Less to Study, More to Gain?

Welcome back to the grind, folks. The sort of student happiness brought about by this period of low scholastic demand is already beginning its decline in preparation for midterms, coming just around the corner. Zenhabits, a popular blog for holistic lifestyle, recently published a post discussing alternative study habits for the university student. Guest writer Scott H Young (http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/) addressed the effectiveness of his own study habits, some that would send any avowed Staufferite into academic shock. Young claims that his five simple study tactics have fared well for his A to A+ average in university, but the risky method has all sorts of keener alarm bells sounding off in my brain.

As I am a poster child for classical study methods— read, write, review, repeat— Young’s rapid-learn style could not be more opposite to my own. He uses cognitive psychology to back his theories of effective learning, structured by five suggestions for study time: “metaphors and analogy”; “visceralization”; “the 5-year old method”; “diagramming”; and “storytelling to remember numbers and facts”. The system is based entirely upon Young’s key principle of connection over memorization. That is, bringing ideas together to form a cohesive whole instead of memorizing different concepts independently of the other.

“Children are imaginative, creative and, in many ways, the epitome of this rapid learning strategy. Maybe it’s the current school system, or maybe it’s just a consequence of growing up, but most people eventually suppress this instinct.

The sad truth is that the formal style of learning, makes learning less enjoyable. Chemistry, mathematics, computer science or classic literature should spawn new ideas, connections in the mind, exciting possibilities. Not only the right answers for a standardized test.The irony is that maybe if that childlike, informal way of learning came back, even just in part, perhaps more people would succeed on those very tests. Or at least enjoyed the process of learning.” – Scott H Young in How I was Able to Ace Exams Without Studying.

Have you tried a method similar to Young’s and was it effective? Comment below with thoughts on these study tactics or other alternative suggestions.

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