Do they ever teach us how to learn?

A confused person studying.
Design: Abir Hossain

Picture this. You have your exams coming up. Your syllabus is printed and your books are on the table. You sit down to study and that's when it hits you. You're not exactly sure what it is that you're supposed to do.

When we are trying to learn a new topic, the first step is to read through the content. To try and understand the material in front of us and to process it. But what comes after that? 

After the initial step of reading through and understanding the source material comes the step of actually learning the material – applying the knowledge that we have learned as necessary. As children, the significance of how we learn is understated and in most cases, completely overlooked. We are urged to study not to learn but to simply achieve good grades at an early age. We are, however, never taught how to study. 

This revelation came to me as I was "studying" for my exams. 

I had been jotting down notes for a course of mine when it occurred to me that all I was doing was writing the same information that was in the book back in my notebook. I sat there for some time, debating whether or not there were any benefits to what I was doing. After some intense deliberation, I came to the conclusion that what I was doing only served as mental satisfaction as I could tell myself afterwards that I had spent time studying, but it did not really help me remember the information any better. Sure I could read the notes again before my exams, but would it be so much better than taking some more time to read through the book again? Not really. 

When we are younger, this isn't such a big problem. The syllabus isn't too big and the information isn't too complex. With enough concentration, it is possible to learn the information well. 

However, as we grow up, the material becomes more vast and the information gets more complex. Simply reading the content thoroughly does not suffice anymore. So why do we face this problem? 

As children, we are expected to know the most efficient way to study, even though this is a very complicated problem to solve. Moreover, it is an issue that varies from person to person. There is no universally correct way to study. What works for some may not work for others. More attention should be given by caretakers at early ages to help children figure out what works for them. I am eighteen years of age and I still don't know what the best way to study is for me. 

Every exam season, I try different methods of studying. Whether that be making my own notes for the subject, watching mind-numbing lectures on the topic or simply solving question papers. And most of my peers face the same problem. Figuring out the best way for us to study takes up a huge part of our lives. 

Trying to solve this problem at a younger age, instead of letting children feel isolated when they don't know how to study, can eliminate a huge portion of suffering later on in their lives. 

Juhayer Khan is probably watching YouTube compilations of Paul Pogba. Send help at [email protected]