On the Mechanics of Learning
Thu, 23 Feb 2006 11:18:32 -0500
Since going back to school last fall I have been thinking about the process
of learning and retaining what has been learned. As I study for lecture
courses like Art History that require memorizing dates, artists, meanings
and the like I think about what I learned and retained the last time I was
in college nearly fifty years ago. I had thought I might be able to relate
the remembered things to something that might help me retain what I am now
learning, but it hasn't happened.
For reasons unknown, I still remember the Greek alphabet, learned as a joke
by me and my classmates- something I never needed to know or remember.
Likewise I discovered that my best memories of a specific class was HS
biology, another subject for which I have had no real use- and just barely
passed. Looking back at my college transcript I discovered that I took a
course in Western Civilization, of which I have no recollection whatsoever.
So why do we remember such oddball and unnecessary things and maybe not
recollect things that are far more important?
Which reminds me of the famous TN Senator's remark during the Watergate
hearings, "What did he know and when did he know it?" More relevant is
"What do I know now, why do I know it and how do I retain what I am now
All good questions. You might enjoy reading "The Seven Sins of
Memory" by Daniel Schacter. He's chairman of the psych
department at Harvard and a well-known memory researcher, but the
book is written for the educated layperson. He talks about many
of the reasons for forgetting (or not forgetting) as well as how
we misremember things incorrectly, or even things that never
FurPaw (been lurking)
Ahhhhh, I recognize you from elsewhere. Welcome!
Thanks, I'll keep that one in mind.
interesting puzzle... :) i think we retain our knowledge best by using
it... but we don't really know what we know until we use it and it works...
.. and the easier it is to categorize a subject, the easier it is to
remember it.. part of our mental indexing schema... :)