Discover the Importance of Repetition
Learning to learn is a challenge that cannot be downplayed.
Retaining knowledge is a hard-fought-for task, it will require many hours of sweat, tears, and a lot of repetition.
I started out as a naïve, disillusioned student with an absence of love for learning. By my penultimate year at secondary school circumstances catered my change. After fluking an A in my year 10 mocks, I had an awakening: ‘What can be achieved if I apply myself?’. Thus, the next year I spent time cultivating myself, shaping my academic outlook and learning to love learning. Many articles along these lines will employ all breadths of rhetoric, but simply you must do it. There is no ‘cheat code’ or ‘easy revision’. You must develop a love for learning, whether that is a love for the arts or sciences- what do you want to do?
My learning methods seem radical, everything I do is repeated. A 15-minute lecture for university appears, ‘no worries that will take me 1 hour’. I hold on to every word’s indispensability, appreciate it, write it. Then I will never forget it. This is because I have trained myself to learn, to understand, to retain information. It has all stemmed from that last but one year in secondary school, the years spent writing around the subject at hand, acquiring a passion for the subject, then doing above and beyond in every aspect of it. A seemingly easy task will take me three times any else because no one else is doing this. It is a competition, not a brag to try and show off your own delusive-perceived intellect, but one with yourself. You need to truthfully view yourself as the best and support such vision with actual hard work.
Do it properly. Write until your hands grow tired, your eyes droop, your head is confused. Write until the political economy of Britain in the 17th century is creeping into your sleep and you can see Karl Polyani himself trespassing in your dreams. Ultimately work is never hard when you have a passion, it becomes a love.
Love What You Do
Love. I have brought this up a few times and such terminology is in need of further explanation. There is no fine dining of academic textbooks, instead, this notion of ‘love’ needs to be created. As mentioned if you are interested in Newton’s third law then read around it. Take it on your own back to read around it.
I am by no means suggesting you conduct an exhaustive survey backed up with empirical evidence that actually overrides your school learning, but develop a passion for it. I feel this concept of reading and reading around the subject does not really come into play until higher education, so do it before anyone else does.
The Art of Repetition
Repetition is an art. The roots of which need not be restricted as a literary device. Repeating, rewriting, rereading your work will really help you retain your newly discovered knowledge. If you love something, in particular, this repetition will appear as leisure. Being able to programme yourself to view a seemingly exhausting task as something fun is one of the key ways to truly learn something and never forget it. Even if the task at hand is something you show very little enthusiasm for, do not let this deter you! Adapt to it, find a nuanced area you enjoy, if this proves to be of no avail… bite the bullet. Get it done by focusing on the positive consequences that will show themselves when ‘X’ is completed.
We do not always have to live in the moment, by working in the moment and focusing ahead is merely another way to ensure your hours of repetition and literal rewriting of work does not result in a total breakdown.
It is also important to the mention that the tactility of the rewriting does not just show great resilience, but will actually improve your muscle memory. Doing this, consistently, for a substantial period of time you will see the underrated often unspoken benefits of muscle memory, finding that words quite literally will begin to roll off your pen. Certain phrases will be subconsciously memorised, and you will shock yourself when you discover that you are able to critique John Locke’s colonial attitude towards cultivation in the 17th century. Embrace this feeling, the feeling of knowledge, for as Bacon so perfectly pronounces: ‘Knowledge itself is power’.
The Repetition Formula
The formula is simple on paper: love your work, write your work, repeat. Whether you repeat your findings by rewriting them, rereading them every night before sleep, making voice memos, acting them out is entirely up to you and how it suits your own needs. In practice, the struggles will present themselves but do not let them obfuscate your work. Struggle on take a day completely off if needed. A lot like one who loves the gym. Plan your workouts, cut out bad habits, train until exhaustion and rest when your body cannot do anymore.
How I learn defies everything I have ever been taught in secondary school. Regular breaks are not on the table, I rewrite every line of a textbook and allow 10-minute videos to take up 1 hour of my time. It sounds not only like my methods are unnecessarily eccentric but futile. This is not the case. I do not defy advice to challenge the social order but do so in accordance with what suits me. I rewrite everything not to memorise the work without understanding, but actually the contrary. This method is definitely exhausting, but it is exhaustively effective. I am prepared to die by this method and will deploy it in every upcoming chapter of my life. Whether its GCSE’s, A-levels, Degrees, Research projects, Learning your lines for a play…. Such will work in all types of environments.
Being able to recite an undergraduate presentation on the merits of moral philosophy in verbatim definitely seems a daunting task. Yet with your extensive preparation, literal sweat and potential tears, your blister covered fingers, droopy eyes, possessed dreams of moral philosophers, you will not only have transcended a new realm but be able to talk with real, new-founded knowledge. Not everyone is a naturally born confident learner, not everyone will be able to put their hand up and volunteer their information to their surrounding peers, but I really do believe all of us have the tools at our disposable to turn such a harrowing task into an expressive pleasure. All you need is a pen, a book/article around your subject and many notepads of your favourite lined paper.