How Do You Learn?

Learning is something we do throughout our lives. We learn to walk, to talk, to play, to interact with others. Sometimes we have formal education, from elementary school to high school, to college, graduate school, perhaps even adult education. We learn on the job, how to be a good spouse and then a parent.

With all this learning happening, knowing how you learn can have a big impact on your life. Understanding what works for you to remember, recall, and utilize information is paramount.

Some people get the most out of education by seeing. Others might internalize best through hearing. Perhaps you learn best by writing. Or doing.

With the important role learning plays in our lives, it is a little surprising schools don’t offer formal education in how to study. Students are usually expected to just figure out what works best for themselves.

If you were to take such a class, or perhaps even to teach it, what would it show? How do you learn?

Related questions: How does your vocabulary influence how you think? What are the benefits of fiction? How do you define success? How do we know what we don’t know? What makes something memorable? How important is the repetition in our lives?

7 thoughts on “How Do You Learn?”

  1. Optimally, I have a learning process.

    I begin most learning by reading and physically highlighting the important points of the material. (Sorry libraries. I must buy most of the books I read.) Then, if I want to retain the material (as opposed to simply knowing where to access it), I review the highlighted content several times — first reading completely through the highlights slowly, and then repeating several times while building up to almost a speed-reading pace. This is often as far as the learning process goes. It suffices, but I yearn for more.

    Ideally, if I have time and interested participants, I like to talk to others about what I’ve read. Hopefully, the conversation(s) is/are not solely about the actual content (i.e. facts and figures), but also the implications. I try to take good notes on the conversation(s) and questions asked.

    Next, I like to pretend and/or prepare the material as if I was responsible for teaching it to others. So lastly — but rarely — I teach/share, which is really a more perfected version of the paragraph above.

    Thankfully, I love learning and teaching. So if given the opportunity, I will take the content as far as I can and/or and active audience will allow.

    1. Wow, this is impressive! Thanks, Michael for sharing. I’m reminded that I’m not done learning at my age – I don’t ever want to stop learning.

      I especially like the part where you try to know the subject matter well enough to teach it. That’s a terrific way to learn – teach it!

      One of my current goals is to learn more about your work with the Minnesota Food Charter Network, so I can see if it is something we can use in my faith community. When I approached our Justice Council last Spring, they let me know they were interested in learning more.

  2. I learn my massive exposure to a subject. I may visit dozens, if not hundreds of web sites, and read many books on the subject. I learn best my reading and doing, not by hearing or formal lectures. In other words, I learn best by teaching myself. That way I learn just what I need/want to know, not a lot of superfluous things. This process can take a long time, but in the end if I keep at, I am well versed on the subject. But sometimes I find I am not all that interested in the subject and give up on it. That’s fine too! My wife and other family members often think that I have become an expert on something by osmosis. Trust me that does not happen, and it has taken me years sometimes to know a lot about something. Learning is a lifelong process.

  3. I have trouble retaining information when I am told things so I usually take notes and do research on my own to fully understand whatI need to learn. I also learn faster with the use of visual aids and understand more by physically doing, rather than just listening

  4. Like Richard and Cecily, I learn best by doing something…if possible with lots of repetition. And now it seems I’m more particular about what I want to spend my precious time learning. There’s so much information out there and so little time to assimilate it.

    I also like Michael’s approach to learn something well enough so that you are able to teach it. I recently taught some young people about golf, and I was amazed at how much I learned.

  5. I love learning new words and finding ways to make things apply to my life.
    Like, once I was told I was resilient. I had no idea what that meant. Once I looked at what it meant I felt empowered!
    To not only see my self as one who snapped back in the face of adversity but to see the resiliency in others and be able to encourage them was amazing.

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