To lock in and remember what we learn, we need to use it.
Some people learn by doing. From what I can tell, this is largely true for me.
For some reason, things seem vague without an application. The information will come into my realm of attention. But there is no mental hook. There is no reason to retain it. And it slips away.
If, however, there is a purpose that drives my research and growth, mental hooks are created in the context of the learning. I have a reason to find the information because I need to use it right away. I can solve a problem or form a new creation because of the learning. I seem to lock in this kind of learning much better.
Pay the Price
Do you ever ask someone for help, they simply give you the answer, and the next time you run into the same problem, you feel like you need to ask for the exact same help again? It’s like asking someone’s name, hearing it, but then not being able to remember it 10 seconds later.
There seems to be something about the struggle that locks in our learning. We gain a memory, sometimes as mental scar tissue, because of the time we spend with it.
The price we pay might be time or effort or attention. Perhaps after that investment, we value the learning more and subconciously keep it around longer.
Invent an Application
In technology, the pace of change is amazing. Things seem to move fast and get ever faster. In this environment, there is information swirling because learning must always be happening.
But sometimes there aren’t an equal number of places these learnings are readily applied.
That’s why I’m enthusiastic about inventing applications for newfound or desired knowledge. A skill to be learned is always in need of a project. A project, with real or invented application, is a place to pay the price in toiling with new concepts. The immediate, kinetic use of these concepts will help lock in the learning.
Are you a kinetic learner? How do you try to make sure you retain what you learn?