Think of the kind of person you were 10 years ago. 5 years ago. Even a short amount of time like this day last year. Odds are you were a different kind of person in some ways, being involved in different projects.
To take on the challenges we face each day we recreate ourselves through learning. We educate ourselves on what we need to in order to complete our work.
Thing is, as time moves forward, so do the problems we face. We run the risk of forgetting things that were once imperative. Things that may be useful to have knowledge of later.
Learning is a strange thing. So often its main use is to make us useful for our current situation, even if that means learning to forget other things that get in the way.
Here are 6 ways, though, to make the important things last.
1.) Find Out Why It’s Important
The foundation for any motivation is the why. Why do I care about what I’m doing?
When you are learning about something that you are sure is important, take the time to really understand why this is so. It will make the emotional connection to this knowledge deeper, making you more likely to remember.
There is a reason you find yourself remembering things you learn through self discovery better than anything you get taught at school. It’s because it’s important to you, for one reason or another, and learning it gives you great satisfaction.
2.) Compare To Past Framework Or Skill
Learning doesn’t take place in a vacuum. We instinctively compare what we are learning to what we have already learned to some extent.
If we are learning how to cook a new dish, we compare it to something we have made in the past with similar ingredients. If we are learning a new skill, we look to an old skill for initial direction.
Comparing new ideas to old ones forces us to pay attention to the details and ultimately how they differ. When we begin to notice the differences, then we have started on the path of learning.
3.) Discover The Problems
In order to argue against someone, you have to understand what they are talking about. You can’t even see the problems that may exist until you understand the entire framework.
In addition to this, actively looking for problem areas forces you to understand the issue even better.
Take for instance, Immanuel Kant’s position on ethics.
To even begin discovering any criticisms of his views you must first understand them. Once you understand, then you can begin to pick things apart.
Once you have picked things apart, though, scholarly honor dictates you should give him a fair chance; you should come up with a response he may have towards your criticisms which gives him some credit. To do so requires a degree of understanding beyond just what his ideas were, but the principles behind the ideas. You have to apply those principles to the imaginary rebuttal.
This process folds in upon itself and gives you a knowledge of the subject matter beyond most can muster.
4.) Use Distributed Practice
Distributed Practice is a method of studying which ranks highly on the list of “Study methods worth doing.”
Put simply, when you are trying to learn something, first study in short clusters, only taking a small break between sessions. As time progresses, distance those study sessions gradually. Eventually, you will only need a “brush up” session every once in a while to keep the learning fresh.
This method of studying is a great tool for any lifelong learner. It allows us to keep important knowledge without too much strain.
If you put in the work early on, you will only need to polish things up every so often, instead of trying to re-learn everything over and over and over again.
5.) Write, Present, Write Again
Writing about something shows two things:
- Passion. If you write about a certain topic and shed light on it from a different angle, it shows you are devoted to the topic, especially if you do it without outside coercion.
- Knowledge. A good paper takes attention to the details. Without it, the writing will be boring, bland, and just plain tough to read. Your readers will beg for it to be over.
With each paper you write or presentation you put on, you increase your passion and knowledge about the topic.
The more you write and the different topics or angles you use, the more the learning will stick, because you can’t help but think about it often.
6.) Keep Learning
To make learning last, you have to keep it up. Learning new things brings old things up again, turns them over in a new light.
If you were to stop learning or lose interest in it, eventually the ways you thought were the best to solve problems would get outdated. They just wouldn’t work anymore.
The principles behind what you do and why you do it matter, and those things are determined through constant learning.
Sure, some things are lost, but through moving forward each day, the things the really matter begin to shine, and we strip away the useless while keeping the important.
To make the things that we have learned stick, we have to see if they are worth being stuck to us, or if it will just bog us down and make our journey harder.
Lovers of learning, of wisdom, love to learn and be wise, but also like for that learning to stick around. We don’t want to forget what we struggled so hard to remember in the first place.
Taking steps to avoid this involve looking into the study, really getting deep into the topic, finding its problems, writing about it, giving it a fair chance to do its thing, and ultimately determining what should stay and what should go.
Making things learned last is done by making learning last. Continually transforming our mind and body to take on interesting problems with either polished old solutions, or novel interesting ones. Each kind require skill and imagination.