Learning to Learn

To start a lecture by telling the audience of a premier B-school that they use only 3% of their mental capacities is making a presentation in front of a hostile audience for the remaining part of the lecture. But carrying it off with the learning highlighted below is a noteworthy act in itself. Which brings us to analysing the why behind the primary grouse of our teachers throughout our lives. Like The Who sang at Woodstock of Tommy Boy:
“He seems to be completely unreceptive.
The tests I gave him show no sense at all.
The tests I gave him show no sense at all.
His eyes react to light the dials detect it.
He hears but cannot answer to your call.”

Everyone hated homework when we were at school. Little did we know that this was done with a purpose in mind. That a person retains more of the learning if it is applied to a particular case. After the ‘learning to learn’, a topic which on the surface seems ‘global’ to the best of the lot, one appreciates why audio-visual and other stimuli like case studies, exercises etc. are being used in learning schools across the world. Typically the learning prism tells us that we can learn the most by teaching, that being the reason why professors are considered the forerunners and words of authority in their fields of study. The lowest level in the prism is that of seeing. Though we enjoy movies and have watched our favourites many times over, one finds it difficult, apart from certain dialogues, to remember entire movies verbatim. One reason this is attributed to is that we watch movies for fun but the primary reason is that the human mind cannot absorb and reproduce complicated data just by a mere glance at every scene. Of course if we were to be given time (months) we can memorise a movie, just like some schemes of Sholay we can enact on demand. This is the reason we forget a large chunk of the lectures we attend, even at our concentrated and attentive best, only a couple of hours after the lecture is over. Which is why it is advisable to jot down learning as when they happen. We often wonder how we can recall the discussion in our rooms the night before with friends but cannot do so for a passive lecture (in which the lecturer is reading and reciting from the slide. This is because we learn more by group discussion that by reading even with the help of audio-visual stimuli. To debate, discuss, and analyse a situation opens up multiple aspects of our brain, which collectively serve to leave deeper imprints in the memory patterns.

Even with respect to learning each individual has a unique style. Some learn more by listening (aural), some by seeing (visual), some by reading/writing and others by doing it hands on (kinaesthetic). And Tommy Boy replies: “See me, feel me, touch me… heal me.” These four are the Vark styles of learning. On a giving a small test on the website of the same, we noticed discernible differences in our group itself, though most leaned to learning more by visual and kinaesthetic styles, which are the predominant learning styles in our group. This is also why the case study method has been so effective and adopted with so much enthusiasm in business schools.

‘Bloom’s Taxonomy’ illustrates various stages in the process of learning. Starting from knowledge to comprehension to application to analysis to synthesis and finally to evaluation. Most of us are in the application or analysis stage but synthesis and evaluation is what industry demands of us. It is only by understanding our own patterns better and capitalising on them effectively that we can make the most of our sensory perceptions. Of course, choosing a subject of interest does little harm.

“Listening to you I get the music.
Gazing at you I get the heat
Following you I climb the mountain
I get excitement at your feet!”

Top 5 Academicians
Alok Vivekananda, John Nash, Tagore, Einstein, Peter Drucker
Animesh J.J Thompson, P. Dieter, C.V. Raman, Newton, Rutherford
Anshul Professors of IIM Lucknow
Gurpreet Aryabhatta, Newton, Ramanujan, Valmiki, Edison
Siddhartha John Nash, Hal Varian, Phaedrus, Ramakrishna, Kurt Vonnegut