Study Skills 4

The first three lessons in this series were devoted to Recognising things, by paying attention. Before moving on, I reiterate that your ability to pay attention is the most powerful tool you bring to your study and learning career.

Yet there is more that can be built upon that foundation and so I come now to the second key study skill, which is the good old faithful, “Repetition”.

Say it Again, Sam

There are various statistics touted around at times about how little we take in from seeing, hearing, reading and so on. While the figures vary the fact is the same. We are not good at absorbing things. So repetition is important right from the start.

Haven’t you noticed that something suddenly became significant to you the third of fourth time you read it? Or you suddenly noticed something in a text you had read and re-read many times.

That’s why going over your notes, re-reading a text, reviewing the subject, having a discussion with a tutorial group, and so on, prove to be so important in our learning and study program.

Big Blob

My emphasis on Repetition, however, goes beyond the need to make sure we have Recognition. While hearing it all one more time will help people catch on to something, I am interested in the repetition process as a means of creating a Big Blob.

Look at it this way. Your brain is being bombarded with gazillions of bits of information all the time. If you are studying then you are pumping information and facts into your brain as fast as you can. So, all the bits of information are competing with each other for significance in your memory banks.

If a piece of information is important, then you need to give it higher significance in your huge bucket of data. You want that tiny blip of information to become a Big Blip!

When you repeat something, over and over again, you build upon that tiny blip and expand it into a large enough piece of information to be readily accessed. See it like a tiny drop of blue paint on the ground. If you keep dripping extra tiny drips on top of the first one, you eventually get a big blue blob. What was initially un-noticeable has become very obvious.

That’s what you want to happen inside your brain.

Learned by Rote

When I was a child (OK it was aeons ago!) we learned our multiplication tables and other facts by rote. We chanted them, song-like, over and over again. “Two threes are six! Two fours are eight! Two fives are ten!” And so on it went.

The teacher wrote down the side of the blackboard a list of key facts, such as the speed of light, speed of sound, number of ounces in a pound and number of yards in a mile. Multiple times each day she asked us to stop what we were doing and to read the facts in unison.

This is what is called “Rote Learning”. It fell into disrepute some years later, even though it had been a proven method for a long time. Discovery learning became the buzz for a few decades, and other experimental methods. Academic standards dropped away, reading levels fell, spelling skills crumbled and people needed calculators to do simple maths. But that’s another story.

What I want you to realise is that Repetition Works! When you drill yourself with information, repeating it multiple times, in various settings, at various times of the day, you build up the mental signal of that information, making it a more permanent and significant element in your memory and understanding.

Same Girl, New Dress

While raw rote is a proven and powerful way to get the information in, there is also much to be said for dressing up the information in a new way.

Rather than hammering in the information in its one shape and size, you can repeat it into the memory in a new packaging. It’s the same information, but by modifying it in some way it finds a larger place in the memory banks.

As the simplest of examples, “two three’s is the same as three two’s”. At a more meaningful level, we can help our memory of the name of Julius Caesar’s killer, Brutus, by linking it to Caesar’s question, “Et tu Brute?” (Even you Brutus?)

Adding detail to a fact builds the size of the information in your memory banks. For example: Captain Cook discovered Australia. We can expand that fact with his first name and other information. He is Captain James Cook, who sailed in a ship named the Endeavour. He was killed in Hawaii.

And you can even add some nonsense to help if you like, such as the silly school-yard song some Aussie children would sing. “Captain Cook chased a chook all around Australia. He jumped a fence and tore his pants and landed in Tasmania.” I think I hear you say, “That’s not much help to me”, and you may be right.

Distilling

While the repetition I just suggested involved repeating the information by expanding it, another way to repeat something is by distilling it. In this process you summarise and reduce the information to a very potent capsule, rather than a barrow load of verbiage.

The Walk Through the Bible program links a key word with each book of the Bible and then links the key words together in a set of physical movements. Thus the list of Bible books and their content is summarised in short routine. This is an example of distilling a great deal of information into a much smaller capsule.

Mnemonics and acronyms also achieve the same result. I learned “Harry ClAgNaK” to remember elements with a valency of 1. ‘Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit’ gave me the names of notes on the treble clef lines. The acronym HOMES is a mnemonic aid to remember the names of the North American Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. And the planets in order from the Sun are remembered by: “My Very Elderly Mother Just Sat Under the North Pole”.

I distil the essential elements of faith, from Hebrews 11:6, down to two words, “Can” and “Will”. If you believe God Can do it, and that He Will do it for you, you have released your faith into action.

Interlinking

Connecting one piece of information with others also repeats the information, in a new context. This is similar to what happens when we expand the initial piece of information, but actually involves tying one piece of information to another significant piece.

The key points made by Jesus in the famous Sermon on the Mount, could be linked to the relevant laws which Moses received in Mount Sinai. The Mosaic Law was given new light by the Law of Christ, and both were presented on a mountain. Linking those two separate and significant events allows each one to support the other in our memory and understanding.

Some of the memory tricks that are promoted include linking important facts or things to remember to some pre-determined set of references. For example, the old “One, Two, Buckle my Shoe” poem leads to a list of items which points can be linked to in numeric order: Bun, Shoe, Tree, Door, Hive, Sticks, Heaven, Gate, Pine, Hen.

