methods that are still in practice today. The worst of these methods is the rote repetition approach. This is the method in which one memorizes information by going over it until it "sticks". This approach is essential for religious indoctrination in which one is not allowed to question the material, thoughts, origins or ideas. It is also essential for political indoctrination for the same reason. It is in use throughout the world in many schools, and has become so widely accepted that students even continue this method in college, thinking that this is the best that one can do.

The Modern Approach to Learning:

I never begin the study of a new subject by starting at the front of the book. I thumb through the book and look for some idea or thought or topic that is of interest. I call this topic "The Hook" since it gets me hooked on the subject. Once hooked, or interested in some topic related to the subject, I ask myself "What is the point of this subject?" And then, if I can guess this, I ask: what are the important questions one must answer to make this subject something that will contribute to the betterment of the human race.

A subject that has no value, or contribution to human existence, is hard to study. There is no motive or purpose that can pull you along. There must be a reason to study a subject in my view before I undertake to study it. Luckily, High School and College subjects do have a purpose.

Having a purpose to study is very powerful. It will greatly aid in remembering large amounts of information. Just yesterday someone told me that the study of the Goths was BOORRRRRRIIIINNNNG! I agree, and so the only way to remember this material is to find something about the Goth's that altered history (the point of the study). The main point is that the Goths were a significant roadblock to the recovery of civilization from the chaos caused by the fall of Rome as a military power. Now comes a series of answers to relevant questions that make this study interesting] And the Goths were the last nail in the coffin of the Roman Empire. That is interesting because of why Rome fell: greed, envy, hubris, lust for power, and that is interesting because it shows that such personality characteristics in our leaders, or world leaders can destroy the best work humans have done to date. And that is interesting because it shows that centuries of hard work to cure disease, master science, .express our deepest thoughts through literature, and develop an understanding of ourselves so that we can improve our lives is lost simply because of the deeds of a few power hungry men.

What the above paragraph shows is that even very boring topics are connected to important thoughts, and by following this path, you will find that you will always remember the boring Goths and their impact on European life and civilization.

Now this leads us to wonder, when did all of this happen. It started around 410 AD. So now I have a date that means something to me. .

If I had just been required to memorize the date 410AD as when the Goths sacked Rome to pass a test, I would have forgotten this date as meaningless right after I had finished the test. So relevance and meaning lead to understanding, and the ability to remember.

I used the Goths in this illustration because they seem boring to many. Any other subject would have done just as well.

As we stumble along this line of thinking, one might ask, "Why did the Goths sack Rome?". In a single phrase, it was the arrogance of the Romans. And why were the Romans (with their superior technology, skill and training) unable to defend themselves at this point in history, after all, they had been doing fairly good so far. A very big mistake that was made hundreds of years earlier. The Romans decided one day to have a professional army instead of a citizen army which they had always had before this decision was made. So why was that a bad decision? The professional armies of Rome were beholden to their generals, and not to the government of Rome. Through this simple decision, the government of Rome sealed its fate and doomed itself to destruction. The America founders, and authors of our constitution, made good note of this and made our army subordinate to the civilian government who paid for everything the army needs.

Note how many interesting questions are left unanswered by this particular thread. Filling in these answers will fill out an enormous block of western history.

The point of the above paragraphs is that memory is associative: One idea leads to another until you have a long chain of ideas that are connected and relevant to our world today. Making good use of the associative feature of human memory is a great way to remember large chains of information.

Now in a few short paragraphs we have gone from the boring topic of the Goths to having some insight into the constitution of the united states. Quite a journey in so short a time.

To summarize: In order to learn and remember vast amounts of information that can be used requires finding relevance in the material and the freedom to think and explore one's own ideas independently of the author, and to link together many ideas using the natural associative feature of the human brain.