7 Steps of How to Learn
The scientific studies are all completed, categorized and published so that we now know how human beings learn. This blog has reviewed several books recently about how we are motivated to learn and how we are distracted from learning, but we each have to go through the same steps with our own personal style and creativity in order to learn.
The studies show how by being able to learn, and integrate ideas into our living we differ from other forms of life on this planet and are able to be more responsible and creative with our learning. The studies also show how environments make a difference in what we want to learn and know and use in our lives. Yet still, we all have to go through the same 7 steps in order to learn, integrate and use that learning.
Step #1: The IDEA. As individuals we must know that we need or want to learn something. Some children just know they want to learn control and not need diapers any more. Some just learn this idea by observing and others need coaching to get to the point. We all sometimes need some coaching to know what we want to learn at some time or other in our lives. Whether the idea arrives by observation or shoving, it usually involves another person – in person- in our lives to succeed.
Step #2: RESEARCH. We need to explore the idea and in several different modalities. This step might involve the individual reading, talking, journaling, and making a field trip. Let’s say the person wants to know about airplanes; they begin by Googling the word, then reading various websites and articles, taking notes about ideas that are coming alive within them and the emotions provoked, talking to a neighbor who knows a commercial pilot; interviewing the pilot and finding some interesting resources. One dimensional research keeps the idea alive but does not promote learning.
Step #3: REVIEW. This is the step most often ignored, avoided, or overlooked. You go over your research again – even read your sources again, organize your journal notes and add new emotions. One talks with more people and learns to ask new questions and clarify. The old material will look boring sometimes and sharing the same “stuff” with the neighbor is not so interesting. This is where having a good mentor, teacher, or coach is essential, because they will offer guidance, support and questions that will push one in new directions of thinking. If you are in a position of isolation, then one can play the game of 5 different ways of looking at the information and finding metaphors and similarities between the different approaches. Always superior to get some encouragement at this stage and thus one on one is often vital.
Step #4: WRESTLING. At this moment in time one is searching for the theme or concept of the learning. One is reviewing notes, interviews and resources but with a sharpening focus. One must concentrate for awhile and put distractions away until one reaches a point of discernment, sometimes in the form of frustration or confusion of ideas. For me, I will sometimes get the urge to make cookies, and then eat them all; this never seems to work out well for me but it is a sign I am getting closer. I can also find lots of things to do to distract from the pressure of this moment, and thus stopping the process – “yes, indeed it is the perfect time to paint the living room”.
Step #5: SLEEP ON IT. Yep that is what comes next, even if it is only a 30 minute nap, where one can totally relax the physical self, have the GI track calm, and allow the brain to sort, organize, file and compose. A computer can NOT accomplish this step. The brain needs time to work with all those new synaptic connections and make sense of them. 8 hours is best.
Step #6: USE IT. For most students, this step involves a term paper or final exam. As a counselor, this involved finding and teaching the “best practices solution for the best outcomes” for an individual. For the airplane interested person mentioned in Step #2, that turned out to be just the start point for a young woman architect who now designs living modules for space stations. One needs to try on the concept or idea and find out if it has purposeful or practical application for their living – is it useful?
Step #7: INTEGRATION. The idea is learned and now just naturally flows into other ideas, concepts and life events and conversations. It is the point where one is smoothly and efficiently driving a car, one does not have to think about every small idea or movement, right to the point of connection on the clutch. One can translate this knowledge to each new car they drive or process they encounter.
These steps must be practiced on a regular basis, and practicing is important. The healthiest cooks are not those who treat their families to the most recipes and desserts ( the 1955 criteria), it is the one who keeps learning new ideas about nutrition and that food which each of the people he/she cooks for needs to feel well and be productively healthy.
What new ideas are you learning about right now? Are you aware of going through each of these steps? How do you handle things that make you uncomfortable or push you to change? How do you handle a “know it all”?
It is estimated that in the USA only 1/3 of the high school graduates understand the process of learning and complete the process. 100% of the high school graduates say they are in that 1/3rd of the population. The scientific studies tell us something different and suggest to us that only 1 out of 4 people are competent drivers.
I dedicate this article to all the students who are writing papers, all the folks incorporating something new into their lives and workin’ at it. And here is my best tidbit about studying for those exams, YOU WILL DO BETTER IF YOU LOOK AT YOUR RESEARCH AND NOTES FOR 5 NIGHTS IN A ROW FOR 30 MINUTES THAN YOU WILL GAIN IN AN ALL NIGHT CRAM SESSION.
Looking forward to your fabulous comments.
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