Again and Again and Again

I don’t mean to prompt you to be too clever. The Study Skill key is Repetition, plain and simple. Good old “Rote” is as good as you need to get, to drill yourself and pump that info in, over and over again, until it sticks and won’t fall out.

Start with Recognition, then get working on Repetition. Once you have those two working well, you are a strong student and a good learner.

To see the other posts in this series click the links below….

http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/study-skills-1

http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/study-skills-2

http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/study-skills-3

Logophile Lunacy Four

It’s getting weirder each time. Trying to weave a string of obscure terms together can be fun, or it can just be bizarre. However, I’ve tried to be true to the language and present you with something that will expand your own vocab and give you a better grip on good old English.

For those looking in for the first time, this is the fourth in a string of Lunacy posts, where word lovers (that’s the Logophiles) decipher the less familiar terms then create their own version of the story I have concocted, using words we may hardly ever see.

The objective of this time-wasting exercise is to see how many people can get distracted by something as trivial as this and still stay employed! Actually I am applying one of my favourite educational principles – that of Repetition and Recall – the Extra 2 R’s I love the most.

As you play with words and rework them you are much more likely to insert them into your consciousness and maybe even add them to your working vocabulary.

What you are about to see is the full passage, which I have been introducing in pieces up until now. Have a go at it and see if you can mangle all or part of it, to the benefit of us all.

“It is germane to note that this robustious habitué is under the aegis of a denizen of this place, an avuncular eremite, who will expiate his fatuous arrogation of title.

Though others inveigh the grandiloquent concatenation by which he avoids each contretemps, he manages to exculpate himself from mordant limn and continue in his bon ton.

He lacks nescience of the imbroglio his arrant foolery has generated. He continues with the hubris of a mountebank in the depredation of each complaisant and venal quisling who seeks his apotheosis.

His cap-a-pie deceit and sedulous chicanery have earned him the sobriquet “bandit”, yet he still draws plaudits from each aficionado who pleads clemency for his behaviour.”

Logophile Lunacy Three

Have I worn you out yet? There’s more! Or should I say, “Here’s More!”

The objective of the game is to decode the verbage and recast it into a selection of your own making – so we end up staring at some vocab we’ve hardly seen before. And it’s all about my favourite 2 R’s – which were…… now what were they again? I wonder if you can recall, Hmmmmm ???

Get to it …..

“It is germane to note that this robustious habitué is under the aegis of a denizen of this place, an avuncular eremite, who will expiate his fatuous arrogation of title.

Though others inveigh the grandiloquent concatenation by which he avoids each contretemps, he manages to exculpate himself from mordant limn and continue in his bon ton.

He lacks nescience of the imbroglio his arrant foolery has generated. He continues with the hubris of a mountebank in the depredation of each complaisant and venal quisling who seeks his apotheosis.”

Logophile Lunacy Two

As if ‘one’ wasn’t enough, here we go again with another dose of Logophile Lunacy.

The object of the game is for you to crack the sentence, decipher the basic message and re-compose some syllables that say the same thing, but expose us to vocab we may not regularly use.

So, have a go. You’ll have to check your own or on-line dictionary for the meanings and they you can thesaurus up a new way to say the same thing.

I’m building this passage up as we go along – so you will get the first sentence repeated from an earlier past. That’s deliberate – it’s called “Repetition and Recall”, my favourite 2 R’s of Learning.

Oh, and you can actually post your replies on the Forum, under Mind Zone.

“It is germane to note that this robustious habitué is under the aegis of a denizen of this place, an avuncular eremite, who will expiate his fatuous arrogation of title.

Though others inveigh the grandiloquent concatenation by which he avoids each contretemps, he manages to exculpate himself from mordant limn and continue in his bon ton.”

Learning – extra 3 R’s

You’ve heard of the 3 R’s – Reading, Writing and ‘Rithmetic. That’s the junior school learning that we all have to undergo. But once we’ve moved on from the first 3 R’s there’s an extra 3 R’s that enhance our learning. Many of the posts on this blog site have the extra 3 R’s in mind.

The extra 3 R’s are: Reasoning, Repetition and Recall.

Reasoning is the ability to think clearly and to see through the bluff and guff that is thrown at us all the time. If a person cannot reason well they will fall prey to the mind games and delusions of others. This site helps you reason things out by presenting clearly stated Biblical and other insights in a simple and reasoned manner. You don’t have to agree or disagree with what is posted, but the posts will stimulate your thinking and help you foster good reasoning processes.

As an instinctive teacher, Repetition and Recall are favourites of mine. Long ago I discovered that the way to master things and to lock them away for long-term access involves hearing things multiple times (that’s where Repetition comes in) and being prompted to bring something back from the back our your mind (that’s the Recall component). Good exam preparation, for example, should involve repetition, but also test questions that force the student to recall what they have learned. Spot quizzes, revision questions and similar tests are great for recall.

As I prepare various posts I am naturally inclined to remind you of things that I may have not spoken about for a while. That process prompts both repetition and recall. With the logophile, vocabulary subject, I’d like to get you doing some daily repetition and recall. The same goes for the church history posts.

That’s why I recommend that you subscribe to the daily email service built into this blog. Click the link on the lower left of the homepage and subscribe to receieve an email each time a new posting is made. Those frequent repetitions and reminders will be part of your on-going learning experience.

You’re never too old to keep learning and growing – so activate those extra 3 R’s by subscribing to the email feed of this blog.