We are all natural born learners – as any small child can demonstrate on a daily basis. However, as we become older and enter into the formal education system a gap often opens up between what we learn and what we are capable of learning. Is that inevitable? I believe it’s not.
Judge for yourself
When a pupil studies on an examination course the teacher often selects what material to cover from the published syllabus. That may be less than 100% of the syllabus.
Few pupils attempt to learn everything that the teacher covers and often revise even less for the examination which in any case is selective about what to test the pupil on.
In the examination room the pupil may have some choice in which questions to answer and to pass the examination may only have to obtain less than 50% of the available marks. That was 50% of much less than the 100% we started with!
Within days of the examination the pupil has already forgotten much of what he or she knew on the day of the examination. Some say 80% is forgotten within a month.
So, is it so strange that when it has been examined more scientifically the conclusion has often been drawn that conventional learning is around 10% efficient. Yes, for every 100 things the pupil might have learned he or she only ended up learning 10!
Yet, in some situations, such as watching a show on TV about a topic of interest to us, we sometime find afterwards that we can recall in detail what we have seen. The learning was effortless and highly efficient.
I’m not suggesting that planned learning, as take place in lessons, lectures or training courses, isn’t worth doing. I’m suggesting that the process is often just not working anything like as well as it might. When I say that I’m not suggesting that those involved in delivering teaching or training are doing a bad job. There are some duffers of course but that’s true in all walks of life. Most of the trouble seems to stem from a lack of awareness of better methods or, more often, political dogma from various points along the political spectrum. My initial aim here is to provided practical examples of useful ideas. If that raises awareness even in a very small way so much the better.
In Forget Learning I explore how we can contrive to make learning relatively effortless, and enjoyable yet highly efficient. Forget conventional learning – do something better.