Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The "Tell Me Everything You Know" Technique

There is much in my mind to say about Great Men Autodidactism, but let us kick off with a strategy I've been thinking about a lot lately: The "Tell Me Everything You Know" technique.

I've learned of it from educator and education theorist Lisa VanDamme, who describes it as being utilized in her own school. Simply, it involves that, upon a given subject, you relay everything you know about it. Literally everything, regardless how annal is it.

The point is the develop memory recall and integration by combing the mind for more and more details, which would otherwise fade off in approximate form or be forgotten, not be integrated into one's knowledge, and so forth. Think of all the times we may have forgotten what we've eaten for breakfast. We've forgotten because we don't call that event to attention; it becomes an unmemorable occasion, and falls out of mind even though we may have spent a half-hour eating it.

But take a period of the day to recall such events as this, and suddenly you've mentally exercised yourself into having an infallible memory for the whole week's breakfasts, and more!

This method really excites me for both its practicality and potential time-savings. One significant factor in considering optimal autodidactism is the time dedicated to the methods: Remember, our aim is to find ways to learn best while living productive lives; not staying between shelves in libraries.

I'll have to do a ton of experimentation and thinking upon this method, however, for while it has great practical implications there's still many things to be tweaked out, such as the communication method used, the length of time allotted for it, and so forth.

For instance, one of the wrinkles to be ironed out is when to stop. If you were to, say, utilize this method in a written journal at the end of a college reading assignment, you may find that you go on and on and on and on . . . there's practically no limit to what kind of knowledge you can summon up.

And communication is important too. Internally verbalize it, or speak it out loud? Stick to writing? It's an important consideration, for I've found there can be odd glitches at time in switching between methods. For example, I've noticed sometimes that I can visualize in my head myself having great and witty conversations, but in actually utilizing my mouth in real-life I find I can't speak up to the caliber as I can in my head. There's a difference, and it may be best to find a balance between all three methods.

While i'm going to be making huge changes to this method in the coming weeks, for now, here's what I've got:

At the end of every day, I pull out a journal dedicated to this purpose and write out individual entries for to the day's worthwhile learning, memorable thoughts, worthy experiences, and so forth.

First, I comb my memory to chronologically go through the motions of the day to better enable recall, and put in squares a few words related to particular learning or thoughts. Afterward I either expand on them all or just star specific ones worth writing, letting the other ones go for time efficiency.

Then I put a hyphen to mark a new section, write out the subject (a book title, category such as "science," etc.), the time of day (for context establishing), and then write out as concisely as possible what I learned. Same for the following entries.

There are some changes I'm preparing to employ, however. For one, I may begin doing a spoken version in the morning and a written version at night to increase the degree of neurological and mental stimulation I get. Secondly, in the cover of the journal I'll jot down some words marking categories, such as math, science, the culinary arts, and so forth, that I could turn to and stare at to jog my memory, in case looking at something like the words "culinary arts" and "charcuterie" might help me remember some thinking I did about curing chorizo past noon while walking in front of a butcher counter.

Additionally, perhaps I could vary up the extent of the method. Before I set down a book for the day I could perform an exercise on the chapters read, and then review it again when it comes to performing the method on the entire day. Lots of experimentation is needed.

As of far, I need WAY more practice in this method, but the few nights I've done them have felt . . . interesting. It's a unique sensation to attempt to recall the major intellectual points of your entire day, especially when it comes to potentially important thoughts you've have and didn't document.

I think it's feasible since there is scientific proof that the mind and brain can be worked and strengthened like muscles. The more you attempt to recall and integrate memories and learning, the more the brain and mind grow and adapt to accommodate the purpose and make you better at it.

Such is one step towards better learning (and living).

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