Monday, August 27, 2012

The "Tell Me Everything You Know" Notebook?

Another boring post on studying practices you probably don't care about, but which I'll write anyway since it entertains me. Er, tough luck on your recreational reading.

But for fellow nerds who will read on, I think I may have figured out a potential solution to my "sporadic" learning problem. As mentioned previously, one of my conundrums in reinitiating a stronger learning lifestyle, including studying, is that, since I'm no longer in school anymore, I'll have to construct different and original methodologies to suit the kind of lifestyle I lead, as I no longer have full, unabated days to sit with a book and study it from cover to cover. Aside from the time that I do have to do traditional book study, I'll need methods for studying in the car (via talking), thinking while doing physical labor, memorization techniques while listening, and so on. In other words, in order to continue learning as much as I can I need methods to adopt to any situation, regardless of the materials I have available.

Passing over the other psychological obstacles I faced, the primary one that bothered me was feedback. How can I sustain motivation to do this work if I'm learning hodge-podge? In contrast a traditional study routine can be thoroughly documented and have evidence of progress, whereas doing sporadic things such as reading an article online or doing vocabulary exercises can be forgotten unless one works harder to memorize or call attention to it. I don't want to have a day which engages all these intensive methodologies only to become demotivated by it at night by having vague memory of what I've done.

I think I've come up with a solution. Lisa VanDamme of the VanDamme academy, I recall, once wrote of a particular learning technique called "Tell Me Everything You Know." (That isn't the original writing I learned of it from, so my memory of the origins may be inaccurate.) She was concerned with how some children were giving vague answers when asked what they learned in school today, such as "about the Pyramids," so she devised this method which moves the students to be exhaustive about what they've learned, such as to say exactly what about the pyramids. It seems to be an excellent review and memorization technique that also hones understanding.

So, to keep up motivation for a more unorganized learning style, what if I required myself to write down "everything I know" before I go to bed? I won't literally write everything I know, but rather all the important things I learned from the day and be as detailed as possible. It would include culinary techniques, mathematical methods, the reason behind a particular procedure, vocabulary exercises I did, or even just thoughts that I have, such as on epistemology, politics, or something new I tasted. I would have to have an arbitrary cut-off point in my writing unless I am to go on forever, but it would summon back to mind all the mentally important aspects of the day and give me a chance to strengthen my memory, flesh it out further, hone my understanding, and so on. It would be good training for more precise thinking, and also increase my attention during daily learning to make sure I have details for night writing.

I like this idea because it's relaxed and rigorous at the same time. Relaxed in that the writing is just a sort of brain dump that I need not reference ever again, and yet rigorous in that I need to be exhaustive, detailed, precise, and organized in my writing. Best of all, it's a very relaxed way to measure my intellectual progress since I'll be able to see how my mind is growing (or slacking) on a daily basis while at the same time not being a pain-in-the-butt measuring technique. It would be interesting, spontaneous, entertaining, and just enjoyable.

Furthermore, I also like it since its importance lies in the method, not in making it referenciable. More and more am I understanding that authentic learning lies in proper method and intense concentration, so I'm trying to get myself to fret less over making my writing referenciable or searchable, because if my style is going to be so varied then making my writing able to be referenced will be an enormous pain.

Starting tonight I will begin this practice before bed, and see how well it integrates into a nightly routine.    

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